After a year of rolling out the cold, hard facts about State Route 347, James Singleton’s website has created a following running all the way to the state capitol.
He has the email addresses of nearly 100 state lawmakers and state transportation department officials — and he uses them to keep their finger on the oft-angry pulse of 347 commuters.
Just last week, some of the letters residents wrote in comments on 347Facts.com ended up in the hands of state Rep. Teresa Martinez (R-Casa Grande), who was expected to pass them along to Gov. Katie Hobbs.
Hobbs proposes cutting about $25 million from the 347/Riggs Road overpass project she supported last year, but now wants to ax to eliminate a nearly $1 billion state budget deficit.
Singleton said site traffic peaked this month when news broke about the governor reneging on the 347 improvements she boasted about allocating to Maricopa late last year.
Singleton, a software engineer and vice chair of the city Planning & Zoning Commission, designed 347Facts.com and acts as its administrator. He built the site with the help of Bill Robertson, another Maricopa Planning and Zoning commissioner, and Ron Angerame, a Maricopan active in promoting a better 347.
“I would say we’ve had almost 350 people submit an email,” Singleton said of his website.
The site has attracted more than 3,000 visitors and Singleton said he wishes all would submit forms on the site, sharing their thoughts and complaints to Arizona Department of Transportation officials.
When planning the site more than a year ago, Singleton said he, Roberts and Angerame asked themselves how they could convey what was going on with 347, what improvements are funded or not, and “how do we get our point across.”
The site lets 347’s facts speak for themselves, hence the name. It also details information about what the state has funded for 347 work, and what is not funded.
On the site, readers can find questions and answers such as:
- Will the widening of 347 actually help bring businesses here? Singleton says yes, businesses that rely on transportation desire this road to be widened.
- Will the Riggs Road overpass impact the widening of the 347? Singleton contends no, the overpass can be completed separate from the widening of the 347.
- Why does the city continue to allow residential development when the 347 is so congested? Singleton says it’s a very complex question. It’s important to understand that Arizona is a property owner rights state. A moratorium on residential development has significant requirements, one being that the city has control over the need for improvement. The city does not control SR 347 but rather ADOT and the state legislature.
“I think it definitely informs those that are not on Facebook,” Singleton said. “This definitely gives the people of Maricopa a way to contact [state officials] and express their voice.”
Singleton said he normally checks the site’s email inbox once or twice a week.
“But when something is going crazy on 347, I’ll check in more often, or I’ll post a link to the website thread that’s going on,” he said.
Singleton has learned what’s on the minds of 347 commuters in Maricopa.
“A lot of them are, ‘Please, fix it now.’ I would say that’s the bulk of the majority,” he said.
He said he works from home, so he does not routinely commute on 347. But regardless, he said he has experienced some of the worst of it.
“I was once stuck in traffic for two hours,” he recalled.
One of the worst things he said he read about people traveling to Maricopa comes from relatives of Maricopa residents.
“I couldn’t make it through to my kids because I was stuck on 347,” is perhaps the saddest message he has read.
“That really hits home for people,” he said. “That seems to drive the point.”