Bell/Grand ramps work wraps Thursday

The Bell Road bridge eastbound exit ramp is pictured along Grand Avenue Friday, Feb. 10, 2017 in Surprise. (Jacob Stanek/Independent Newsmedia)
ADOT construction workers pave the median connected to the east side of the Bell Road bridge on and off ramps Friday, Feb. 10, 2017 in Surprise. (Jacob Stanek/Independent Newsmedia)

By Richard Smith
Independent Newsmedia
Barring last minute delays, the intersection of Bell Road and Grand Avenue will be whole again Thursday.
Grand Avenue ramps to and from Bell Road will be opened, essentially completing the 13-month project.
If the timeline holds, the project will be complete with eight days to spare before spring training starts Feb. 25 — the stated goal of the Arizona Department of Transportation, Surprise officials and local businesses.
“We certainly had to work around the recent storms. The prime contractor, Coffman Specialties, deserves credit to meeting our two major goals: reopening Bell Road before the holiday shopping season and now opening the Grand Avenue ramp connections to the Bell Road bridge. Pardon the pun, but they covered a lot of ground over the last four months,” ADOT spokesman Doug Nintzel said.
This time there was more of a cushion than with the other crucial project deadline — completing the Bell Road bridge before Thanksgiving. Crews made it by two days.
The traffic signal atop the Bell Road bridge and Grand Avenue was activated Monday.
“The light at the top of the bridge will be controlled by our internal traffic system,” said Armando Lopez, Surprise’s engineering and construction lead on the project.
The main access points for the ramps will be Towne Center Drive in the north and Bell Grande Drive to the south.
Northbound drivers on Grand can access Bell Road from a ramp at Bell Grande, right next to the current left turn lane for Surprise Marketplace. Overhead signs will show drivers how to get to Bell.
“We do want to remind drivers in the area that the interchange could be something they’re not as used to. The ramps connect from the middle, or median, of Grand Avenue to the center section of the Bell Road bridge. The traffic light system on the Bell Road bridge will regulate the turn movements. That might sound obvious, but it’s still important to pay attention to signs and any other traffic-control devices. And of course use caution when merging from the on-ramps into Grand Avenue traffic,” Mr. Nintzel said.
Southbound drivers on Grand have a similar access to the ramps onto Bell Road at Towne Center Drive. From both of these roads, ramps will flow toward the traffic light atop the Bell Bridge, at which point drivers can turn left or right onto Bell.
Grand Avenue will be restricted to one lane in both directions at times over the next couple of weeks during daytime hours. Two lanes of traffic will be back in place at the end of each day.
While the ramp opening restores the intersection, some odds and ends remain before construction is complete.
“The work won’t end with the opening of the Grand Avenue ramps. This is obviously a major milestone for the project team to achieve. Our final checklist will focus on landscaping, drainage systems and replacing temporary lane striping with a more permanent material in the coming weeks,” Mr. Nintzel said.
If you have questions or concerns, call the project hotline at 855-712-8530 and press option No. 1, or send an email to bellandgrandinfo@azdot.gov.

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