Newsroom | Study Sets Stage to Improve Travel Near Maricopa

MAG News

A new study of the heavily traveled State Route 347 near the city of Maricopa lays out a series of improvements that could shave up to 20 minutes off commute times for residents heading into the Phoenix area each day.

A new study of the heavily traveled State Route 347 near the city of Maricopa lays out a series of improvements that could shave up to 20 minutes off commute times for residents heading into the Phoenix area each day.

The recommendations from a SR 347 scoping study were accepted by the MAG Regional Council in June. The goal of the study was to build consensus around a corridor improvement plan. The study also lays the groundwork for more detailed environmental studies.

SR 347 at Riggs Road photo courtesy of ADOT
SR 347 and Riggs Road (Courtesy of ADOT)

Corridor connects Maricopa and Phoenix areas

The study covers a 20-mile corridor that includes the I-10 interchange of SR 347 and runs southwest to Peters and Nall Road, south of the city of Maricopa. It includes portions of the Gila River Indian Community and Ak-Chin Indian Community, as well as Maricopa County, Pinal County, and the city of Maricopa. 

SR 347 Map

SR 347 is the most direct option for people traveling between the city of Maricopa and the surrounding area of Pinal County into the Phoenix metro area. It also provides access to the Wild Horse Pass development area. Congestion is severe along this corridor, particularly at intersections with traffic signals. This congestion is especially bad during morning and afternoon rush hours.

Maricopa Mayor Christian Price said the partnership with neighboring communities made the study a success.

“Frankly, we would not be here today if it hadn’t been for the support of Governor (Stephen Roe) Lewis and for the Gila River Indian Community,” said Price, who also noted the improvements are critical for his rapidly growing community. According to the 2020 Census, the city of Maricopa saw nearly 34 percent population growth in the past 10 years. “We can’t keep going down this road without some alleviation,” said Price.

The study was led by a stakeholder group that included the Gila River Indian Community, Ak-Chin Indian Community, city of Maricopa, Maricopa and Pinal counties, the Federal Highway Administration, Arizona Department of Transportation, and MAG. The study started with 134 possible corridor and intersection improvement strategies, which were then pared down to a few corridor strategies and spot improvements at intersections.

Arizona Parkway Concept

The recommendations focus on creating an “Arizona Parkway” along much of SR 347. This concept removes left turns at many intersections and allows U-turns through the median further downstream. Computer models for the year 2040 predict applying the Arizona Parkway Concept would improve travel times by 20 minutes during the morning commute, while traditional widening would only improve travel time by 10 minutes. The parkway concept was also predicted to improve safety by reducing the number of potential conflicts within the intersections. The study also recommends a grade-separated intersection at Riggs Road.

SR 347 Parkway

The recommendations are consistent with survey feedback received from more than 200 residents and were strongly supported by stakeholders.

Key partnerships at work

“This shows really innovative partnerships between regional organizations, cities, and sovereign tribal nations coming together addressing important infrastructure issues and transportation issues,” said Gila River Indian Community Governor Stephen Roe Lewis, who affirmed the Community’s full support of the study recommendations. “(This is) critical not only to address the growth but also bringing in the safety issues as well. I think this is a best practice that we can all be proud of,” he said.

Not all the recommended improvements are currently funded. Some improvements, such as the I-10/SR 347 interchange, will be funded through the current half-cent sales tax known as Proposition 400. Improvements along the northern section of SR 347 in Maricopa County are proposed as part of an investment plan funded if voters approve a 25-year extension of the dedicated tax.  The grade-separated intersection at Riggs Road will be funded by a state appropriation. Meanwhile, voters in Pinal County would need to approve a Pinal Regional Transportation Authority ballot measure to contribute funding for improvements in Pinal County.

SR 347 Bridge, photo courtesy of ADOT
SR 347 Bridge in Maricopa (Courtesy of ADOT)

Published July 6, 2022