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Although traffic slows to a crawl at Back o? Beyond Road?s intersection with Hwy. 179 — where the cement barriers are in place — Southwest Asphalt Paving construction workers contracted for the project are managing to keep things moving — for the most part.

By Chelsea DeWeese
Larson Newspapers
________________

State police officers stationed in the Village of Oak Creek.

Orange signs piled next to the highway.

Cement barriers redirecting traffic.

The Hwy. 179 Improvement Project is underway, and local commuters are feeling the pinch.

Although traffic slows to a crawl at Back o? Beyond Road?s intersection with Hwy. 179 — where the cement barriers are in place — Southwest Asphalt Paving construction workers contracted for the project are managing to keep things moving — for the most part.

Aside from infrequent and short-lived stops, traffic is flowing and access to VOC businesses remain open, something Arizona Department of Transportation project managers promised from the start.

This week — Monday, Oct. 23, to Friday, Oct. 27 — workers will lay temporary pavement on the southbound side of Hwy. 179 as it passes through the VOC. Motorists will then be shifted to that side of the roadway as work begins on the northbound half.

This work is expected to continue into spring 2007.

Also, workers will be staking the HT and Templeton trails on Coconino National Forest north of the VOC.

The stakes mark the earth that will be disturbed when workers build a bridge for the new northbound part of the highway.

According to a Hwy. 179 Improvement Project update, there will be no trail closures, but officials are warning hikers and bikers to be cautious.

For the most part, the improved Hwy. 179 from just south of the VOC north toward its intersection with Back o? Beyond Road will be constructed one half at a time — first the northbound half, then the southbound half.

Once finished, this section of road will have improved storm drainage, bike lanes and widened traffic lanes.

Also, roundabout intersections will be installed in five locations: at Ridge Trail Drive, Jacks Canyon Road, Cortez Road, Bell Rock Road and Back o? Beyond Road.

The highway will be bifurcated, or split, into two separate north- and southbound lanes, as it passes through Coconino National Forest north of the VOC and south of Back o? Beyond Road.

The southbound roadway, currently in the initial phases of construction, will include two bridges that go over washes and provide travel corridors for wildlife.

In all, this first phase of the Hwy. 179 Improvement Project should be complete within 18 months, said Carl Burkhalter, ADOT?s project manager for the Hwy. 179 Improvement Project.

Project 2, which includes Hwy. 179 north of Back o? Beyond road to the ?Y? intersection with Hwy. 89A, has been approved for funding but has yet to go out for bid for construction.

For more information, visit www.scenic179.com.


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