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Planned construction on Interstate 17 up Copper Canyon will provide a climbing lane on the well-used route out of the Verde Valley toward the south.

The project is set for “early next year,” according to Tricia Lewis, senior community relations officer with the Arizona Department of Transportation Prescott District.

Southbound traffic on Interstate 17 steams uphill through Copper Canyon on Friday, Nov. 16. The Arizona Department of Transportation plans to begin construction on a climbing lane for slow-moving traffic through the canyon in early 2013.The ADOT Governing Board signed off on and awarded the $11.9 million project in October.

The project is being funded through the Federal Highway Administration.

Construction is set for early 2013 and should be complete by the end of that calendar year, according to ADOT.

“There’s no specific date set yet,” Lewis said. “We’ll know more after we meet with the contractors.”

Lewis said the project was still likely a couple of months out.

As a major route for commerce between Northern Arizona and the Phoenix area, large trucks have to navigate the steep climb from the Verde Valley to the top of the canyon, which sits at an elevation of around 4,700 feet.

Anyone who has driven that section of I-17 has seen 18-wheelers slowly climbing up the highway, often forcing other traffic to slow down when no way to pass is immediately available.

For the full story, see the Friday, Nov. 23, edition of the Sedona Red Rock News.


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  • concerned citizen

    When on this portion of the road at sunset, it can be very dangerous. I was so blinded by the sun that I couldn't see an 18 wheel rig with emergency lights flashing.

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