PHOENIX — After months of public comment and debate over which state highway projects will be funded over the next five years, particularly in Greater Arizona, the State Transportation Board has reached its decision.
The board voted today to formally adopt the 2014-2018 Five-Year Transportation Facilities Construction Program. The board’s action now determines which projects will move forward in Greater Arizona while allocating dedicated funding to preservation of Arizona’s existing highway system over the next five years. In addition, four major projects will move forward in the Pima County region and 15 major projects will advance in the Maricopa County region using, in part, funding generated by those regions.
The board wrestled with some tough choices about how to fund major projects and still preserve the existing highway system. This year, the proposed projects for Greater Arizona drew a tremendous amount of interest and comment from communities across Arizona. Due to a major decline in transportation funding, the Arizona Department of Transportation must reduce the 2014-2018 Five-Year Program by a total of $350 million statewide and will move toward preserving existing highway infrastructure. This significant reduction in funding means fewer expansion projects will move forward, particularly in Greater Arizona.
“Today’s action is evidence that there are not enough funding resources to meet all the transportation needs across Arizona,” said ADOT Director John Halikowski. “The board had tough choices to make, given our limited funding resources. I want to commend Board Chairman Victor Flores and all the board members for their dedication to this difficult task and their collaboration with ADOT staff to work through the process and the changes.”
As part of the public comment process for the Five-Year Program, ADOT developed three scenarios to address how to fund projects in Greater Arizona with limited money. Scenario A focused on allocating the majority of funding to preservation. Scenario B focused on moving major projects forward with the available funding. Scenario C focused on a combination of preservation and major projects. Ultimately, the board adopted a modified version of Scenario C.
The following is the list of projects for Greater Arizona during the 2014-2018 Five-Year Program. The first item includes a project that was approved by the board to be accelerated to the current fiscal year (FY 2013):
- State Route 89, Deep Well Ranch Road to South Chino Valley: On June 14, the board voted to accelerate this highway widening project from FY 2014 to FY 2013, placing it in the current Five-Year Program. This is a $25 million project that will be funded with unexpended money from other ADOT highway projects.
- Interstate 10, Ehrenberg Port of Entry, Phase One: $8 million allocated in FY 2014 for technology improvements.
- US 95, Fortuna Wash Bridge Construction: $1.5 million allocated in FY 2014 for design and $13.5 million allocated in FY 2015 for construction.
- State Route 260, Lion Springs Section: Will be reduced from $40 million to $5 million, which will be allocated in FY 2018 for design work on this widening project. The $35 million previously allocated for this project will now go toward pavement preservation.
- US 60, Silver King Section and Superior Streets: $45 million accelerated from FY 2016 to FY 2015 for this widening project.
- State Route 260, Interstate 17 to Thousand Trails: $4 million allocated in FY 2014 for scoping and $62 million allocated in FY 2016 for construction of this widening project.
The public comment period for the 2014-2018 Five-Year Program began on March 8 and ended on May 17. During this time, public hearings were held in Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff and ADOT received 1,300 comments from people across Arizona who expressed their views about what projects should be included in the Five-Year Program.
The Five-Year Program serves as a blueprint for future projects and designates how much local, state and federal funding is allocated for those projects. It is divided into three sections: the Maricopa County region, the Pima County region and the 13 counties that make up Greater Arizona.
The Five-Year Program is updated annually. Each program begins with a long-range visioning process, moves into a more realistic 20-year plan and finally yields each Five-Year Program. The program is developed by working closely with local planning organizations and community leaders to identify ready-to-construct or design projects.
Funding for the Five-Year Program is generated by the users of transportation services, primarily through the gasoline tax and the vehicle license tax.