A 600-foot-long bridge over a flood-prone highway area will improve a major trade route between the U.S. and Mexico as well as improve safety for regular commuters, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) announced recently in Yuma.
Construction to improve a portion of U.S. 95 began last week and will continue until next winter, ADOT said, benefiting not only those crossing the state’s southern border, but also regular commuters, farm workers and tourists. The stretch of highway northeast of Yuma sees higher traffic in winter, and the bridge work is part of an effort to sidestep consequences of sudden flooding.
“Building a bridge over Fortuna Wash is a critical safety project for the Yuma County region, the Yuma Proving Ground and the agricultural industry,” ADOT’s Southwest District Engineer Paul Patane said. “Motorists rely on this roadway every day to travel between Yuma and Interstate 10, and flash flooding at Fortuna Wash has previously closed the only north-south corridor in the region, forcing motorists to take lengthy detours. This new bridge will be a huge benefit to the region.”
The Yuma Proving Ground, a U.S. Army site employing over 3,000, is situated approximately 10 miles north of the bridge. The facility also hosts a General Motors testing facility and represents over $430 million in Arizona annual revenue.
“I personally have waited many hours on Highway 95 over the years because Fortuna Wash floodwaters flowed over the road,” Chuck Wullenjohn, public affairs officer at Yuma Proving Ground, said. “The new bridge will be a boon both for commuters and for cargo shipments that will no longer face being impeded by a flowing wash.”
The Fortuna Wash bridge project is scheduled for a gradual phase-in, initially to accommodate two lanes with a center-turn lane; then widened to handle four lanes for a 15-mile stretch — pending further funding. Currently, the work is supported by a $3.2 million federal grant previous given to ADOT in 2011.
Motorists are advised to allow extra time as lane restrictions go into effect during work periods, slated for 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Temporary detours will be marked, with construction itself expected to start in March.