Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: The intersection of East 8th Street and U.S. Highway 70 is now closed and the road will remain a cul-de-sac until the city creates a loop connection to 7th Street/Pine Avenue.
By Jon Johnson
SAFFORD – After roughly six years since the Safford City Council first recommended closing East 8th Street at U.S. Highway 70, construction is now underway to do just that.
The closure is part of the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s highway development plan, which is also lining up the highways’s intersection with Hollywood Road, reconstructing the ingress/egress from the Walgreens’ entry on U.S. Highway 70, and will change out old low-pressure sodium street lights on the highway with new LED dark-sky compliant versions that automatically dim during the late night/early morning hours. Street lights at intersections will not dim.
Granite Construction was awarded the bid for the project and is currently working on closing East 8th Street and the Walgreens entry way. According to ADOT Safford District Engineer Bill Harmon, the $750,000-project should be completed by the end of March. He added that the new LED lights will be cheaper to operate and more telescope-friendly.
Harmon said reconfiguring the island at the Walgreens will allow a softer ingress and egress for traffic and will still only allow exiting right turns while allowing both right and left turns to enter.
East 8th Street will temporarily become a 1,350-foot cul-de-sac until the city of Safford creates a loop to connect East 8th Street with 7th Street and Pine Avenue, which connects back to U.S. Highway 70.
The city previously purchased two parcels for a total of $321,000 to facilitate the new road and will have to bulldoze a residence to do so. However, according to City Engineer Randy Petty, action on the new road connection won’t commence until after the new fiscal year, which would be sometime after July. Petty said he believed the loop will tie in the subdivision nicely.
“It will kind of complete that subdivision and make some connectivity and flow through there better,” Petty said.
East 8th Street is a 25 mph road badly in need of repair itself and is in the city’s improvement plan for a complete renovation. The cost to reconstruct East 8th Street from U.S. Highway 191 to U.S. Highway 70 has been quoted at roughly $1.5 million. The addition of the loop road will increase that amount.