Newsroom | The ‘Small’ State Highway That Opened Doors for Big Business in Southeast Maricopa County

MAG News

It may have started as one of the smallest state highway routes in the Valley, but State Route (SR) 24 has grown into one of the most important stretches of highway in the region.

SR 24 - Mesa to Queen Creek - Key to landing multibillion-dollar investments

Prop 400

On the Move Partners in Progress logoUnder Proposition 400 in 2004, Maricopa County voters approved an extension of the half-cent sales tax for transportation. This series highlights projects built under Prop 400 — to let you know where your money is going and how it is improving your transportation experience.

It may have started as one of the smallest state highway routes in the Valley, but State Route (SR) 24 has grown into one of the most important stretches of highway in the region. The interim corridor is a high-capacity connection to the regional freeway network in the Southeast Valley. 

That connection is one of the factors that attracted LG Energy Solution (LGES) and its historic $5.5 billion investment along SR 24. LGES was one of the first major employers to invest along the corridor, noting that it selected the location due to its proximity to SR 24, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, and access to an abundant and educated workforce. 

“LG Energy Solution considered numerous factors when deciding where to site our planned battery manufacturing facility,” said Sophia Kim, a spokesperson for LG Energy Solution. “While the East Valley already has adequate existing transportation infrastructure, the prospect of State Route 24 expansion was appealing to us because it would strengthen our ability to grow and to attract critical suppliers to the region.” 

Freeway Corridor Provides Access for Economic Development

SR 24 was identified as a future need as early as 2003, even before the approval of Proposition 400 by Maricopa County voters in 2004. The region forecasted the growth in the Southeast Valley and identified that a freeway corridor would be required to provide access to job centers, commercial areas, residential development, and the regional transportation network. 

SR 24 has been constructed in phases – the first phase was only one mile long and included the corridor's initial construction from Loop 202 to Ellsworth Road. However, due to funding shortfalls, the region could only accommodate an interim solution to implement the planned second phase, extending the corridor from Ellsworth Road to Ironwood Drive. Phase I was completed by 2014, and the interim Phase II was wrapped up in 2022. Today, the corridor serves as a critical link between Maricopa County and Pinal County to the southeast.

SR 24 Project Area Map Courtesy of the Arizona Department of Transportation


Transportation Expansion Attracts LG Energy Solutions to Queen Creek

Construction of SR 24 was funded through Proposition 400, the dedicated half-cent sales tax for transportation. It was through Propositions 300 and 400 that the regional transportation network was built. The network is now a major attraction for new businesses such as LG Energy Solution and the expansion of existing firms.

Queen Creek Mayor Julia Wheatley headshot“LG Energy Solution will be the first company to break ground along the advanced manufacturing corridor, and it will have an immediate positive impact on the region by delivering not only capital investment but local jobs as well,” said Queen Creek Mayor Julia Wheatley, vice chair of the Transportation Policy Committee. “The 2,800 jobs LGES is bringing will make it the largest employer in Queen Creek. Beyond the impact on LGES, the SR 24 is a critical component of the transportation network for Queen Creek and the southeast region.”

LG Factory Leads to Population and Job Growth in Southeast Valley

The Southeast Valley expects to see major growth in population and jobs as a result of the LGES battery factory and SR 24. The interim facility is not designed to handle the full scope of operations planned by LG Energy Solution. Additional investment in supporting infrastructure is required to facilitate these expected levels of growth. 

Additional funding to upgrade SR 24 between Loop 202 and Ironwood Drive is prioritized in the first five years of the Regional Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Investment Plan approved by the Regional Council in 2021. However, funding for the project is contingent upon the passage of Proposition 479, the continuation of the dedicated half-cent sales tax for transportation.

An improved SR 24 corridor will save motorists an estimated $736 million in travel savings over a 15-year period, which is no small feat for a highway with humble beginnings.

Published March 1, 2024