CHANDLER, Ariz. — Gov. Doug Ducey said Tuesday he will sign legislation that allocates funding to widen a stretch of Interstate 10 running through Pinal County that has long been known as a troubling spot for slow-moving traffic and deadly crashes.
The long-awaited infrastructure project has been sought after by many residents in southern Arizona who fear driving along this section of I-10 that's been the scene of several fatal collisions.
Two motorists died in October in a fiery crash after a truck crossed the I-10 median near milepost 188. A woman and two young children were killed in 2018 on the freeway near Queen Creek Road.
Aside from the tragedies, I-10 is the source of many complaints from the commuters who depend on the freeway to get to the Valley each day.
Senate Bill 1239 attempts to open up the two-lane pathway by appropriating $400 million from the state's general fund to widen I-10 between Chandler and Casa Grande.
This 26-mile section of the freeway will expand from two lanes to three.
Republican Sen. T.J. Shope, whose district is in Pinal County, introduced the bill and said he's spent many years lobbying to improve the freeway.
Shope said earlier this year the freeway has become his main priority and he feels like a "broken record" every time he mentions the backed-up traffic on I-10.
The bill passed through both chambers of the Legislature and Ducey held a signing ceremony for the bill on Wednesday.
“In the State of the State, we promised that we would invest more dollars to get the I-10 completion leap-frogged to the front of the priority list. Today, we’re delivering on that promise,” Ducey said during Wednesday's signing ceremony.
After the $400 million is appropriated, officials from the Arizona Department of Transportation have told legislators they would still need time to complete design work and reports before the project is "shovel-ready."
Phase one of construction is expected to start in 2023 and could be completed by 2026. The total cost of the project could be up to $1 billion.
Ducey's office said the initial $400-million investment will help Arizona better compete for additional federal funds that could help complete the project.
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