“Can Can Blast” – Watch Explosions Move Mountains for Arizona’s I-17

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More than a year of blasting has come to an end for the Interstate 17 improvement project near Phoenix, Arizona, with entire sections of mountainsides removed.

In all, 62 controlled explosions were conducted, and to celebrate their conclusion, the Arizona Department of Transportation released the above video of the blasts set playfully to the “Galop Infernal” – music most often associated with the French Can Can dance.

The blasting is part of adding lanes along 23 miles between Anthem Way to Sunset Point. It began in December 2022, occurring during hourlong or shorter windows at 10 on weeknights. Crews were on a tight schedule, having to close the road, blast, clear the debris and reopen the highway within an hour, according to ADOT.

Arizona I17BlastingBlasting for more than a year removed 177,000 cubic yards of rock to make way for additional lanes on I-17 north of Phoenix.Arizona Department of TransportationThe 62 blasts were much fewer than the 120 originally estimated. Crews were able to rip the other areas with heavy equipment, which lessened traffic impact with fewer road closures.

They were also able to conduct the blasts much faster than expected, only stopping traffic for 20 minutes in many cases, ADOT says.

In all, the blasting removed 177,000 cubic yards of rock that was hauled to other areas of the project to be used as aggregate base, embankment and rock mulch for the new lanes.

“This eliminates the need to outsource material and cuts down on construction costs,” ADOT says. 

Construction is expected to continue on I-17 through 2025. Fifteen miles of new lanes between Anthem Way and Black Canyon City are expected to open by the end of 2024. Another 8 miles of “flex lanes” are set to open in 2025 between Black Canyon City and Sunset Point. These will be the first flex lanes in Arizona. The two extra lanes will carry one direction of traffic at a time and can alternate between north- and southbound directions during peak travel times or during traffic accidents.

“Once fully complete in 2025,” ADOT says, “this major design-build project will help alleviate congestion and improve safety and traffic flow along a Key Commerce Corridor that is crucial to the state’s travel, tourism and economic development opportunities.” 

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