Opinion: Passage of Pinal County transportation tax vital to Maricopa

Anthony Smith [submitted]

Pinal County and many of our communities are once again leading Arizona in the rate of population growth, growing living-wage jobs and becoming a leader in economic prosperity.

To keep the economic-development engine humming and ensure we have a safe and reliable transportation network, leaders in Pinal County put on the November ballot a half-cent transportation tax, Proposition 469.

If voters approve this proposition, it would fund a series of transportation projects for a 20-year period, including the much-needed widening of State Route 347.

Maricopa is a great place to live, but traffic congestion on SR 347 is seriously impacting our quality of life, making it difficult to create a healthy and sustainable economy and, worst of all, contributing to the many road fatalities associated with the stretch of highway that have devastated families and loved ones.

To recap where we were back in 2017, when this was previously on the ballot: Our roads were becoming less safe, with an increasing number of fatalities, and severely congested. Help from the state and the feds was pretty much non-existent.

Arizona Department of Transportation was severely underfunded and basically in a maintenance mode. Congress was inept and we couldn’t depend on our federal representatives to push for our local projects.

Today, we’re still facing many of these same issues plus we’ve lost five years that could have been used to design and construct a series of critical road improvements.

Pinal County is at a crossroads. Our roads are not keeping up with our growth. Our first responders need reliable roads. We need a safe and viable transportation system that will extend our prosperity well into the next decades.

Waiting makes our roads less safe and multiplies the many hours we spend on roads already heavily congested. See a map with the complete list of proposed  transportation improvements.

In summary, the good news is that the transportation plan voters approved in 2017 is still the official, approved plan for improving our road network for the next 20 years.

The question now before voters is do you support Proposition 469, a half-cent transportation sales tax, to fund that transportation plan?

My answer is YES.

Anthony Smith is a former Maricopa mayor and former member of the Pinal County Board of Supervisors.