Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.
George Washington Carver
SURPRISE, Ariz. — The expanded Loop 303will not be finished for another year, but the section in Surprise is days from completion.
When work crews lay down the final stretch of rubberized asphalt on Loop 303’s new northbound lanes between Peoria and Grand avenues this weekend, the project will mark a major milestone. It will not be until fall 2014 when new development is expected to begin to get rolling along that corridor in Surprise.
That is how long the Arizona Department of Transportation expects it to take for crews to finish the new highway to Interstate 10 in Goodyear, wrapping up transformation of a two-lane local road into a six-lane, freeway linking interstates 10 and 17, and bringing more nonlocal traffic through the center of Surprise.
While city officials have no retail or commercial projects they are prepared to announce immediately, they have mentioned several possibilities in the past.
“Having a dedicated freeway in our city brings many growth opportunities in both commercial and residential markets,” stated Assistant City Manager Jeff Mihelich in an e-mail.
“The success of the 303 Auto Show (at Loop 303 and Peoria Avenue) is an example of what we can look forward to. The 303 corridor is also an area ripe for medical expansion to meet future needs of a growing West Valley population,” continued Mr. Mihelich, who also serves as Community and Economic Development.
The auto mall, begun several years ago when Sands Chevrolet and Sands Kia moved in, now includes nearly a half dozen dealerships, including one under construction. With the area still largely undeveloped, dealers are looking to future growth in the area to fuel business.
New housing has picked up again in the city, especially in the areas south of Waddell Road within 3-6 miles of the expanded highway. Earlier this year, city officials granted approval for new phases that will include hundreds of units in Marley Park. Earlier this month, the Planning and Zoning Commission gave its OK to a redesigned proposal for 148 new units in the Sycamore Farms development off Loop 303 and north 165th Drive. The City Council was expected to act on the P&Z’s recommendation this week.
Officials with the business community, the city and surrounding municipalities believe commercial and retail growth is coming, too.
East Valley parallels
Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ab Jackson sees the West Valley following a similar pattern as that of the East Valley, where construction of the Loop 101 and Loop 202 freeways helped spur development in the late 1990s and 2000s.
“When you look at the east side, you can see we’re decades behind. But we have much more room to offer and we think the growth is going to come to the west side. The 303 is a vital part of that process. The 303 just offers a world of connections.”
Former Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs agrees.
The growth and development that occurred with the addition of the Loop 101 in her city will likely be replicated farther west when Loop 303 is completed. Ms. Scruggs noted Arrowhead Town Center Mall, a project that had been on the books for years was delayed until enough of the freeway was finished.
“It (Loop 101) enhanced it (growth) to where it is today,” she said. “Commercial development will only go where there are freeways.”
Mr. Jackson sees opportunities for light manufacturing along Surprise’s 303 corridor. “If you are a light manufacturing organization, you like to have good freeway access. I do not see a lot of heavy commercial coming into that area.”
Mr. Mihelich sees opportunity for the heavier industry growth around the Southwest Railplex. But even that area, home to expanding commercial warehouse-type structures, will benefit from the six-lane Loop 303. “An improved transportation system carries the potential for additional business as companies have a new and more convenient way to move their products,” he stated.
During the late 1990s and 2000s, Surprise’s residential development surged, expanding the city’s population almost threefold Todd Tande, recently elected to his first term on City Council and a former executive with the state of Indiana, believes that existing population, along with the expanded Loop 303, will help draw business.
“I would like to have some high-tech industries along the highway. Our selling point is there is an educated, stable work force that has a shorter commute,” Mr. Tande explained.
Mr. Mihelich agreed.
“A freeway provides potential for new local jobs. Our residents have said time and again they want to work where they live,” he stated.
Along with the potential for commuting and business connections come side effects of additional traffic. The possibility of more vehicles means the possibility of more accidents.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety, which patrols state highways, will continue monitoring Loop 303, noted spokesman Bart Graves.
“Our treatment of the expanded Loop 303 will be pretty much the way we patrol I-10, They will not reduce patrols along other highways,” he said.
Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office deputies, who patrol unincorporated areas of the county, including the roads around Loop 303 south of Peoria Avenue, is prepared for the possibility of additional vehicles on those roads, stated Lt. Ken Booker.
“As with the completion of any new roadway project, there is a strong possibility there may be an increase in traffic between Peoria and Bell roads. I do not, however, foresee an increase in traffic on the surrounding roadways,” Mr. Booker stated in an e-mail.
ADOT spokesman Doug Nintzel stated in an e-mail that the remaining paving work in Surprise would take place over the final two weekends of September. Traffic will be detoured along Reems Road. Meanwhile, an additional section of the expanded highway immediately south of Surprise will open within a week as well.
News editor Jeff Grant can be reached at email@example.com or 623-445-2805.
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