Point A to Point B

While all Leonardo Da Vinci needed was a paintbrush to craft the Mona Lisa, the Arizona Department of Transportation must utilize a fine-point pen to build a new traffic interchange for Interstate 40 and U.S. Highway 93.

More than 50 people attended the informational meeting on Monday about a long-range planning study of potential improvements to the I-40/U.S. 93 traffic interchange in west Kingman.

"Our objective is to provide a way from Point A to Point B in the quickest, safest way possible," said Mike Kondelis, district engineer with the Kingman District for ADOT.

ADOT is still considering initial public questions and comments until April 30. For more information on the project, go to www.azdot.gov/highways/districts/kingman/projects.asp.

Ahmad Omais, project manager at Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc., is working with ADOT on the interchange. While fielding questions and comments, Omais said he wouldn't be able to address specific questions because the project is in its initial phase.

Described as going from paintbrush to fine-tip point pen strokes, construction on the plan could be more than 10 years away, Omais said.

"Once identified, it (the interchange) would have to compete for priority on the five-year plan for funding," Omais added. The study will eventually locate alternatives for providing a free-flow connection beyond the current traffic interchange at Beale Street.

Omais presented eight options in the area on U.S. 93 from State Route 68 to I-40, and I-40 from Stockton Hill Road to McConnico. Based off of projections, traffic between I-40 and U.S. 93 will increase three-fold in 30 years, Omais said.

The study group projects to have identified an initial corridor by fall, when they will again seek public input before starting a detailed study in the winter.

With the potential of a $100 million price tag, Omais said in the end they could choose not to do anything.

While no action is a possibility, Kondelis made it seem the project is probable.

"We have to do something, especially if the traffic increases the way it's projected," Kondelis said. "What's there today is not working."

The west Kingman intersection was one of three areas targeted in Arizona that are part of the CANAMEX corridor established by the North American Free Trade Agreement. The Hoover Dam overpass and a future project at Wickenburg were also targeted.

The study was initiated by ADOT, the Federal Highway Administration and the Bureau of Land Management. The project will be evaluated for potential environmental, social and economic impacts.

The detailed study will also examine how the interchange will affect businesses off of the Beale Street intersection.

Omais reassured the audience the Beale Street intersection would be maintained for access to businesses in the area from I-40, no matter what option is chosen.

"That's always going to be a prime concern," Kondelis said referring to how the change would affect businesses.