As any plans for improvements to State Route 347 sit immobile awaiting an appeals court ruling, Maricopa has much-longer-range transportation projects in the chute.
Some depend on the pace of growth while others are connected to regional projects. At least two involve crossings.
Like the SR 347, the East/West Corridor is part of the Pinal Regional Transportation Authority plan, which was approved by county voters in 2016. The funding portion of that plan, also approved by voters, has been in the courts ever since. The state’s Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the case in September.
But a portion of that corridor is in Maricopa and is part of the City’s capital improvement plan. In fact, the CIP budget has it scheduled for planning and design this fiscal year to the tune of $1.2 million through development impact fees. The goal is improving Farrell Road from SR 347 to Porter Road and creating a five-lane crossing over Santa Rose Wash to Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.
Amy Moran of Wilson & Company, who spoke to the City’s Transportation Committee in November, said the overall EWC project is “focusing on 2030.” That is where the county’s Regional Transportation Authority has recommended $1.95 million for design of the full project that takes traffic from Maricopa to Casa Grande and Interstate 10 along a realigned Val Vista Road.
Wilson & Company contracts with Maricopa Association of Governments as a transportation planner.
Though earlier traffic studies indicated the completion of the EWC would not be necessary until 2040, the pending Lucid Motors factory has pressed the issue. It is expected to break ground Dec. 2 and fill out its hiring by 2025 with up to 2,000 workers. County Supervisor Anthony Smith said the plant’s workforce recruitment goal is to hire 25% of its employees from Maricopa.
“The East/West Corridor connects Maricopa with Casa Grande and gives us an alternative way to get over to I-10,” Smith said. “More importantly, when Lucid is in there manufacturing, it gives the people of Maricopa a very convenient and expedited way to get over to that job market.”
For the Farrell Road portion of EWC, the City anticipates budgeting $3.1 million for further design and land acquisition next fiscal year. Construction and improvements are budgeted for the subsequent two fiscal years. The total cost of the City’s four-year plan is estimated at more than $21 million. That includes the bridge across the wash.
Ready for another overpass?
On the very-long-range outlook for Maricopa’s transportation corridors is another north-south route to carry traffic over the railroad tracks. That could include a second grade-separation project west of the SR 347 overpass.
Moran pointed out the completion of the current overpass brought expectation of more housing coming to the south side of Maricopa.
That, she said, would eventually lead to a need for another track crossing, including a grade separation. The target roadway is Green Road, which is a piecemeal, north-south path on the west side of the Maricopa planning area. It is on the regional transportation plan, she reminded the Transportation Committee.
“It would involve building a road,” Moran said.
Though that need is anticipated to be decades away, financially planning for the eventuality means looking at possible sources of funding now.
Currently, Maricopa’s primary paths over the tracks are SR 347 (overpass) and Porter Road (at grade). There are also at-grade crossings in the city limits at White and Parker Road and Hartman Road to the east and Ralston Road to the west.
Moran said the county and City of Maricopa may start looking now for available federal funding for another overpass as they look to the far future.
Compared to those projects, improvements to SR 347 are relatively close at hand, and Maricopa Association of Governments has an ongoing scoping study. Part of that effort is a survey MAG is conducting online at SurveyMonkey.com/r/VRTSZFJ.
This story appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.