WILLCOX — Work has begun to reconstruct one of Cochise County’s busiest collector roads, in a first-of-its-kind project for the region.

Fort Grant Road near Willcox was paved in 2001 and has since developed 6- to 12-inch-wide cracks. The county is removing and recycling the existing pavement to repave the road.

“This is the first time we’ve done something like this,” said Engineering & Natural Resources Director Jackie Watkins. “It’s more environmentally friendly and will result in improved rideability.”

The road provides access to area residences, businesses, as well as into neighboring Graham County. The cost of the project will be up to $3.9 million.

At the Board of Supervisors regular meeting Sept. 24, Watkins and Public Works Director Marty Haverty requested approval to move $2.5 million from the contingency fund to cover the cost of the project. The money will also help pay for another major road reconstruction along Robbs Road, near Willcox, and is being paid for through Highway User Revenue Funds (HURF) distributed by the state.

Since the county has not undertaken a project like Fort Grant Road before, and due to changes in market conditions, the estimated costs fell short of the bid the county received for the work. However, the county had carried forward HURF monies from the previous fiscal year and was able to cover the costs. The board unanimously agreed to move the funds.

The first phase of the Fort Grant Road project — a 1.5-mile stretch from N. Ingram Road — began Sept. 26 and is expected to take about a week. Chip and seal work will take place in October.

With warmer and dry weather needed for road construction, the second phase is expected to begin in spring 2020. The length of the project is from N. Ingram Road to the county line.

Drivers are reminded to proceed with caution, to follow road sign instructions and to slow down for the safety of construction crews.

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