Maricopa has reached an agreement with the Arizona Department of Transportation to take control of projects on State Routes 347 and 238 that lie within the city limits, it was revealed at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
“Yesterday, we met with the leadership of ADOT,” said Vice Mayor Vincent Manfredi. “One of the biggest things we’ve been working on is getting them to turn over the work on State Route 238 and 347 within the city limits of Maricopa, to the City of Maricopa.”
City staff stressed that the agreement is not yet official.
“To be clear, these tentative arrangements do not give the city control of the full length of these roadways, including the section of SR 347 that runs through the Gila River Indian Reservation,” said Quinn Konold, digital communications director for City Manager Rick Horst’s office. “The city will continue to work with ADOT, its tribal partners, and all other appropriate jurisdictions to design a solution that adds additional capacity on SR 347 between Maricopa and I-10. ADOT will also still be responsible for the planned widening of SR 347 north of Smith-Enke to the city limits, which is recently underway for engineering design and is planned for construction next year. Once that project is complete, this final stretch of roadway will be given to the city of Maricopa.”
Manfredi said that despite the agreement being limited to work within the city, it still will be a boon to Maricopa in terms of development and preparing for its coming growth.
“(This) will turn over the 347 and the 238 to the city of Maricopa for us to control our own destiny when it comes to our own development,” Manfredi said. “That is big news. There are not many cities in this state or in this country where the work you have to do as a city is being held up at the state level by bureaucracy of a big department like that. And it’s not like they’re being mean, it’s that they have to worry about a lot of different things, and in the city of Maricopa we have to worry about one thing, and that is the city of Maricopa.”
Manfredi said benefits to the city will include giving it more control over its economic development efforts, allowing the city to construct ingress and egress routes for development projects that want to build here, giving it the ability to synchronize the timing of traffic signals in town and other projects the city wants to do on the two state routes.
Konold echoed the councilmember’s sentiments on the economic development benefits.
“Over its nearly two-decade existence, the city of Maricopa has not had any control over the maintenance and access to its major roadway,” Konold said. “This is not uncommon for young cities, as they often develop along major roadways or corridors. But as cities mature, it becomes imperative that they are able to shape their own destiny and make decisions at the local level that will be of the greatest benefit to its residents.
“If ultimately approved, the city would assume responsibility for maintaining these roadways,” Konold continued. “This agreement has the potential to significantly alleviate the permitting process for economic-development projects along those roadways. It also gives the city control over the ease of access, design of intersections, signage standards and traffic signal operations. In general, this move will make future development along these corridors easier and give the city a say into how this development unfolds.”
While city staff and councilmembers worked diligently to make the deal with ADOT, Manfredi highlighted efforts of two state lawmakers, who also were instrumental in the process – one of whom does not even represent the city yet.
But Manfredi said the work of state Senator TJ Shope and Rep. Teresa Martinez was key to making the agreement. Manfredi lauded the ability for the city to work directly with state lawmakers and utilize the connections city officials have built at the state level.
“So, although TJ Shope is not our state representative yet – he will be, well, maybe, there’s a state election coming – so he stepped in here and was working with ADOT to bring them to the table,” Manfredi said. “And he brought us to the table.”
Manfredi added that what Martinez has accomplished in a short time in office is remarkable.
“More importantly, Teresa Martinez, who in November was placed at the state capitol when Rep. (Bret) Roberts resigned to move out of state — I don’t know if you know anything about the Legislature, but it’s pretty dang hard to get things done. And she showed up and with her ferocity, she worked so hard to bring to the city of Maricopa the funding we’re going to need for the design (of SR 347) from the north part of the city through I-10.
“And that was the next thing we talked about with ADOT and how that’s going to be done,” Manfredi continued. “So, we’ll have our design done and any money left over from the $19 million that she secured for that design will then go to the 238 for construction and design there. These are the discussions you have when you have good, solid relationships and do the networking we do.”
Editor’s note: Vincent Manfredi is an owner of InMaricopa.