ADOT starting a project to improve safety from the Salt River Canyon to Show Low

Ed Wilson, ADOT Northeast District Engineer

Did you know that about 60 percent of all roadway fatalities in Arizona are the result of vehicles leaving the road? These crashes are referred to as roadway departure crashes.

When a vehicle leaves the road it runs the risk of striking stationary objects, like trees. In fact, trees are the most commonly struck objects in serious crashes. In Arizona, most roadway departure crashes occur on two-lane rural highways.

On US 60 west of Show Low, between mileposts 292 and 340, there have been 11 fatal and 34 serious injury crashes over the last 10 years. Many of these crashes involved leaving the roadway.

In this same time period, there have been 31 tree-related crashes, including three fatal crashes and four serious injury crashes. When a car hits even a small tree, the result can be deadly.

That’s why ADOT, in its commitment to driver safety, is starting a project in this area to create “clear zones” on either side of the highway that are free of obstructions. This allows the driver time and space to stop  or regain control of the vehicle after leaving the roadway. Visibility next to the road is also improved.

This project, which will begin in mid-November, will greatly enhance driver safety by giving drivers enough time and space to recover from leaving the road by removing vegetation and trees within 30 feet of the edge of the highway in most locations and five feet behind guardrail-protected locations. All of this work will take place within ADOT’s right-of-way.

Additional benefits of this project are that drivers will have more time to react to any wildlife emerging from the forest and heading toward the highway, as well as reducing ice-related accidents caused by shading of the roadway in the winter months.

All trees removed from the clear zones will be reused in some way by local government entities.

Expect to see crews working along US 60 through next spring while we work to improve safety for drivers on this stretch of road. One lane of traffic will remain open at all times, and existing turn lanes will also stay open. Barricades or other traffic-control devices will be removed after crews finish working each day.

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