TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Thanks to efforts from U.S. Representative Ann Kirkpatrick, I-10 between Phoenix and Tucson will be getting some much needed improvements. The busy corridor is estimated to carry up to 120,000 vehicles per day.
According to a recent release from Kirkpatrick's office, $54 million has been secured in a highway grant for the I-10 Phoenix to Tucson Corridor Improvements Project, via the U.S. Department of Transportation's competitive FASTLANE program.
"This is a big win for communities across Pinal County and for our southern Arizona economy," Kirkpatrick said in the release. "I fought for this funding because I've heard from local leaders, workers and families who rely on this busy interstate in their daily lives – I know they welcome these road improvements and safety measures."
These funds mean that the Arizona Department of Transportation will have funds to make improvements like widening and relieving bottleneck areas where there are only two lanes, installing dust storm early warning technology, as well as addressing problems like narrow lanes and inadequate acceleration and deceleration lanes. According to ADOT these improvements are expected to help reduce the number of fatal and serious crashes in the area.
Ken Waters with the National Weather Service said there are about 10 dust detectors installed in problem areas along I10. They cost about $100 each. The information gathered by these detectors can be used to use dust storm warnings.
"We want to avoid those kinds of situations where we have these very large scale accidents. we've had a number of them over the last several years and it's a serious problem. Often we end up with fatalities out of these," Waters said.
Waters said money from this grant will go towards buying more technology like this. He said he hopes to get a whole network set up across central and southern Arizona.
Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild congratulated ADOT for being awarded the grant and thanked the Arizona congressional delegation for supporting the effort to secure this funding.
He said this project, which is expected to cost $157.5 million, will benefit the entire state.
"Completing expansion of I-10 between Tucson and Phoenix, which now alternates between two and three lanes in each direction, will result in a safer, more efficient highway for people and freight, and that's very good news for Tucson, Phoenix and the state as a whole," Rothschild said.
Drivers also said they welcome these new plans for improvements.
"I travel it once a week minimum. So I'm to and from and it's a lot of congested areas. If they can widen roads and fix things it would be amazing," said Jessica Stricker.
Miguel Lara said adding more lanes in some parts of I10 will make him feel safer driving to and from Phoenix.
"The cars are coming too quickly and too small of a space to move. It's just too dangerous the way it is now," Lara said.
To read Kirkpatrick's full letter to the U.S. Transportation about the grant click here. Ann Kirkpatrick is Arizona's only member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.