Opportunity Is Knocking

Published by The Bee News

May 2, 2024

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Arizona’s State Transportation Board recently awarded a $106 million construction project to build a free-flowing traffic interchange for I-40, I-11, and U.S. 93 in Kingman, Arizona. Construction is to commence this summer.

This will eliminate the bottleneck at the junction of Beale Street and I-40 and as a result reduce congestion on the primary route between Phoenix and Las Vegas, Nevada. It will also improve safety and reduce travel times between these cities. The interchange is designed to handle projected traffic growth for the next 25 years.

Completion of the interchange will dramatically enhance Kingman’s viability as a light manufacturing center and shipping hub. It will also have an impact on regional tourism, and the overall development of Kingman. 

The evolution of transportation and related infrastructure is the cornerstone of Kingman’s founding, and the foundation for its growth. In Coyote Pass, location of the interchange construction, there are remnants of more than a century of highway development.

Near the summit of the pass and at Beale Springs are traces of the historic Hardyville and Mohave Prescott Road. Connecting Fort Mohave, and the Colorado River port of Hardyville, with Fort Whipple and the territorial capital of Prescott, this territorial era road played a pivotal role in the development of northwest Arizona.

The Beale Wagon Road also followed the pass. Connecting Fort Smith, Arkansas with a Colorado River crossing at the Mohave Road, this was one of the first federally funded roads built in the southwest. It was a primary southern route for people immigrating to California. 

In Coyote Pass these mid-19th century roads followed a pre-Columbian trade route that connected tribes and villages in northwestern Arizona, and villages of the Mohave people on the Colorado River, with tribes on the coast of present-day California. This was the route followed by the expedition Father Garces chronicled in 1776. 

Sections of these old roads have been incorporated into the Cerbat Foothills Recreation Area trail system. These trails, as well as the network at the White Cliffs Wagon Road, constitute one of the best urban trail systems in the southwest. 

There are also vestiges of US 466 in Coyote Pass as well. This early highway connected Moro Bay, California with its terminus at US 66 in Kingman. 

US 466 followed one of the first highways built for automobiles in Coyote Pass. Dating to 1913, this road connected Kingman with the mining town of Chloride. 

Indicative of the city’s historic link to transportation evolution and highway development is its association with US 66. Kingman is one of the communities mentioned in the song Get Your Kicks on Route 66.

Kingman was initially established as a railroad construction camp on the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad in the early 1880s. Completion of the railroad to the Colorado River, and eventually to Los Angles, transformed Kingman into a shipping hub for area ranches and mines, and a supply center for northwest Arizona. 

Today the railroad, a direct connection between Chicago and Los Angeles, and the Kingman industrial park, further enhances the city’s value as a shipping hub. There is also a tourism development aspect as Kingman is an Amtrack stop on the Southwest Chief. 

Written by Jim Hinckley’s America

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