Arizona State Route 79

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State Route 79 marker

State Route 79
Pinal Pioneer Parkway
SR 79 highlighted in red; SR 79 Bus. in blue
Route information
Maintained by ADOT
Length58.40 mi[1] (93.99 km)
Existed1992–present
HistoryThe entire route is a former section of US 80 and US 89
Tourist
routes
Historic US 80
Major junctions
South end SR 77 / Historic US 80 in Oracle Jct.
 
North endEl Camino Viejo in Florence Jct.
Location
CountiesPinal
Highway system
  • Arizona State Highway System
Arizona 78.svg SR 78US 80 1963 (AZ).svg US 80

State Route 79 (SR 79), also known as the Pinal Pioneer Parkway, is a 58.40 mi (93.99 km) long state highway in the U.S. state of Arizona. It serves as the main route through the town of Florence, which is also the county seat of Pinal County. Although the highway has been part of the state highway system since at least 1926, it was not designated as SR 79 until 1992. The highway was previously a section of U.S. Route 80 and U.S. Route 89 between Phoenix and Tucson, until both highways were decommissioned in 1977 and 1992 respectively. SR 79 is also the only state highway in Arizona that has a business route, which is SR 79 Business through downtown Florence. SR 79 is also notable for being the location where cowboy western actor Tom Mix lost his life in a car accident on October 14, 1940.

Route description[edit]

SR 79 Arizona, near Tom Mix Memorial with Mount Lemmon in distance

SR 79 begins at an intersection with State Route 77 in the unincorporated locality of Oracle Junction. From this point, it heads northwest through state owned land plentiful with Saguaro cacti on either side of the highway. The southern portion of SR 79 from Oracle Junction to just south of Florence is designated Pinal Pioneer Parkway, a scenic road of the high desert plain with views of the Santa Catalina and Tortilla Mountains. This stretch of road was so designated by the Arizona State Highway Department on January 10, 1961.[2] The first 40 miles of SR 79 is mostly uninhabited wilderness, with only a handful of small ranching communities siding the highway on occasion. Around 11 miles (18 km) north of SR 77, SR 79 crosses Olsen Wash and passes the Cadillac Chaparral Restaurants, one of the few notable man made features on this stretch of highway. North of Foreman Wash, the terrain becomes relatively flat and fairly featureless. SR 79 from this point on becomes a straight highway with no curves or turns. 24 miles (39 km) north of Oracle Junction, the highway passes the Tom Mix Memorial, located on the west side of the highway.[3] This is where popular western actor Tom Mix died after his Cord 812 convertible crashed into what is now designated the Tom Mix Wash while bridge construction was incomplete. The single-car high-speed accident led to his death after leaving the Oracle Junction Inn in 1940.[4]

SR 79 curves again at the outskirts of Florence, crossing over the Central Arizona Project and Florence–Casa Grande Canal, before arriving at an intersection with SR 79 Business. SR 79 continues north skirting the eastern edge of town on Pinal Parkway Avenue, meeting both SR 79 Business and SR 287 at Butte Street. This intersection acts as the eastern terminus of SR 287, which provides a direct connection to the city of Casa Grande, SR 87 and Interstate 10. Within the vicinity of Florence, SR 79 services several State, County, Private and Federal Prisons as well as the main offices and courthouses of Pinal County.[3] Directly north of Florence, SR 79 crosses the Gila River and intersects with the eastern terminus of Hunt Highway. The highway then curves northeast through the Florence Military Reservation. After crossing the tracks of the abandoned Magma Arizona Railroad, SR 79 arrives at a diamond interchange with U.S. Route 60 Exit 212. SR 79 continues for a short distance north of the interchange before ending at El Camino Viejo (old US 60) at the unincorporated locality of Florence Junction.[3]

The entirety of SR 79 is a direct surface route, roughly paralleling I-10 and serving as the main route through Florence. Florence is the county seat of Pinal County and formerly served the Silver King Mine.[5] Although Florence is not accessible by Interstate, it can be reached by I-10 traffic from SR 287 and SR 87 via Casa Grande and Coolidge. Florence is also accessible from the Phoenix Metropolitan Area by Hunt Highway. SR 79 also serves as a major back-road to the Phoenix and Tucson Metropolitan Areas with control cities along this route showing either Phoenix or Tucson. Though SR 79 does not go to either city, direct connections to both Phoenix and Tucson are provided by SR 77 and US 60.[3] Most of SR 79 is a segment of Historic U.S. Route 80, save for a small section through Florence, where it follows SR 79 Business instead.[6] According to INRIX (a traffic-monitoring agency). SR 79 as of 2011 was the fastest road in the nation, with the fastest 5% of the vehicles using it clocked at an average speed of 88 miles per hour.[7]

History[edit]

Tom Mix memorial near Florence, Arizona (32°49′17.4″N 111°12′12.5″W / 32.821500°N 111.203472°W / 32.821500; -111.203472), the site of his death

