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Hidden west of Hwy. 179 by trees, bushes and rolling hills, construction crews have been working on the future southbound lane unnoticed by motorists. The section that crews are concentrating most on at this time will eventually take drivers from Sedona to the Village of Oak Creek as part of a bifurcated roadway.
By Trista Steers
Larson Newspapers
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Hidden west of Hwy. 179 by trees, bushes and rolling hills, construction crews have been working on the future southbound lane unnoticed by motorists.

The section that crews are concentrating most on at this time will eventually take drivers from Sedona to the Village of Oak Creek as part of a bifurcated roadway.

The current road will be the northbound lane.

A dirt road has been constructed where the future southbound lane will be built. The southbound lane will include two bridges.

The bridges will run across drainage ravines that are inappropriate for roadways to enter.

These types of landscapes are dealt with one of two ways.

The ravine is either filled with dirt and a drainage culvert built or a bridge is constructed.

“The bridges are there to help minimize the disturbance, the footprint of the road,” ADOT Project Manager for the Hwy. 179 Improvement Project Carl Burkhalter said.

Burkhalter said filling in the gaps was not an option.

“You don’t want to do that in a scenic area like the red rocks,” Burkhalter said.

Hwy. 179 currently does not cross any bridges.

“The existing [road] is more up and down,” Burkhalter said.

Today, according to Burkhalter, a road wouldn’t be constructed that way.

One bridge will be located where the HT Trail crosses the highway.

The foundation of the HT Bridge is now being built.

The second bridge will be located just south of the HT Bridge closer to Bell Rock.

Burkhalter said construction of the southbound lane will be finished in summer 2007.

At that time, the current Hwy. 179 will be closed.

The southbound lane will be temporarily striped to serve both traffic flows while crews work on the existing Hwy. 179.

“In general, it will be pretty much the same,” Burkhalter said.

Curbs and gutters will run along the shoulder, reducing the width from 24 to 26 feet down to 20 feet, and a passing lane will be constructed from VOC to Bell Rock.

A wider shoulder to accommodate bicyclists and allow motorists to pull to the side for emergency vehicles will also be added.

Work will be done on the section known as “The Roller Coaster” to make the valley higher and the hills lower, Burkhalter said.

When both sides are finished, northbound traffic will run strictly on the old highway and southbound will run on the new highway.

Until then, Burkhalter said, there will be minor disruptions to traffic as machinery crosses the highway to reach access roads.


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