Maricopa City Council put its money where its mouth is on Tuesday night for a safer State Route 347.
The council approved the transfer of $1 million from the City’s general fund to the Arizona Department of Transportation in a future year to support House Bill 2068, the $35 million appropriations bill that would get the ball rolling on construction of an overpass at Riggs Road and SR 347. The transfer will not take place until ADOT funds are allocated to complete the project.
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State Rep. Bret Roberts, who attended the council meeting, said the bill, which passed out of the Senate appropriations committee Tuesday by a 9-1 vote, is not a magic bullet, but only the beginning of a necessary number of solutions for traffic safety and congestion issues on the state highway.
“For the public, a lot of the time we get confused about this overpass. It’s not the end-all, be-all, fix-all kind of situation,” said Roberts, who represents Maricopa. “I chose this particular portion of the project in the overall 347 widening project because it’s the most problematic safety-wise, having approximately nine deaths in the past two years. We just had a serious accident there last weekend. We’re continuously dealing with that as everyone in Maricopa knows, so that’s the reason why I chose that first.”
Roberts indicated the entire SR 347 project, which will include the Riggs overpass, lane widening between Maricopa and Interstate 10 and a redesign of the Queen Creek Road interchange, would carry a total price tag of about $150 million.
The bill will next go to the Senate Rules Committee for consideration.
After the council meeting, Roberts took to Facebook to thank the City taking a financial stake in a safer highway.
“This will show the city has skin in the game,” Roberts wrote. “Now it should go into this year’s budget negotiations. This is an essential step for Maricopa and its future growth.
“Thank you all for your help and emails to other members in the legislature to help get this passed. Thank you Mayor Price & City staff. There is still work to be done but we’ve got some momentum.”