The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is proposing to open up five miles of State Route 88, but only to certain vehicles.
S.R. 88 has been closed since 2019, northeast of Apache Junction.
ADOT wants to spend $4 million to upgrade the highway between Fish Creek Hill Outlook and Apache Lake Marina Road. Drivers could then use iot to access Roosevelt Lake, however they would have to be in vehicles with high clearance, four-wheel drives, or utility terrain vehicles.
The plan would remove boulders on Fish Creek Hill, clear some of the rocks, repair retaining walls, install new signs, clean and replace damagede parts of the drainage system, and more.
ADOT said crews will start removing plants and shrubs, filling worn-down areas on the surface of the road and cleaning out culverts next month. If the project is given the green light, the U.S. Forest Service must review and approve the interim design since part of the Apache Trail goes through federal land. If that happens, the project would start later this year.
ADOT has a long-term plan to repair the highway that it unveiled in October and would allow most drivers to go on it, but that costs $33.5 million. The agency is still coming up with a final design and has to undergo an extensive environmental study. ADOT wants to chip-seal the road surface and widen it to 15 feet in steeper areas. For more safety, crews would add rock bolts to unstable rock surfaces, remove loose and overhanging rocks and place a concrete wall on steep sections.
The Apache Trail has been closed since 2019, when the Woodbury Fire burned through parts of the forest. After, a storm came through with six inches of rain, flooding the area. Rock slides damaged the unpaved road.