Driving along State Route 260, it’s impossible not to notice the bridge going up about a mile west of Cherry Creek Road.
“It’s really not that complicated a project,” said James Bramble, a resident engineer with Arizona Department of Transportation in charge of managing the State Route 260 improvement project. “The bridge will probably be complete by the end of the year .... Once that bridge is there, we’ll be able to put cars on it.”
The average height of the finished concrete and steel bridge, once completed, will be between 10 and 15 feet from the wash floor. It comprises three spans of “not quite 100 feet,” with a width of 48 feet.
The existing bridge, which will accommodate westbound traffic once the project is finished, will not be replaced. Its steel barriers will be updated with concrete ones, bringing the structure up to current design standards.
Though Bramble called the the improvement project “fairly uncomplicated overall,” some aspects have demanded uncommon solutions.
“The existing concrete box culverts are not quite up to our current standards,” Bramble said, meaning that ADOT crews will have to excavate the soil on top of them, replacing them with light “geofoam” backfill — basically lined styrofoam boxes.
“It lightens up load on box culverts .... And that’s a thing you don’t see every day,” he said.
According to Bramble, the biggest issue, by far, is the traffic involved in the improvement project: “The most challenging thing you have is 30,000 cars moving on the road each day .... Keeping traffic moving and access open is probably the most difficult part.”
Bramble urged drivers to manage their speed and pay attention.
“People do not slow down, and it is flat scary to be on the side of that road.”
Bramble said that despite occasional engineering challenges and drivers who aren’t as attentive to conditions as they should be — not to mention monsoon rainfalls that recently got washes flowing, depositing sediment in tricky places — the improvement project is going well.
“The weather’s been putting a bit of a damper on stuff, but we’re on schedule,” he said.