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Stonehenge-like structures show aesthetics for South Mountain Freeway

ADOT testing colors, patterns for bridges and walls in west Phoenix
March 06, 2017

PHOENIX – Looking a bit like a colorful Stonehenge or large-scale modern art, a series of concrete columns and walls at a west Phoenix intersection may be a little puzzling to passers-by. They’re actually mock-ups the Arizona Department of Transportation is using to test aesthetics, including paint colors, for the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway.

Set along the southwest corner ofRockColumns 59th Avenue and Washington Street, just south of where the South Mountain Freeway will connect with Interstate 10, these sample bridge piers and sound walls provide a full-scale view of the layers, depths, shapes and paint colors planned for the 22-mile-long freeway corridor.

“Creating mocks-ups, like these Stonehenge-like structures, is an important part of the overall design process in building an aesthetically pleasing freeway,” said Joseph Salazar, ADOT’s roadside development, project landscape and architecture coordinator. “By testing these different colors, patterns and shapes in advance of freeway construction, we have a better idea of what the final product will look like.” 

The South Mountain Freeway will feature five distinctive aesthetic character areas to complement its surroundings, help tell an area’s story and create a more appealing environment for drivers. Some patterns will evoke the area’s agricultural heritage, while others will feature desert plants and simple shapes based on native cholla and ocotillo cactuses.

The South Mountain Freeway, scheduled to open by late 2019, will provide a long-planned direct link between the East Valley and West Valley and a much-needed alternative to Interstate 10 through downtown Phoenix. Approved by Maricopa County voters in 1985 and again in 2004 as part of a comprehensive regional transportation plan, the South Mountain Freeway will complete the Loop 202 and Loop 101 freeway system in the Valley.

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