There’s still time for the public to give comment on the Arizona Department of Transportation’s Tentative five-year plan.
The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has been forecasting dramatic funding challenges since 2009. In the tentative five-year plan for 2014-2018, ADOT is budgeting for $350 million in reductions, due to stagnant revenue from gas and vehicle license taxes, and is moving toward a preservation-based highway system.
“Over the next five years, there will be less focus on expansion of the system state-wide,” said a statement from ADOT. “This is the first Five-Year Program that will reflect this dramatic change for the agency. This issue will be present in 2013, but will become much more pronounced by 2016, when $250 million will be cut from the program, and in 2017, when an additional $100 million will be cut from the program.”
ADOT Director John Halikowski said the state is at a crossroads.
“The time has come to make some tough decisions about how to spend our limited transportation dollars,” he said in a statement. “We are standing at a wide funding gap between the need for future transportation options and the reality of insufficient funds to pay for them. We need to move forward with a plan that focuses on preserving the good work we’ve done in creating a state highway system that connects communities and economies.”
Still, the tentative plan does have funding outlined for the South Mountain Freeway extension. The Loop 202 extension plan calls for $1.6 billion to be spent on design, right of way, acquisition, and construction of several segments of the freeway over the next five years. The project has been pushed back one year.
The plan is updated every year and provides details of where, when and how regional, state and federal funding will be spent on projects.
As ADOT moves toward a preservation-based highway system, there are three scenarios that are being considered and are up for public comment. The first scenario would focus on preservation of the existing highway system. The second scenario focuses the most investment on major projects with the lowest investment going toward preservation. The third scenario is a combination of major projects and preservation.
The State Transportation Board will consider all public comments received by May 17. The board is expected to adopt the final 2014-2018 Five-Year Program at the June 14 meeting in Pinetop-Lakeside.
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