ADOT study team preps for interchange facelift

AHRON SHERMAN/Miner<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->The interchange at Interstate 40 and U.S. 93, which often stacks up with traffic, could possibly get a facelift and a companion interchange in the coming years.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->

AHRON SHERMAN/Miner<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->The interchange at Interstate 40 and U.S. 93, which often stacks up with traffic, could possibly get a facelift and a companion interchange in the coming years.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->

KINGMAN - The Arizona Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration and Bureau of Land Management study team in charge of finding a solution to the traffic congestion at the Beale Street/Interstate 40 junction has made it a priority to keep the existing interchange in service at its current location in order to retain local access.

The 10-member ADOT study team held a public scoping meeting at Mohave Community College Thursday to discuss the process of the team's upcoming in-depth study of potential traffic corridors. The scoping meeting comes on the heels of the feasibility study conducted by ADOT, which designated two options as making the most sense and was completed in 2009.

Of the two potential corridors the feasibility study team thought made the most sense, one consisted of a viaduct - an interchange stacked above the existing one - and the other consisted of an interchange slightly north of the Beale Street junction.

Engineering consultant/project manager Darrell Truitt said the feasibility study was rather broad whereas the next steps in the process will be much more specific. Though Truitt believed the feasibility study did a good job of flushing out the two most pragmatic options, ADOT has asked that the study team consider not only the eight original options but also two others to the north and south of Beale Street.

Truitt wanted to make it clear that the process is in the very early stages, and that at each step of the way the public will have opportunities to voice concern, ask questions and offer suggestions.

The final design concept report is scheduled for spring 2013.

The purpose of the study is to evaluate a high-speed connection between I-40 and U.S. 93, relieve congestion, enhance regional traffic flow, promote local access and maintain a safe interchange.

Well-flowing traffic between U.S 93 and I-40 is very important, Truitt said. On the CANAMEX corridor in Arizona three bottlenecks were identified several years ago. One was at the Hoover Dam, another was in Wickenburg and the last was the Beale Street junction, he said. Of those, Kingman's bottleneck is the only one that hasn't been dealt with.

Throughout the study, environmental and engineering constraints and opportunities will be addressed. Some of those include but are not limited to, future development, socioeconomic impacts and mitigation, and Cerbat Hills recreation area and Beale Springs.

Also, there is a possibility interim improvements are made to the Beale Street junction prior to building a new interchange.

At the meeting the team fielded several questions - on comment cards - from the audience.

One person asked for a plat map of affected property in the area of the two interchange options the feasibility study came up with, as it was figured that both options would go over or through Fort Beale Drive.

Truitt said the team is still a long way out from figuring where exactly potential corridors would run, and added to not expect anything like that until summer/fall 2012.

Another person inquired about eminent domain, and asked if any properties would be seized.

Truitt answered that throughout the normal process, properties are identified for acquisition and an appraisal process starts. Once appraisal is complete, negotiations start, he said. However, if a person refuses to sell, there is a possibility the property could be acquired through eminent domain.

In the end, Truitt and other members of the team assured the audience that the study would not be done in a vacuum. The goal is keep the existing interchange while also creating an access controlled, free flowing interchange either alongside or above the current one in order to relieve congestion at the Beale Street/I-40 junction.

No cost estimate has been done for the project, as the team is still early in the process, Truitt said.

The next meeting will be called the alternatives selection report and will take place this winter.

"We'll be looking at all options then narrowing it down," Truitt said.