By Anthony Smith
Earlier this year the Arizona Department of Transportation said it had a transportation backlog of “800 years.”
Anyone in Maricopa want to wait that long for relief on the 347, or for other transportation help?
No way. Too many missed Little League games. Too many bad commutes to and from work. Too much frustration. Too many accidents.
That’s why, after many years of listening to residents throughout Maricopa and Pinal County the Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to put on the Nov. 7 ballot a comprehensive road and freeway plan to get help now.
You have been demanding solutions. We have listened. Now “the people’s plan” for new roads and freeways in our area and throughout Pinal County is in your hands.
Maricopa is a big winner if Propositions 416 and 417 pass. More specifically here’s what we get:
*Expansion of Highway 347 from four to six lanes.
*A new 21-mile, four-lane East-West Corridor between Maricopa and Casa Grande connecting to I-10, providing an alternative to avoid it, too.
*Expanded Dial-A-Ride services in for the elderly and those in need
*According to the Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb and Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkmer, expanding existing roads and establishing new ones will allow police, fire and ambulances to get to Maricopa residents when it matters the most
*Additional roads and freeways throughout Pinal County to get you where you want to go, faster than you’re going now.
These measures are not just about getting traffic relief; they are also about getting safer roads. Tragically, we have lost 323 Pinal County residents in traffic fatalities in the past decade as population has increased. There have also been 878 other serious accidents and a whopping 19,159 overall. And, Interstate 10 in Pinal County is now ranked by national media as among the worst and most dangerous freeways in America.
I am a Republican who dislikes taxes as much as anyone. But the reality is that taxes are necessary for jails, roads, freeways and other vital services. Another reality is that Pinal County just doesn’t have the money without Propositions 416 and 417. If there was another way I would be supporting it. But neither wishful thinking nor the tooth fairy is going to get us the roads and freeways we need.
I am also glad for important safeguards in these measures, too. For example, at the request of San Tan Valley resident Michael Burke, who also serves as the chairman of the Pinal Republican Party, a Citizen’s Oversight Committee is part of the ballot measure to ensure key accountability for the expenditure of transportation funds if the votes pass. That committee will be made up of representatives from incorporated and unincorporated residents of Pinal County.
The cost of all of this is very small: $7.33 per month for the average household or less than 24 cents per day. Think if of it this way. Rather than spend a lot more than that on bottles of aspirin for all our traffic headaches, spend far less to get better and safer roads!
This effort to keep Pinal County moving in the right direction is endorsed by Maricopa Mayor Christian Price, most if not all of our Maricopa City Council, the Maricopa Chamber of Commerce and everyone who has had the honor of serving as mayor of Maricopa over the years.
For these and many other reasons I hope you will join me in voting Yes on Propositions 416 and 417.
Anthony Smith is a Pinal County supervisor and a Maricopa resident.