Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona

According to EHUACOM, Phoenix is the capital and largest city in Arizona, a state in the United States. Phoenix is one of the fastest growing metropolitan cities in the US, with a population of 1,625,000, making it the 5th largest city in the US. The agglomeration has 4,946,000 inhabitants (2021), thanks to immense suburbs.



According to MCAT-TEST-CENTERS, Phoenix is centrally located in the Arizona desert. The region is also called the Valley of the Sun because of its hot and sunny climate. Phoenix is located about 170 kilometers northwest of Arizona’s second city, Tucson, and 580 kilometers east of Los Angeles. Phoenix is 180 kilometers from the border with Mexico and 270 kilometers from the Grand Canyon.


The Phoenix area consists mainly of desert landscape and the region has some higher mountain ranges. Phoenix itself is located at an altitude of 330 meters, with the approximately 800 meter high South Mountain to the south and the 1,300 meter high Estrella Mountains to the southwest. In the built-up area, Camelback Mountain is a standout. Further north and east of Phoenix are mountains over 2,000 meters high. Irrigated farming also occurs in the Phoenix area, particularly south and west of Phoenix.


Historically, Phoenix’s economy has been based on agriculture, especially livestock, citrus, and cotton. By 1920 cotton was by far the largest industry in Phoenix, on three quarters of all available agricultural land cotton was grown. Cotton’s importance declined in the 1920s, and Phoenix was less affected by the economic depression of the 1930s than other American cities. During World War II, Phoenix was a regional military training center. The attractive climate and the availability of air conditioning from the 1950s onward resulted in rapid population growth.

Phoenix’s economy has not been focused on any particular industry in more recent years, although rapid population growth has fueled a large construction industry. Phoenix functions as an overflow area of ‚Äč‚Äčexpensive Southern California that attracts many domestic migrants. Phoenix is one of the few US cities that does not have a dominant industrial sector driving the regional economy. Most of the industry is light in character such as logistics and is mainly located in Phoenix itself. Phoenix also lacks a dominant office center, making its share of urban employment among the lowest in the United States.

Urban construction

Name Population
mesa 509,000
Chandler 279,000
Gilbert 273,000
Glendale 250,000
Scottsdale 243,000
Peoria 195,000
tempeh 184,000

Phoenix can be divided into two urban sectors, namely the northern part and the southeastern part. The northern part measures approximately 55 kilometers from west to east and 45 kilometers from north to south. The southeastern part measures 40 kilometers from west to east and 35 kilometers from north to south. Both sectors are linked by a relatively narrow urban corridor around Tempe, where the urban area is only 10 kilometers wide.

Phoenix is the largest conurbation in the United States classified as 100% suburban, and has virtually no urban core at all, except for a small and unimportant office center. From downtown to the north runs Central Avenue, a major employment corridor. The suburbs are so large that they have their own center and catchment area. The suburb Mesa is larger than some well-known American cities.

Further north of Phoenix, a suburban area has developed without a clear center. This is quite a vast area with little infrastructure and consists mainly of “ranch-style suburbs” with low densities. This region measures 30 kilometers from east to west and 15 kilometers from north to south, but is not directly connected to the rest of Phoenix. This area has been developed since the 1950s and at the time was even further away from the rest of Phoenix.

Population growth

Virtually the entire metropolitan area is in Maricopa County, only the easternmost and southernmost suburbs are in Pinal County.

Year Phoenix Maricopa County Pinal County total grow
1920 29,000 90,000 16,000 106,000
1930 48,000 151,000 22,000 173,000 +67,000
1940 65,000 186,000 29,000 215,000 +42,000
1950 107,000 332,000 43,000 375,000 +160,000
1960 439.000 664,000 63,000 727,000 +352,000
1970 582,000 971,000 68,000 1,039,000 +312,000
1980 790,000 1,509,000 91,000 1,600,000 +561,000
1990 983,000 2,122,000 116,000 2,238,000 +638,000
2000 1,321,000 3,072,000 180,000 3,252,000 +1,014,000
2010 1,446,000 3,817,000 376,000 4,193,000 +941,000
2020 1,608,000 4,438,000 430,000 4,868,000 +675,000
2021 1,625,000 4,497,000 450,000 4,946,000 +78,000

Phoenix is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. Until the 1960s it was an insignificant desert city, but from the 1970s it has developed into one of the largest urban areas in the country, with more than 4 million inhabitants in 2010. The conurbation is today the 12th largest in the country, the city of Phoenix is the 5th largest in the country. Phoenix is the largest capital city in the United States, as well as the only one with more than 1 million inhabitants.

Road network

Freeway in Phoenix.

In Phoenix and its suburbs, there is an ordered grid pattern with major roads intersecting exactly every mile. There are smaller residential streets in it. This system is efficient and provides a worthy alternative to the highways for local traffic.

The highways in Phoenix are primarily funded by the tax hike, rather than federal funding. Consequently, there are no 3-digit Interstate Highways in the metropolitan area, the largest in the United States where none exist. The main through routes are Interstate 10 and Interstate 17. In addition, the agglomeration has two ring roads; SR – 101 to Phoenix, and SR-202 to the eastern suburbs around Mesa. In addition, there are a number of other freeways, such as the Superstition Freeway (US 60) and SR-51. The SR-143 runs to the city’s airport. Given the vastness of the agglomeration, there are not that many highways. Nearly all highways in the metropolitan area are relatively new and exceptionally well-maintained, in contrast to Los Angeles, for example.

