Best Transportation Project: Loop 303: Happy Valley Road to Lake Pleasant Parkway, Peoria, Ariz.

Photo Courtesy of Austin Bridge & Road
Loop 303: Happy Valley Road to Lake Pleasant Parkway, Peoria, Ariz.

This 5.35-mile highway project provides a critical connection between interstates 10 and 17, linking the West Valley with the rest of Phoenix.

The rolling terrain is unusual for a typical urban freeway, necessitating more than 2.1 million cu yd of excavation through a variety of soils and rock. The project provided the "opportunity from the outset to design the outer four-lane facility of what will ultimately become 10 lanes across virgin ground," says Marv Small, lead roadway engineer with AZTEC Engineering, Phoenix. "I would guess there are nowadays less than 100 engineers in the country given this chance in their careers."

Construction required 8 million lb of reinforced steel, 341,300 cu yd of Portland cement concrete pavement and 20,306 tons of asphaltic concrete. Crews built three pairs of cast-in-place, post-tensioned, box girder concrete bridges, along with 12 precast, pre-stressed, AASHTO concrete girder bridges and nine box culverts.

The aesthetics for the project include plants, salvaged surface soils and architectural textures and colors that blend the built environment with its natural surroundings. Saguaro cacti were temporarily housed and maintained on site before being returned to their place along the freeway, providing a sustainable landscape option that will not require irrigation.

An alternative value engineering proposal for one of the bridge's bank protection structures saved nearly $1 million, but the difficult construction involved setting a 45-ft-long, 60,000-lb precast panel wall in 20 ft of water on a 56-degree slope, says Chance Raser, deputy project manager with Austin Bridge. "It required exceptional cooperation of Austin, ADOT and AZTEC to complete the concept from inception to completion."

Austin performed community outreach during the project, and in one case gathered on a Saturday and used the company's heavy equipment to help the City of Peoria demolish an old 7-ft-high, 350-ft-long block wall fence. Additionally, Austin helped to upgrade a local playground in a low-income neighborhood.

Submitted by: Austin Bridge & Road

Key Players 

Owner: Arizona Dept. of Transportation, Phoenix

Contractor: Austin Bridge & Road, Phoenix

Lead Design/Engineer: AZTEC Engineering, Phoenix

MEP Engineer: Stanley Consultants Inc., Phoenix

Excavation: Rummel Construction Inc., Scottsdale, Ariz.

Electrical: Rural Electric Inc., Mesa, Ariz.

Landscaping: Recon Inc., Phoenix, Ariz.

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