|State Route 303|
Maintained by ADOT
|Length:||21.84 mi (35.15 km)|
|CCW end:||I-10 in Goodyear|
|US 60 in Surprise|
|CW end:||Lake Pleasant Road|
State Route 303, also known as Loop 303 and Estrella Freeway, is a state highway that was maintained by Maricopa County in central Arizona serving the far western suburbs of the Phoenix metropolitan area until 2004 when the Arizona Department of Transportation again took the control of upgrading the interim road to a freeway. Formerly known as the Estrella Freeway, it was renamed in 2004 to honor former Arizona congressman Bob Stump.
Unlike Loop 101 and Loop 202, Loop 303 is not a controlled-access freeway, although there are plans to upgrade its status. Its current route is from just north of the Cotton Lane exit of Interstate 10 in Goodyear to Lake Pleasant Road, 6 miles (9.7 km) northeast of U.S. Route 60 (Grand Avenue) north of Sun City. When completed, it will connect to Interstate 17 in far northern Phoenix, along the planned Lone Mountain Road alignment, or 2 miles (3.2 km) south of State Route 74.
Loop 303 was originally a part of the 1985 Maricopa County Regional Transportation Plan to be funded by a sales tax approved by Maricopa County voters. The freeway, designed to service the Northwest Valley, would have been completed sometime by 2014. However, funding shortfalls and increasing construction costs forced cutbacks in the plan, and in 1995 the freeway was dropped from the regional plans.
Maricopa County took charge of the Estrella Freeway project when it was dropped from the regional freeway plans, maintaining it as an interim 2-lane highway along the original corridor while keeping the state route designation. The county has made significant improvements to the roadway, extending it several miles north and east of US 60. While the highway is still largely a 2-lane rural road, the extension north of US 60 along with the southern terminus just north of Interstate 10 have been upgraded to a 4-lane divided parkway, and the segment between US 60 and Bell Road in Surprise has been partially upgraded to controlled-highway standards with overpasses and right-of-way for on-ramps.
With the extension of the sales tax approved in 2004, the highway has once again been added to the Regional Transportation Plan. As Maricopa County has completed much of the required study and preparation work, construction on the freeway is already underway with a planned completion date of the I-10 to I-17 segment by 2015. As of February 2009, construction of the Happy Valley Road interchange (which is the current northern terminus) began, along with the roadway northward to I-17.
According to a recent agreement between the state legislature and the state department of transportation, STAN (Statewide Transportation Acceleration Needs) funds will be used to build a partial interchange at Bell Road before 2010, several years before previously intended.
In response to a projected budget shortfall of $6.6 billion brought on by the recession, the Maricopa Association of Governments voted to suspend funding to numerous projects during a meeting on Ocotober 28, 2009. Some modifications to the Loop 303, such as a scaled-back design of its interchanges with I-10 and US Highway 60, were made to cope with the budget shortfall. Funding for an extension south of I-10 to the planned alignment of SR 801 was removed, effectively postponing the extension until after 2025.
The entire route is in Maricopa County.
|25.72||Happy Valley Road||Temporary end of SR 303|
|39.19||I-17||Future end of SR 303|