Construction to connect 51, Black Mountain Blvd. underway

Construction to connect 51, Black Mountain Blvd. underway

Posted: Jun 19, 2015 3:31 PM Updated: Jun 19, 2015 3:54 PM
 
The HOV lanes from northbound 51 to Loop 101 will be closed for most of the summer. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
The HOV lanes from northbound 51 to Loop 101 will be closed for most of the summer. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

A multi-million dollar construction project is now underway, and it might mean headaches for commuters and unwanted noise for residents. Right now, State Route 51 stops at the Loop 101, but this project will allow traffic on the 51 to head farther north. Crews are working to build ramps to connect the 51 with Black Mountain Boulevard.

TRAFFIC ALERT: State Route 51 being extended; road restrictions in place this weekend (June 18, 2015)

The construction started less than 24 hours ago and will make the rush hour commute a bit longer for at least a year, but city and state officials say the project is all part of a greater good.

Midday traffic along the northbound 51 moves at a good clip but once you hit the 101, the rush hour will not be so smooth because the HOV lanes will be shut down for most of the summer.

The artery will allow a steady stream of traffic right into and out of this quiet northeast residential area.

"We like living in this area; it's too bad," resident Danny Murray said. He and his wife have lived in Saguaro Valley for the past year and are concerned the traffic will give criminals easier access.

"I would imagine with the easier access there's going to be more crime," he said.

Neighbor Keith Nelson is more optimistic, saying the neighborhood is pretty safe already. He's more concerned about the noise.

"I thought it would bring more traffic to the neighborhood I was not for it," he said. "My wife is completely for it because she thinks it will give us easier access to the freeway."

That's exactly what the City of Phoenix says the project will achieve as it works to bridge that missing link to the 51.

According to city renderings, phase one, which connects Pinnacle Peak Road to Rough Rider Road via Black Mountain Boulevard, is complete.

Now crews are working to allow easier access to Pinnacle High School and the freeway and cut down on commute times.

"I think this will open up a lot of that and cut time off our travel commute," Nelson said.

The project, which was approved by county voters, is expected to be completed by the end of next summer and will cost nearly $18 million.

For more information about the project, check out BlackMountainBlvd.com or call the project hotline at 602-297-5203.