For the next 18 months, drivers who use I-10 between Tucson and Phoenix will be seeing additional construction work as crews begin widening the interstate to three lanes in each direction.

According to the latest Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) news release, widening work will take place on a four-mile stretch south of Earley Road to Interstate 8 (mileposts 196 to 200) in Casa Grande. The project is expected to be completed by summer 2019 and cost $36.6 million.

The project will add one lane of travel in each direction adjacent to the median, with a concrete barrier separating travel, as well as create new bridges over Jimmie Kerr Boulevard. Auxiliary lanes in both directions between I-8 and Jimmie Kerr Boulevard will also be added during the project, providing a safer alternative to the existing ramps.

Though construction crews will be working near the travel lanes, increased congestion is not anticipated in the area near Casa Grande. Traffic congestion isn’t pleasant, but the long-term outcome of hopefully a safer four-mile stretch will make it worth it.

The plan is for I-10 to have three lanes of travel from Casa Grande to Tucson. Another two-lane section of I-10 near Picacho is also under construction. The area near Picacho, including mileposts 209-213 has seen many fatal collisions over the past fifteen years.

However, north of Casa Grande, from milepost 184 through milepost 160 near Phoenix is still only two lanes. ADOT and the Gila River Nation have been unable to reach an agreement about land use, preventing ADOT from widening the area.

This stretch of I-10 is notorious for frequent crashes and severe traffic delays. Heavy truck traffic on I-10 contributes to both the accidents and the congestion.

The people of Arizona deserve a safe highway to travel on, especially between our two largest cities, Tucson and Phoenix.