Last girders set on 40-bridge project over Salt River are longest Ariz. DOT has ever used

Updated Oct 19, 2018

South Mountain Freeway construction

A 22-mile freeway around South Mountain in the Phoenix area will have 40 bridges and 1,000 girders. And some of the girders on the bridge over the Salt River are the longest girders that the Arizona Department of Transportation has ever used.

At 170 feet long and 169,000 pounds, they are part of the system that includes 292 concrete girders newly installed on two Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway bridges spanning the Salt River between Broadway Road and Southern Avenue in the southwest Valley, the department says.

The freeway connects the east and west valleys through southwest Phoenix.

The 292 count represents nearly a third of the 1,000 girders to be installed on 40 bridges throughout the 22-mile corridor, according to ADOT.

“Working overnight, crews recently placed the final support beams for the half-mile-long northbound and southbound bridges that will carry traffic across the Salt River when the South Mountain Freeway opens as early as late 2019,” the department says in a press release.

“Connect 202 Partners, developer of the South Mountain Freeway, placed the first girder at the Salt River on July 21, 2017.

South Mountain Freeway girders

Many of the girders are extremely long and heavy, at 169,000 pounds and 170 feet. That’s nine feet longer than any single-span girder ADOT has ever used for a bridge, the agency says.

All of the girders were manufactured locally and hauled to the construction site overnight, during times of light traffic flow. Two large cranes carefully hoisted and set the girders atop the bridges’ abutments and piers.

Now that all girders have been installed, crews will finish pouring concrete decks and adding barrier walls on the bridges. Construction equipment is expected to be able to cross the bridges by early 2019.

The freeway’s Salt River bridges will provide a much-needed local crossing to and from Laveen, especially when the river flows, while also reducing congestion at current crossings, Arizona DOT says.

The city of Phoenix’s 51st Avenue bridge is currently the lone all-weather Salt River crossing between 35th Avenue and Avondale Boulevard.

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“The South Mountain Freeway will provide a long-planned direct link between the East Valley and West Valley and alternative to Interstate 10 through downtown Phoenix,” the release says.

“Approved by Maricopa County voters in 1985 and again in 2004 as part of a comprehensive regional transportation plan, the South Mountain Freeway will complete the Loop 202 and Loop 101 freeway system in the Valley.

For information on the project, visit