Interstate 8 East - Maricopa County

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Interstate 8 east
Interstate 8 leaves Yuma County and enters Maricopa County. The most populous in Arizona, Maricopa County is home to Phoenix and its suburbs as well as Gila Bend. Photo taken 01/14/05.
The next exit along eastbound Interstate 8 is Exit 85, Rest Area. Vending machines and restrooms are available at this exit. Photo taken 01/14/05.
The final rest area on eastbound Interstate 8 is the Sentinel Rest Area near Milepost 85. The rest area that was formerly east of Gila Bend is currently closed. The next full-service rest area for eastbound travelers on Interstate 10 is not until east of Benson, which is on the other side of Tucson. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Continuing east, the next exit on Interstate 8 is Exit 87, Sentinel. The county road (Agua Caliente Road) extends north from Interstate 8 at Sentinel to Agua Caliente and Hyder. A vintage-era gas station from the days of U.S. 80 remains in place along the north side of Interstate 8. Photo taken 01/14/05.
The ghost town of Hyder is some 20 miles north of Interstate 8 via Agua Caliente Road north and Hyder Road west. Both roads are paved. Hyder was where George S. Patton trained some of his troops during World War II. Hyder is also the site of an Amtrak train derailment that was caused by terrorism on October 9, 1995, resulting in one death and 78 injuries.1 Photo taken 01/14/05.
Sentinel is a fairly small town on the north side of Interstate 8; the town lines the freeway along the small extant section of Old U.S. 80 that still remains. A gas station, small elementary school, and houses can be seen from the freeway; the railroad sits on the south side of the freeway. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Eastbound Interstate 8 reaches Exit 87, Sentinel and Hyder. There are no further services on the freeway until reaching Gila Bend, some 30 miles east of here. Photo taken 01/14/05.
This mileage sign provides the distance to the Arizona 85 interchange (Gila Bend, 27 miles) and Phoenix (92 miles). The railroad parallels Interstate 8 from Yuma to Gila Bend; it is on the south side of the freeway near Sentinel. Photo taken 01/14/05.
The next exit along eastbound Interstate 8 is Exit 102, Painted Rock Road. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Painted Rock Road travels north to the Painted Rock Dam on the Gila River and the Painted Rock Petroglyph Site, which offers camping, hiking, and picnicking. The Painted Rock Mountains can be seen to the northwest; they line the Gila River as it wends its way west toward the Colorado River. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Eastbound Interstate 8 reaches Exit 102, Painted Rock Road. Photo taken 01/14/05.
This mileage sign is posted on Interstate 8 east after the Painted Rock Road interchange. It again provides the mileage to Gila Bend (14 miles) and Tucson (137 miles). Photo taken 01/14/05.
The next exit on eastbound Interstate 8 is Exit 106, Paloma Road. Paloma Road leads south to the Theba. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Eastbound Interstate 8 approaches Paloma Road, one half mile. There are no services at this interchange. Photo taken 01/14/05.
The small settlement of Theba is located at the Interstate 8/Paloma Road interchange at Exit 106. Interstate 8 continues east toward Gila Bend. Photo taken 01/14/05.
This mileage sign is posted on Interstate 8 east after the Paloma Road interchange. It again provides the mileage to Gila Bend (10 miles) and Phoenix (72 miles), again excluding Tucson. Photo taken 01/14/05.
The next exit on eastbound Interstate 8 is Exit 111, Citrus Valley Road. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Eastbound Interstate 8 approaches Exit 111, Citrus Valley Road, one half mile. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Eastbound Interstate 8 reaches Exit 111, Citrus Valley Road, one half mile. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Two exits serve the town of Gila Bend: Exit 115, Junction Business Loop I-8 east and Arizona 85 north and Exit 119, Junction Business Loop I-8/Butterfield Trail west. The town of Gila Bend is known as the Crossroads of the Southwest. Home to 1,980 people as of the 2000 Census, Gila Bend is named for the nearly 90-degree bend in the Gila River that causes the river to change direction from southbound to westbound en route to the Colorado River. A welcome sign on the business route greets visitors: "Gila Bend Welcomes You - Home of 1700 Friendly People and 5 Old Crabs - Elevation 737 Feet. Photo taken 01/14/05.
This is the only sign on eastbound Interstate 8 that advises that both Exit 115, Junction Business Loop I-8 east and Arizona 85 north and Exit 119, Junction Business Loop I-8/Butterfield Trail west are part of the business loop for Interstate 8. The business loop follows northbound Arizona 85 into Gila Bend, which features fuel, lodging, and food. This blue guide sign is the only one that mentions Business Loop I-8. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Eastbound Interstate 8 approaches Exit 115, Junction Business Loop I-8 and Arizona 85, one mile. Notably, there are no further indications of Business Loop I-8 on these approach signs. Arizona 85 is the dominant exit here, because it forms part of the truck bypass for traffic along Interstate 10, and it is also the most direct route from Interstate 8 to Phoenix (although some would argue that Arizona 347 is better). Photo taken 01/14/05.