List of freeways

I-17 at Phoenix.

length first opening last opening max AADT 2016
87 km 1965 1990 296,000
61 km 1958 1967 211,000
43 km 1970 1992 233,000
2 km 2014 ? 30,000
27 km 1986 2003 162,000
98 km 198x 2001 220,000
6 km 1991 1992 93,000
124 km 1990 2019 201,000
35 km 2011 2016 45,000


See also Phoenix HOV system.

Phoenix has a very extensive network of HOV lanes, about 525 kilometers in 2013, and the government will spend $1.1 billion between 2005 and 2026 on upgrading the HOV system.

Ramp Rate

Ramp metering has been used extensively in the Phoenix region since the early 1990s. The system was modernized in 2010-2011. More than 180 of the 400 entrances in the region have a dosing system.


I-10 at the Loop 202 interchange in western Phoenix, opening in 2019.

Walk 202 west of Phoenix.

Because Phoenix was still an insignificant city of 100,000 inhabitants in 1950, there were no plans for an extensive highway network. In addition, Phoenix was also not an important junction for through highways, only the US 60 corridor was considered a priority at the time. The I-17 has only an interregional importance. Despite this, I-17 is Phoenix’s first freeway, in 1958 the first section opened to traffic just north of downtown. Between 1960 and roughly 1968, two highways were built in Phoenix, the I-17 north to Prescott and Flagstaff, and the I-10 from Phoenix to Tucson. I-10 to Los Angeles was not built at the time, the highway ended at US 60 in Quartzsite until 1972, so through traffic from Phoenix to Los Angeles had to travel via US 60, via Wickenburg.

In 1972 and 1978, I-10 was completed through the desert west of Phoenix. This was also the only road opening in the Phoenix area in the 1970s, and I-10 was still unfinished in Phoenix, only completing the section through the western suburbs of Phoenix between 1984 and 1988. Even then, the highway was not yet ready, the tunnel route near downtown only opened for traffic in 1990. However, through traffic has been able to use I-17 south of downtown since the 1960s, so the missing link isn’t as dramatic as it seems.

From the 1970s, the suburbs east of Phoenix began to grow significantly. These were Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert and the mega-suburb Mesa. The Superstition Freeway (US 60) was also constructed during that time to accommodate the growth. The highway was extended eastward from 1970 to 1985, with the easternmost section opening at Apache Junction in 1992. Despite this, the Phoenix metropolitan area had a very limited highway network well into the 1980s, comparable to Tucson today.

The second wave of construction began in the mid-1980s, when the Piestewa Freeway (SR-51) was built, and the Phoenix ring road, Loop 101, was begun. Construction of Loop 101 more or less coincided with Loop construction. 202, which forms a ring road around the eastern suburbs, and was built mainly in the 1990s. Loop 101 was completed at Phoenix in 2001, and the last sections of the original Loop 202 were opened between 2006 and 2008. After that period, work continued on two major projects, the Loop 303 on Phoenix’s northwest side, which opened between 2011 and 2017, and the third phase of the Loop 202 on Phoenix’s southwest side, which opened in 2019.


There are plans for significant highway expansion in the Phoenix area. Characteristic for the construction of the highways in Phoenix are the fairly large space reservations, which made possible later widening. Most highways have already been widened over time to cope with the enormous traffic growth. Between 2000 and 2010, the agglomeration grew by almost 1 million inhabitants, about 100,000 per year.

New construction

A planned project is the realization of Interstate 11 between Phoenix and Las Vegas. Both are the largest cities in the United States with no direct highway connection.

East of Phoenix, State Route 24 is planned to be extended further at Gilbert. In 2014, the interchange with Loop 202 opened. West of Phoenix, State Route 30 is planned parallel to I-10.

In the more distant future, an upgrade of SR-85 southwest of Phoenix is being explored. This should then become the direct connection between Phoenix and San Diego. The part in the far suburb of Buckeye has a space reservation in the median strip for a freeway.


An important widening project on the agenda is the widening of the Broadway Curve on I-10 in the suburb of Tempe. Due to rapid suburban growth in eastern Maricopa County and future growth in Pinal County, this will be the busiest stretch of highway in Phoenix, and likely the entire United States. The current planning provides for a parallel system with a total of 24 lanes.


Phoenix has relatively little congestion for a city of this size. In 2018, it was the 45th most congestion-prone city in the United States, [2] while it is the 11th largest conurbation in the country. Also, there are no larger cities worldwide that have less congestion than Phoenix.

The highways in Phoenix are very busy, with I-10 near the center being the busiest point with 291,000 vehicles per day. Congestion mainly occurs on this highway, as well as on I-17. The other highways are still largely free from large-scale congestion, but traffic intensities here are rising rapidly due to the rapid population growth. Especially to the north of the city, many new neighborhoods and suburbs are being built, sometimes with tens of thousands of inhabitants at the same time. This puts extra pressure on the existing north-south connections I-17 and SR-51. The largest work locations are around downtown Phoenix, near the airport and in Tempe. In addition, the large suburbs also have their own commercial zones.

Phoenix, Arizona