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The Queen Creek Tunnel is a 1,217-foot-long (371 m) tunnel on US 60 in the Superstition Mountains, just east of Superior, Arizona.[2] Completed in 1952, the Queen Creek Tunnel links Phoenix with Safford by way of Superior and Globe/Miami. It replaced the smaller Claypool Tunnel that had been built in 1926. The new tunnel was cut through the solid rock of the Queen Creek gorge, approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) from the 4,625-foot (1,410 m) mountain summit.[3]. It is 22 feet (6.7 m) in height and 42 feet (13 m) wide at its base.[4] The cost of the tunnel at the time of its construction was $550,000[5] and it was built by the Fisher Contracting Company.[6]

Queen Creek Tunnel
Gila County-Queen Creek Tunnel-Hwy 60 in Gila County-1952-2.jpg
LocationPinal County, Arizona
Coordinates33°18′18″N 111°04′50″W / 33.305°N 111.08056°W / 33.305; -111.08056Coordinates: 33°18′18″N 111°04′50″W / 33.305°N 111.08056°W / 33.305; -111.08056
Route US 60
Work begun1950
OwnerArizona Department of Transportation
Vehicles per day7060 (2015 daily average)[1]
Length1,217 feet
No. of lanes3
Tunnel clearance22 feet
Width42 feet

At the 1952 dedication ceremony, a drill rig used in boring the tunnel was used as a platform for the speakers, other officials, and a brass band.[6] The completion of the tunnel was the final part of a Arizona Highway Department program begun in 1937 to improve the original approximately 20-mile (32 km) section of US 60 between Superior and Miami that was constructed in 1920–22.[7]

The roadbed in the tunnel climbs at a 6% grade, and the original lighting was insufficient to allow motorists good depth perception. The original lighting was improved with the installation of fluorescent lights in the 1960s.[8] Assistance in design of the new lighting was given by Arizona Public Service and the California Division of Highways.[9]

In October 2016, the tunnel lighting system was upgraded to light-emitting diode (LED) technology; it was the first tunnel in Arizona to get LEDs.[10] The lighting system adjusts the lighting level based upon ambient light and weather conditions outside with an adaptive control system. The system offers improved visibility, reduced energy consumption, and lower maintenance.[10]

Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) plans to eventually widen US 60 in the area and may bypass the tunnel to avoid the impact of such a project on an environmentally sensitive canyon.[11]


  1. ^ "Average Annual Daily Traffic (AADT)". Arizona Department of Transportation. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  2. ^ Green, Stewart M. (September 15, 2009). Scenic Driving Arizona. Roman & Littlefield. ISBN 9780762750542.
  3. ^ "Queen Creek Tunnel". Arizona Highways. 34. 1958.
  4. ^ Miller, Joseph (1940). Arizona, the Grand Canyon State: A State Guide. New York: Hastings House. p. 349.
  5. ^ Leach, Al (January 1951). "Arizona contractor speeds drilling at Queen Creek Tunnel". Pacific Road Builder and Engineering. 76 (1).
  6. ^ a b "Dedications". Engineering News-Record. 151. 1953.
  7. ^ "Annual Report – Bureau of Public Roads". 37. US Department of Commerce. 1953: 15. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ Dannhausen, William O (1959). "What's going on". Better Roads. 29.
  9. ^ "Traffic Engineering". Traffic Engineering. Institute of Traffic Engineers. 30: 46,52. 1960.
  10. ^ a b "US 60 Queen Creek Tunnel first in state to get LED lighting". October 7, 2016. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  11. ^ "Town of Superior small area transportation study". Arizona State Government Publications. State Library of Arizona. Retrieved October 9, 2016.

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