In addition to leading north to meet Interstate 10 near Buckeye (west of Phoenix), Arizona 85 also leads south to Ajo, Why, and Organ Pipe National Monument. At Lukeville, Arizona 85 enters Mexico, connecting to Mexico Federal Route 8 and Sonoyta, Sonora, Mexico. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Eastbound Interstate 8 approaches Exit 115, Junction Business Loop I-8 and Arizona 85, one half mile. Old U.S. 80 also splits off from Interstate 8 at Gila Bend. Following the Gila River, an old alignment of U.S. 80 stays west of Arizona 85 and provides a scenic, historical route. Additionally, Gila Bend is the last business loop for Interstate 8 along eastbound. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Eastbound Interstate 8 reaches Exit 115, Junction Business Loop I-8 and Arizona 85. Interstate 8 continues east en route to Casa Grande and Tucson, staying well to the south of Phoenix and the metropolitan areas. Through traffic to Phoenix should use either Arizona 85 (Exit 115) or Arizona 84 (Exit 151) to Arizona 347. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Finally transitioning from Interstate 8 east to Arizona 85 north/Business Loop I-8 east. As part of a project to expand Arizona 85 from two lanes to four lanes, portions of Arizona 85 between Gila Bend and Buckeye/Palo Verde is under construction at the time this photo was taken. When complete, the new divided highway will be a safer alternative to the two-lane highway that preceded it, and upon identification of funding, the roadway is planned for build out to Interstate standards. For more information, visit Arizona DOT's webpage: Arizona 85 Fact Sheet. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Back on the mainline, this reassurance shield for Interstate 8 east is posted after traffic from Arizona 85 (Exit 116) merges onto the freeway. There is no direct connection from eastbound Interstate 8 to Arizona 85; one must use Exit 115. Likewise, on westbound Interstate 8, there is no Exit 115, but there is an Exit 116 for Arizona 85. Photo taken 01/13/06.
View of eastbound Interstate 8 as it bypasses Gila Bend, which sits to the north of the freeway. Photo taken 01/13/06.
The next exit along eastbound Interstate 8 is Exit 119, Junction Business Loop I-8/Butterfield Trail, one mile. There are no more exits along eastbound Interstate 8 until Exit 140, Freeman Road. And there are limited services until Exit 151, Arizona 84 and Arizona 347. Photo taken 01/13/06.
Exit 119 is the second and final exit for Gila Bend. Now that Interstate 8 is no longer following Old U.S. 80, the freeway replaces old Arizona 84, which used to connect Gila Bend and Casa Grande, then turn southeast to Tucson. The only remaining segment of old Arizona 84 lies between Exit 151 and the end of Interstate 8. The rest of this historic route has been supplanted by Interstate 8 and Interstate 10 between Gila Bend and Tucson. Photo taken 01/13/06.
Eastbound Interstate 8 reaches Exit 119, Junction Business Loop I-8/Butterfield Trail. There are no services for the next 60 miles, the longest stretch without services on all of Interstate 8. The freeway will pass through some desolate country, with minimal motorist services and few exits. For most of the distance, Interstate 8 passes through the undeveloped Sonoran Desert National Monument. Photo taken 01/13/06.
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For the next 20 miles, Interstate 8 passes through the Sonoran Desert National Monument. The next couple of signs (both featured in this suite of photos) are mileage signs featuring the distance to Casa Grande, the eastern terminus of Interstate 8 at its junction with Interstate 10, and Tucson. However, this area is restricted from further development, as Interstate 8 pierces the heart of the new Sonoran Desert National Monument. In spite of the fact that all of Interstate 8 between Mileposts 120 and 155 are within the monument, there are no signs or visitor centers anywhere along the route. However, within the monument, motorists will see additional scenic vistas in the form of the beautiful skies, wide open spaces, saguaro cactus, and sharp mountains. Photos taken 01/13/06.
The next exit along eastbound Interstate 8 is Exit 140, Freeman Road, one mile. Made famous by the Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote cartoons, the Arizona desert begins to pick some of the attributes of that famous television show. While there aren't any large canyons and cliffs in this part of the state (those are primarily found in the northeastern portion of Arizona, in and around Monument Valley along U.S. 160 and U.S. 163), saguaro cacti are abundant and are the de facto tree of the desert. Photo taken 01/13/06.
Eastbound Interstate 8 reaches Exit 140, Freeman Road. There are no services available at this interchange. Photo taken 01/13/06.
This mileage sign provides the distance to Arizona 84 east and Arizona 347 north (10 miles), Casa Grande (38 miles), and Tucson (99 miles). Photo taken 01/13/06.
The next exit along eastbound Interstate 8 is Exit 144, Vekol Road. There are no services available at this interchange. Photo taken 01/13/06.
Eastbound Interstate 8 reaches Exit 144, Vekol Road. Traffic along this stretch of Interstate 8 is generally light, especially since most eastbound traffic opted to take Arizona 85 to Phoenix. Photo taken 01/13/06.
This mileage sign provides the distance to Arizona 84 east and Arizona 347 north (4 miles), Casa Grande (32 miles), and Tucson (93 miles). Interstate 8 leaves Maricopa County and enters Pinal County. Photo taken 01/13/06.


 

Sources:

  1. Domestic Terrorism Strikes AMTRAK by Paul Anderson, EmergencyNet NEWS Service, Emergency Response & Research Institute, October 9, 1995


Photo Credits:

01/14/05, 01/13/06 by AARoads

Connect with:
Business Loop I-8
Arizona 85

Page Updated 03-26-2007.