The Goldwater Institute’s lawsuit against the Pinal Regional Transportation Authority Plan (RTA) is in the hands of a judge as of May 21, and a ruling is expected at the end of June or the beginning of July.
Whatever the outcome, RTA officials are moving forward with preparations to put the voter-approved project in motion. The project includes additional lanes on State Route 347. The half-cent sales tax to pay for the RTA went into effect April 1.
Andy Smith, RTA general manager, said the organization has been working with Maricopa and Casa Grande to seek grant opportunities for the east-west corridor. That four-lane, 21-mile project connecting Maricopa with Interstate 10 in Casa Grande was estimated in the election pamphlet to cost $67.2 million. That has now been refigured to $74 million.
The east-west corridor had been marked for Phase I but is now in Phase III (years 2029-33).
The widening of State Route 347 from Maricopa to the Maricopa County line has seen its estimated cost reduced from $28.8 million to $23 million. That work is slated for 2021-22, Phase I of the RTA.
Smith told the Pinal County Board of Supervisors the RTA is working with Maricopa Association of Governments and Gila Riva Indian Community.
“The RTA has pledged $100,000 to $150,000 to help facilitate funding” to help create a design concept report for SR 347 for the entire stretch from Maricopa to Interstate 10 in Maricopa County, he said, adding the City of Maricopa is part of the discussions as well.
He said the Department of Revenue is two months in arrears on its tax collections. The collections that started in April are held in escrow.
District 4 Supervisor Anthony Smith of Maricopa encouraged RTA officials to start moving as they await the ruling on the Goldwater case.
“Get as many things as shovel-ready as possible, especially the priority-one projects,” he said. “Because hopefully there will be a federal transportation bill that will come at some point or there will be grant opportunities.
“If we are prepared and we’ve got the engineering done and we’ve got maybe some of the right-of-way acquisition – and the more steps we have so that we’re truly shovel-ready – the more we’re going to get mileage out of the money that we put into this.”
Andy Smith said the RTA wants a representative of Arizona Department of Transportation on its board to help with more collaboration. Mayor Christian Price is on the board, Maricopa Public Works Director Bill Fay is on the technical Transportation Advisory Committee. Maricopa’s Tena Dugan and Terri Crain are members of the Citizen Transportation Advisory Committee, answering to the Board of Directors. Dugan chairs the committee.
The RTA includes 15 transportation improvement projects around the county.
This story appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.
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