SR 79 is a former section of both U.S. Route 80 and U.S. Route 89. Both highways were originally designated along this highway on November 11, 1926. US 80 was the main highway across the southern half of the United States between San Diego, California and Savannah, Georgia, while US 89 was the main north–south highway in Arizona, connecting the cities of Tucson, Phoenix and Flagstaff with Mexico and Utah.[8] On the afternoon of October 12, 1940, silent film actor Tom Mix died in a car accident on US 80/US 89 18.5 miles southeast of Florence, Arizona.[4] The entire highway between Florence Junction and Oracle Junction remained completely unpaved until 1946, and was the last section of US 80 in the entire state to receive pavement.[9] The US 80 designation was decommissioned from this road in 1977, when the highway was removed between Yuma and Benson.[10] The remainder of US 80 was decommissioned in Arizona on October 6, 1989.[11] The highway remained part of US 89 until 1992, when the designation was truncated to Flagstaff.[12] SR 79 was designated as a segment of Historic U.S. Route 80 by the Arizona Department of Transportation in September 2018.[13]

The original SR 79 was designated on September 9, 1927 as part of the original state highways from Prescott to Jerome.[14] By 1928, it extended northeast to Flagstaff.[15] In 1941, this was redesignated as U.S. Route 89A.[16] In 1950, it was redesignated from Camp Verde to SR 69 at Cordes Junction.[17] In 1955, it was extended to US 89A south of Flagstaff over a county highway as SR 79T. SR 79T was to exist only until the proposed federal aid route between Camp Verde and Flagstaff was completed.[18] In 1962, SR 79's new routing was complete, and part of the temporary routing was abandoned back to county ownership.[19][20] The remainder of SR 79T was retired in 1964.[21] SR 79 was extended north to US 66 in 1964.[22] In August 1992, this route was cancelled, and the current SR 79 was assigned, as the old SR 79 became part of Interstate 17, causing the cancellation of US 89 south of Flagstaff, with one section renumbered to the current SR 79.[12]

Junction list[edit]

The entire route is in Pinal County.

Locationmi[1][a]kmDestinations[6]Notes
Oracle Junction91.14146.68 SR 77 / Historic US 80 east – Globe, Oro Valley, TucsonSouthern terminus; southern end of Historic US 80 concurrency
132.27212.87
SR 79 Bus. north / Historic US 80 west to SR 287 – Coolidge
Northern end of Historic US 80 concurrency
Florence134.01215.67
SR 79 Bus. south / SR 287 west / Historic US 80 east (Butte Ave)
Eastern terminus of SR 287; southern end of Historic US 80 concurrency
Gila River135.73218.44Bridge over the Gila River
136.03218.92Hunt Highway west – Queen CreekEastern terminus of Hunt Highway
Florence Junction150.01–
150.14
241.42–
241.63
US 60 / Historic US 80 west – Phoenix, GlobeNorthern end of Historic US 80 concurrency; interchange; US 60 exit 212
150.28241.85El Camino ViejoNorthern terminus; former US 60/US 70/US 80 west and former US 89 north
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

SR 79 Business[edit]


State Business Route 79
LocationFlorence
Length1.99 mi[1] (3.20 km)
Existed1992–present[12]

State Business Route 79 (SR 79 Bus.) is a business loop in central Arizona. It lies entirely within the town limits of Florence located in Pinal County.[3] This route used to be designated as both US 80 Business and US 89 Business.[23] SR 79 Business is also the only active business route of a state route in Arizona.[1]

The road begins south of town at its parent State Route 79 near the Central Arizona Project canal and travels northbound on Main Street passing a "Y" junction with State Route 287 to Coolidge. The road continues northbound to an intersection with Butte Ave, at a traffic light, where the highway turns east and passes the Pinal County Governmental Complex, it terminates at the junction with State Route 79 at the intersection of Butte Ave. and Pinal Parkway Avenue. It is the only state business loop in the state of Arizona. The junction with SR 287 and 79 is scheduled to be upgraded to a roundabout intersection. The current intersection has safety issues, including 8 driveways/entrance/exit points combining at different angles.[3]

The business loop gives access to the historic downtown and business district in Florence, passing by the Pinal County Government Complex, Pinal County Historical Museum and 1891 Pinal County Courthouse.[3]

Major intersections

The entire route is in Pinal County.

Locationmi[1][a]kmDestinations[6]Notes
132.03212.48 SR 79 / Historic US 80 east (Pinal Pioneer Parkway) – TucsonSouthern terminus; southern end of Historic US 80 concurrency
Florence132.73–
132.74
213.61–
213.62
SR 287 west (Florence–Coolidge Highway) – CoolidgeSouthern end of SR 287 concurrency
134.03215.70 SR 287 ends / SR 79 / Historic US 80 west (Pinal Parkway Avenue) – MesaNorthern terminus; northern end of Historic US 80 and SR 287 concurrencies
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b The mileage reflects the official ADOT mileposts along SR 79 and SR 79 Business, which are based on former US 89. Milepost 0.00 was on US 89 (now I-19 BL) at the United States–Mexico border in Nogales.

