Interstate 8 overpasses to be demolished
Motorists who use the interchange at Avenue 3E and Interstate 8 to get around town will have to find another route to take, at least for the weekend.
According to April McGee, of Project Information Associates, now that two new overpass bridges have been built and are being used at the congested interchange, the old ones will be torn down.
"People are definitely going to want to find another route to take," McGee said.
The demolition, which will require 3E to be closed underneath the Interstate, is set to begin at 3:30 a.m. on Saturday and last the entire weekend.
"People will still be able to travel on the interstate and exit in either direction because the onramps will remain open," McGee said. "What they won't be able to do is travel underneath the interstate."
For example, motorists traveling west on the interstate will be able to exit at 3E and turn north, while eastbound motorists will be able to take the onramp and travel south.
The interchange will reopen from its two-day closure to traffic in both directions early Monday morning around 5 a.m.
"The intent is to impact the public as little as possible," McGee said. "But the interchange will have to remain closed until the debris is removed and safety checks are completed to make sure there was no accidental damage to the roadway."
No explosive will be used in the demolition, McGee said. The bridges will instead be manually torn down using construction equipment.
"It will be a mechanical process using backhoes to ram the bridges," McGee said. "It's going to be very noisy."
The two new overpass bridges - longer, taller and wider than the existing ones - were built as part of a $9.1 million project. The contract was awarded to Meadow Valley Contractors of Phoenix a year ago.
The interchange reconstruction project, which has been under way since April, is needed to increase safety and decrease traffic congestion that occurs at the interchange.
With more than 500,000 crates of vegetables moving through the area on a daily basis by truck and commuter traffic included -3E is one of the busiest interchanges in Yuma, according to the local office of the Arizona Department of Transportation.
Once the project is completed, Avenue 3E will eventually be widened to provide two lanes of traffic in both directions, plus the addition of a left-turn lane to enter I-8.
New traffic signals will also be installed at the I-8 and Avenue 3E interchange. Other intersection improvements being made are a dual left turn from southbound 3E to go east on Gila Ridge, as well as the modification of the traffic signals.
Construction on the project is scheduled for completion in August 2004.