BISBEE — It was a sight to see Wednesday as three giant excavators worked high on a hill digging and pushing dirt down to State Route 80 near the intersection with State Route 90 through the Mule Mountain pass.

The Arizona Department of Transportation has been working on the highway since August and still has a long way to go as the project’s finish date is 2022. ADOT has been working on “rockfall mitigation” north of Bisbee to make the road more secure from falling rock.

“The project involves rock excavation and rock scaling to extend the width of the clear zone on both sides of the highway near Pintek Ranch Road at milepost 334 to decrease the risk of debris landing in the roadway,” ADOT states on its website.

ADOT noted, “However, if rock blasting is necessary, the contractor will need to close S.R. 80 to all traffic near the work zone. Blasting will only be allowed on pre–announced Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Motorists will need to use an alternate route during these hours.”

As a result of the dangerous work, there is only one lane of traffic open and drivers can expect a 15-minute delay as ADOT’s pilot car leads the way through construction area.

It is one of two SR 80 projects ongoing in Cochise County.

The other construction site runs from Benson at milepost 293 to Tombstone at milepost 309. Motorists should plan for intermittent lane restrictions and delays Friday, Nov. 5, for final striping.

Traffic restrictions are scheduled in both directions between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. One lane will remain open at all times. The speed limit will be reduced to 35 mph during striping, and will return to the original speed limit once work is completed.

Motorists should follow the directions of flaggers, allow extra travel time and use caution around construction personnel and equipment.

In Willcox

ADOT is completing a project to replace the deck on the bridge over Interstate 10 on the city’s west end. Preliminary work began in late March and should be completed soon.

The bridge over I-10 and the eastbound I-10 on-ramp will remain closed to all traffic for the duration of the project. Other exit and entrance ramps will remain open. However, vehicles will not be able to cross I-10.

Also, in Willcox, ADOT wants to hear from locals through Nov. 30 about a possible change to alleviate heavy truck traffic congestion.

There are two potential traffic circulation changes, out of six considered, to reduce the impact of freight traffic while improving safety in downtown Willcox. ADOT asks the community to offer feedback on which they would prefer. Comments can be made to keep the road as is with no changes.

“The two options were identified as part of an ongoing traffic circulation study and public feedback from a community survey conducted in August 2021,” stated ADOT. “The study looked at current and projected heavy truck traffic that flows between Interstate 10 and the industrial area on the southeast side of the city. Currently, the only way for heavy trucks to get between those areas is along S.R. 186 through downtown Willcox, creating congestion and slowing the movement of freight.”

An interim, short-term project would modify Haskell Avenue at the intersection with Maley Street by removing the left turn lanes to provide more space for trucks to turn. Left turns would instead be made from one lane that is shared by through traffic, left turns and right turns. This option would also eliminate the existing traffic signal and convert the intersection into a four-way stop.

A longer-term solution that would construct a new bypass roadway east of downtown Willcox. The road would link Maley Street at Second Avenue to Haskell Avenue at Rex Allen Drive, including a new at-grade railroad crossing.

ADOT pointed out the possible project is only in the study phase and no funding has been allocated for construction.

The public can find the community survey in English and Spanish at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/wilcoxCS2E. A paper version is available at Willcox City Hall, 101 S. Railroad Ave., and the Elsie S. Hogan Community Library, 100 N. Curtis Ave.