References[edit]

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata
  1. ^ a b c d e Roadway Inventory Management Section, Multimodal Planning Division (December 31, 2013). "2013 State Highway System Log" (PDF). Arizona Department of Transportation. Retrieved June 16, 2019.
  2. ^ "Pinal Pioneer Parkway Proposal Wins Approval". Arizona Daily Star. January 11, 1961. p. 13. Retrieved July 1, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Google (July 1, 2019). "Map of SR 79" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Mix Funeral to be Held in Hollywood". The New London Evening Day. October 14, 1940. Retrieved June 2, 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ About Florence
  6. ^ a b c Arizona State Transportation Board Meeting Agenda (PDF) (Report). Show Low, Arizona: Arizona State Transportation Board. July 20, 2018. pp. 310 to 339. Retrieved June 16, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ Woodyard, Chris (August 18, 2011). "Go 94 mph: Here are the five fastest highways in the U.S." USA Today. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
  8. ^ Bureau of Public Roads & American Association of State Highway Officials (November 11, 1926). United States System of Highways Adopted for Uniform Marking by the American Association of State Highway Officials (Map). 1:7,000,000. Washington, DC: United States Geological Survey. OCLC 32889555. Archived from the original on November 9, 2013. Retrieved August 23, 2016 – via University of North Texas Libraries. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ Arizona State Highway Department (1946). State Highway Department Road Map of Arizona (Map). 1:1,267,200. Cartography by W.M. DeMerse. Arizona Department of Transportation. Retrieved August 24, 2018 – via AARoads.
  10. ^ "U.S. 80 all but gives way to Interstate highways". Arizona Daily Star. 136 (361). Associated Press. December 27, 1977. p. 6C. Retrieved June 13, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  11. ^ Weingroff, Richard F. (October 17, 2013). "U.S. Route 80: The Dixie Overland Highway". Highway History. Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  12. ^ a b c Arizona Department of Transportation. "RENUMBER U.S. 89 FROM ORACLE JCT TO U.S. 60 (FLORENCE JCT)". Arizona Department of Transportation. Retrieved July 1, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ "Historic Arizona U.S. Route 80 Designation". Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation. August 2017. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  14. ^ Arizona State Highway Department (1927). Arizona State Highway Commission Official State Routes and State Highways of the State of Arizona (Map). 1:1,267,200. Cartography by W.B. Land. Arizona Department of Transportation. Retrieved October 16, 2019 – via AARoads.
  15. ^ Arizona Highway Department (1928). State Highway Department Road Map of Arizona (Map). 1:1,584,000. Phoenix: Arizona Highway Department. Retrieved July 1, 2019 – via AARoads.
  16. ^ Arizona Highway Department (1941). State Highway Department Road Map of Arizona (Map). 1:1,584,000. Phoenix: Arizona Highway Department. Retrieved July 1, 2019 – via AARoads.
  17. ^ Arizona Department of Transportation. "ADOT Right-of-Way Resolution 1950-P-393". Arizona Department of Transportation. Retrieved July 1, 2019. REDESIGNATE PORTION OF HWY AS STATE HIGHWAY 79 CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  18. ^ Arizona Department of Transportation. "ADOT Right-of-Way Resolution 1955-P-181". Arizona Department of Transportation. Retrieved July 1, 2019. ADD COUNTY ROAD TO STATE HWY SYSTEM FOR USE AS TEMP. ROUTE UNTIL F.A. PRIMARY ROUTE TO FLAGSTAFF IS COMPLETE CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  19. ^ Arizona Department of Transportation. "ADOT Right-of-Way Resolution 1962-P-107". Arizona Department of Transportation. Retrieved July 1, 2019. ESTABLISH AS ST. HWY. FROM SEC.13, T17N, R7E NW TO N. LINE OF SEC.1, T18N, R6E. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  20. ^ Arizona Department of Transportation. "ADOT Right-of-Way Resolution 1962-P-073". Arizona Department of Transportation. Retrieved July 1, 2019. ABANDON TEMPORARY S.R.79 FROM MCGUIREVILLE, NORTH & WEST TO JUNCTION U.S. ALT. 89. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  21. ^ Arizona Department of Transportation. "ADOT Right-of-Way Resolution 1964-P-013". Arizona Department of Transportation. Retrieved July 1, 2019. ABANDON HWY 79 FROM JCT OF 279 & TEMP 79 NORTH AND EAST TO HIGHWAY 79. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  22. ^ Arizona Department of Transportation. "ADOT Right-of-Way Resolution 1964-P-040". Arizona Department of Transportation. Retrieved July 1, 2019. EXTEND PORTION OF S.R. 79 FROM JCT S.R.79 & U.S.89A NORTH TO JCT OF U.S. 66. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  23. ^ "NETRonline: Historic Aerials - Viewer". NETR Online. Tempe, Arizona: Nationwide Environmental Title Research, LLC. September 10, 2018. Retrieved September 10, 2018.