I-17 Headaches Last All Weekend (Expect 3 More Years of Them)

Anyone who has travelled I-17 north of Phoenix on a holiday weekend needs no reminder of its inadequacies and the headaches that result from heavy traffic and crashes. But drivers got several reminders this weekend. And noted below, any real improvements are almost surely three years down the road. This weekend’s major issues, in reverse order:

Upon returning the the Valley today (Monday), many drivers got caught in this: “Traffic is backed up on southbound Interstate 17 north of Black Canyon City for a crash at milepost 244,” ADOT announced around 11:20 a.m. By noon, the agency said the backup stretched some 19 miles. “Expect long delays on I-17 SB from Camp Verde to New River. Crash has cleared at MP 244 but traffic is backed up to Cordes Junction.”

The backups weren’t confined to traditional departure and return days. For several hours Sunday evening into the late night, southbound traffic was “heavy” from from Sunset Point to New River, despite any lane-blocking crashes, ADOT said.


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Earlier, around noon Sunday, a multi-vehicle crash just south of Rock Springs caused a 7-mile backup in the northbound lanes. Thirteen people were reportedly transported to hospitals.

And on Saturday, when many travelers were presumably aiming to avoid the Friday evening rush, the northbound getaway was miserable for several hours. Heavy traffic backed up from Sunset Point all the way down to the Carefree Highway. That stretch of the drive took an hour or more, ADOT reported (on a good day, it’s a 32-minute trip, according to Google Maps).

Get Used To It

When will things change? No significant improvements are planned for at least three years.

ADOT has funding for design and construction of a project that calls for one new lane in each direction between Anthem and Black Canyon City. That project is in the planning and design phase, with construction slated for the years 2021-22.

ADOT is also looking into the possibility of adding two “flex lanes,” also called “reversible lanes,” to the 8-mile grade from Black Canyon City to Sunset Point. The idea is to build two new lanes in the median, separated from current lanes by a barrier. Barriers at each end would allow only one direction of travel at a time—similar to how urban bridges give commuters extra lanes coming into a city during the morning rush, then devote the extra lanes to outbound traffic in the evening. The timetable for that potential project has not been set, but ADOT has talked about it as though it will happen (see details>>>).


Robert Roy Britt
NoPho resident Robert Roy Britt has written for In&Out publications since its inception in 2005. Britt began his journalism career in New Jersey newspapers in the early 1990s. He later became a science writer and was editor-in-chief of the online media sites Space.com and Live Science. He has written four novels. Email the author.
Robert Roy Britt on Email

Robert Roy Britt

NoPho resident Robert Roy Britt has written for In&Out publications since its inception in 2005. Britt began his journalism career in New Jersey newspapers in the early 1990s. He later became a science writer and was editor-in-chief of the online media sites Space.com and Live Science. He has written four novels. Email the author.

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