AZ Cenral – Ftn. Hills plans major upgrade to Shea Blvd.

FOUNTAIN HILLS – Shea Boulevard, the main gateway in and out of Fountain Hills, will undergo more than $7 million in renovations in the future, including the addition of a third lane.

To make room for swelling traffic, Fountain Hills plans to widen Shea on both sides from the town’s eastern border to Palisades Boulevard.

The project is divided into two phases. The first is expected to finish in 2011, while the second won’t start until 2020.

A 1,350-home development planned for northeastern Fountain Hills could pour hundreds of cars onto Shea starting in 2010.

Milelong traffic backups already are a routine event on holiday weekends, when vacationers pass through town on their way home.

Last week, the Fountain Hills Town Council agreed to pay an engineering firm $205,528 to design the first phase of improvements.

They include:
• A third lane on the north side of Shea, from Saguaro to 1,000 feet west of Technology Drive.
• Improvements at and near the intersection of Saguaro and Shea boulevards.
• Sidewalks on the north and south side of Shea.
• Upgrades to the traffic signal controllers at Shea and Saguaro, Center Lane and Technology Drive.

The project’s second phase will widen Shea from west of Technology to Palisades by 2023.

The project’s price tag is about $7.7 million. A reimbursement grant will cover up to 70 percent of the costs, according to the town.

Shea is the only arterial road connecting Scottsdale and Mesa that is north of McDowell Road.

The Maricopa Association of Governments predicts the daily weekday volume on Shea could reach 39,000 vehicles by 2030, up from 24,400 in 2006.

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