Dust storm warning system planned between Phoenix, Tucson

A dangerous 10-mile stretch of Interstate 10 near Eloy will be outfitted with a dust storm detection system. The project, which includes construction of additional highway lanes and an improved interchange, is expected to wrap up in fall 2019. (Photo by Jenna Miller/Cronkite News)

Tom Herrmann, a spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Transportation, said the dust detection system could help millions of drivers by increasing safety during dust storms. (Photo by Jenna Miller/Cronkite News)

Sharky Mallette, a superintendent at Paradise Rebar, supervised a crew of workers at a freeway construction site. The stretch of freeway that the workers are replacing has seen a number of accidents due to dust storms. (Photo by Jenna Miller/Cronkite News)

The Arizona Department of Transportation said this stretch of freeway, near Eloy, was chosen for the first of this type of dust detection system because it has been the site of the most dust related accidents. The department plans to complete construction on the system in 2019. (Photo by Jenna Miller/Cronkite News)

The I-10 is one of Arizona’s busiest freeways and there is ample daily traffic on this section between Tucson and Phoenix, which is currently under construction. (Photo by Jenna Miller/Cronkite News)

A new dust detection system will span several miles, including the freeway lanes that are built at this Eloy construction site. The system will include radars, cameras and alert signs that will detect storms and warn drivers to pull over. (Photo by Jenna Miller/Cronkite News)

Sharky Mallette (front left) and Cedric Davidson, employees of Paradise Rebar, work together on a structural element that will help hold up new I-10 freeway lanes near Eloy. The Arizona Department of Transportation is working to increase safety in this area, which is frequently troubled by dust storms. (Photo by Jenna Miller/Cronkite News)

ELOY – Arizona officials are installing a system along Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Tucson to warn drivers about dangerous dust storms.

The system of radar, cameras and electronic message boards is being installed along a 10-mile stretch of I-10 where it meets State Route 87, southeast of Eloy. The system is part of construction to improve the SR87 interchange and widen a portion of I-10.

Tom Herrmann, a spokesman with the Arizona Department of Transportation, said this busy stretch of freeway has had the most fatal accidents because of dust storms.

“It’s a very important section for the two largest metropolitan areas in (Arizona) when people are driving back and forth, so this will help millions of people,” Herrmann said.

“When you see a dust storm, and you can’t see where you’re going, pull off the highway. ‘Pull aside, stay alive.’ That’s been our mantra for the past seven or eight years, and we really think that’s going to continue to be an important part of this.”

The detection system is scheduled for completion in September 2019. In addition to the detection system, ADOT plans to add more cameras along the freeway to better monitor east- and westbound traffic.


– Cronkite News video by Nicole Costantino.

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