Photo by Michael Barnes

By Ethan McSweeney

The Maricopa City Council approved an agreement with the Arizona Department of Transportation on Tuesday for the design of the planned State Route 347 overpass.

Under the terms of the agreement, the city will pay the Department of Transportation $525,700 toward the design of the overpass, which will span the Union Pacific Railroad tracks that cut through Maricopa. The city would be responsible for about 21 percent of costs that exceed the initial estimate with the rest of the costs falling on the state, according to the agreement.

The funds from Maricopa for the project will come out of the city’s Highway User Revenue Fund rather than Development Impact Fee (DIF) funds. After a brief discussion at the Tuesday night meeting, the present City Council members unanimously approved the terms, known as an intergovernmental agreement (IGA).

The wording in the agreement allows Maricopa to use DIF funds if city staff can find those funds.

“If DIF is available to fund this project, then that is the one we would pursue,” City Manager Gregory Rose said. “We would take as much as we can from DIF funds because they are so restricted.”

“HURF gives us a broader use, and so if you had to pick, you would want to pick something you know is a transportation-related project within the scope of DIF, that’s what you want to draw it from first,” Mayor Christian Price said. “But if you can keep HURF in reserve, that allows you the option of using HURF for other transportation projects that aren’t so strictly located as DIF is.”

Last year, the Department of Transportation placed the State Route 347 overpass in its Five-Year Program with hopes to finish the project by 2020.

The project will cost about $55 million to complete, according to ADOT, with the city of Maricopa contributing about $8 million, which will be spent in increments over the next few years.

The overpass is intended to ease traffic backups that occur on State Route 347 in Maricopa at the railroad crossing, according to ADOT.