Turn around, don’t drown – a very familiar statement all Arizonans hear during wet weather, especially monsoons. The Sonoran desert is often prone to flash floods in what are normally dry creeks and waterways.
When Queen Creek floods and is impassable, the Panther Drive crossing is often closed for days and in some cases almost a week or more at a time when there is ongoing inclement weather in the area. The closure of Panther Drive affects the route for Emergency Service responders, Fire and EMS, affects the route to the school campus and of course is a hinderance to residents.
Knowing this is an ongoing problem, the Town of Superior has been seeking funding from the federal and state governments to fund the $2.5 million project. This year the funding was approved by the Arizona State Legislature as part of the current fiscal year budget.
Town Manger Todd Pryor, reported that the Town has already received the funding and design work is already underway. Senator Wendy Rodgers, who represents Superior’s legislative district, championed this project and helped the Town secure the funding.
This low water crossing serves a large section of the Town as primary access, including the Superior Fire Department, Kennedy Elementary, Superior High School, and many residential units. The crossing regularly rises to a level that requires road closure. The impacts of climate change and wildland fires have led to an increase in this sort of closure, and drivers barricades have ignored putting themselves in peril. At least one serious accident has occurred as a result. When the road is closed, emergency responders who are based at the fire station must detour around the closure, adding three to five minutes to their response times.
Design and permitting will take approximately one year and construction could begin in 2024.
“The Town is very appreciative to Senator Rodgers for supporting this critical life-safety improvement for Superior’s residents and visitors,” said Mayor Mila Besich.