ADOT is currently in the process of improving SR 85 from a two-lane highway to a four-lane divided highway. Due to the significant challenges of obtaining timely funding to construct the recommended, ultimate access-controlled highway, a phased implementation plan was developed that would achieve the goal of providing a four-lane divided highway in the short-term, while still supporting the long range transportation goals of the recommended ultimate access-controlled roadway.
ADOT has identified 12 interim construction priorities to improve the SR 85 corridor by constructing two additional lanes to provide a four-lane divided roadway between Interstate 8 in Gila Bend and Interstate 10 in Buckeye, and upgrading the roadway to interstate standards. These construction priorities are the first steps toward the ultimate goal of converting SR 85 to a fully access-controlled highway.
ADOT is currently in the process of making the improvements identified in the phased implementation plan to widen the roadway to four lanes, with most of the improvements to date occurring between the Gila River and Gila Bend.
Some projects have recently been completed to improve the SR 85 corridor and other improvement projects are under way or planned.
Completed SR 85 Improvements
Widening, Maricopa County Route 85 to Southern Avenue
Construction of two new lanes along this segment of SR 85 to create a four-lane roadway was completed in May 2008.
Widening, Milepost 141.71 to the Gila River
From milepost 141.71 to the Gila River (at milepost 147), two new lanes have been constructed east of the existing highway to provide the new northbound SR 85.
Widening, Mileposts 123-130.5; mileposts 137-141.71
Two new lanes were constructed west of the existing highway between mileposts 123-130.5 and from mileposts 137-141.71 to provide the southbound SR 85 lanes. The final work on the northern most segment of SR 85 was completed in December 2008.
Lewis Prison Road Interchange
Construction of a new traffic interchange on SR 85 at Lewis Prison Road has been completed.
Widening, Mileposts 130.5-137
Two new lanes are being constructed west of the existing highway to provide the southbound SR 85 lanes from mileposts 130.5-137 has been completed.
SR 85 Improvements Under Construction
Southern Avenue to I-10
Construction to widen SR 85 to create a new four-lane divided roadway between Southern Avenue and I-10 began October 22, 2009 and is scheduled to be completed in late 2010. This project is being funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).
Planned SR 85 Improvements
Hazen to Broadway roads
Funding to widen SR 85 to a four-lane divided roadway and construct a new interchange with MC 85 has been deferred to Phase V (2026-2031) of the Regional Transportation Plan.
MC 85 Interchange
A new interchange with MC 85 is proposed to be constructed with future widening improvements between Hazen and Broadway roads. This project has also been deferred to Phase V (2026-2031) of the Regional Transportation Plan.
SR 85 Interchange at Interstate 8
Funding to provide a new interchange to improve the connection between SR 85 and I-8 has been deferred to Phase V (2026-2031) of the Regional Transportation Plan. A study to evaluate and recommend the locally preferred interchange alternative (SR 85 at Gila Bend Environmental Assessment) has been completed. The study also evaluated expanding SR 85 to a four-lane divided roadway from mileposts 122.99 to 120.54.
These improvements are included in the 20-year Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), the blueprint for all transportation planning in Maricopa County. Funding for transportation improvements included in the RTP is provided by a regional half-cent sales tax, which was approved by voters in 2004 and became effective in January 2006.
The RTP was originally divided into four phases, based on forecasts of when the funding was anticipated to be available for those improvements. Responding to federal transportation planning requirements, the RTP is being extended through 2031 by the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) to maintain a 20-year planning horizon. As a result, a fifth phase has been added to the RTP, covering the period from 2026 through 2031. Consistent with federal planning guidelines, funding for transportation projects is based on revenue sources that are considered to be reasonably available for the planning period. According to MAG, this assumes that for planning purposes funding sources with a long history of providing funding in the past will continue into the future.
In fall 2009, due to declining sales tax revenues and decreases in other transportation revenue sources to fund improvements, MAG recommended that some future projects be deferred to Phase V of the plan. As part of the planning process, project costs and funding levels are continuously monitored, and the RTP is periodically updated to take advantage of cost savings or changes in the transportation revenue outlook. According to MAG planners, this can result in the acceleration of projects that were formerly deferred. For more information about RTP projects deferred to Phase V in the MAG tentative scenario, please visit the MAG Web site.