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Traffic

The Arizona Department of Transportation will be carrying out overnight closures of three intersections in Maricopa this week. These will be full closures of each intersection during the following times:

Hathaway Avenue and SR 347 Intersection – The closure will be from 9 p.m. Wednesday to 5 a.m. Thursday.

  • Detour for southbound SR 347 traffic: Drive west on Edison Road to Wilson Avenue. Travel south on Wilson Avenue to Garvey Road, and then proceed eastbound on Garvey Road to re-enter southbound SR 347.
  • Detour for northbound SR 347 traffic: Drive west on Garvey Avenue to Wilson Avenue. Travel north on Wilson Avenue to Edison Road, and then proceed eastbound on Edison Road to re-enter northbound SR 347.

Honeycutt Road and Plainview Street intersection – The closure will also be from 9 p.m. Wednesday to 5 a.m. Thursday.

  • Detour: Use Maricopa Groves Parkway to access Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway (MCGH).

Alterra Parkway and SR 347 intersection – The closure will be from 9 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. Friday.

  • Detour for southbound SR 347 traffic: From SR 347, drive southeast on MCGH to Porter Road. Travel south on Porter Road to Farrell Road, and then use westbound Farrell Road to re-connect to SR 347.
  • Detour for northbound SR 347 traffic: Drive east on Farrell Road to Porter Road. Travel north on Porter Road to access SR 347 from MCGH.

Schedules are subject to change based on weather and other unforeseen factors.

Head to www.OverpassTracker.com for an overview of the project, frequent updates on traffic impacts, project timelines, maps and videos of what the project will look like when complete. The City of Maricopa has also established a 24/7 Hotline for you to call and get answers to more specific questions or concerns at 520-316-6910.

Maricopa hosted a kickoff meeting to find solutions to SR 347 traffic. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

With bumper-to-bumper traffic and frequent collisions on State Route 347 making it the hottest topic for Maricopans, there are plans afoot to study improvement alternatives to the roadway in both Pinal and Maricopa counties.

Monday, representatives of the City of Maricopa met three hours with counterparts from Pinal County, Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG), Federal Highway Administration and Wilson & Company to kickoff the studies.

“This study is just so important to this area,” said Charon Hill, MAG project manager.

Amy Moran, senior project manager for Wilson & Company, which has completed transportation studies for the City of Maricopa, said the purpose of the studies is to develop alternatives and evaluate strategies.

Alternatives named by residents include adding lanes and building overpasses. Ken Smith of HDR said the current realities of SR 347 will stymie economic growth in the area.

Andy Smith, general manager of Pinal Regional Transportation Authority, updated the group on the current lawsuit aimed at the funding of voter-approved improvements. The Goldwater Institute sued the Arizona Department of Revenue, Pinal County and PRTA on behalf of the Arizona Restaurant Association over Prop 417, which passed in 2017 as a sales tax to fund transportation projects.

Though the Arizona Tax Court ruled in favor of the ARA, the PRTA has submitted its paperwork to the Arizona Court of Appeals and is awaiting response from the Goldwater Institute.

Meanwhile, the county is still allowed to collect the tax, which has brought in about $13.6 million. Smith said that was within $100,000 of expectations.

Moran said the new studies are meant to help build consensus on SR 347 decisions.

“We recognize there have been a ton of studies done on this corridor,” she said.

However, two invitees not attending the kickoff were the Gila River and Ak-Chin communities. Hill said she would make new efforts to get them involved in future meetings.

That includes the next gathering, planned as a corridor vision workshop in April.

Concerns voiced at Monday’s session included safety issues, future costs and maintenance, failure to align with what stakeholders and the public want, building to standard, educating the public, how long improvement will take to create and how long they will last.

Carlos Lopez of ADOT noted activity on the proposed Interstate 11 is also expected in April with a draft environmental impact statement. David Maestas, transportation manager for the City of Maricopa, explained meetings on I-11 had been delayed until now by the government shutdown.

Andy Smith said it was important to remember the possible impact on SR 347 of any changes to other corridors, whether it is Interstate 10 and its access roads or future roadways like I-11, which is expected to take southern Arizona to the west side of the Valley and up to Las Vegas.

 

Stop signs will be placed at the intersection of Edison Road and Butterfield Parkway on Thursday at 6 a.m. to improve the safety of the surrounding communities.

Currently, there is only a stop sign for eastbound traffic entering Butterfield Parkway. The new configuration will force traffic to stop in all directions. It is expected to significantly increase safety. The stop signs are being inserted to help slow down traffic and allow for easier traffic merging through the intersection.

This intersection has seen an increase in traffic due to the closure of Honeycutt Road as part of the State Route 347 Overpass Project.

A customer fuels his car at Circle K north in Maricopa. Photo by Jim Headley

A number of people who purchased gasoline at Circle K’s Smith-Enke Road and John Wayne Parkway location in Maricopa experienced serious damage to their vehicles.

Michelle Schaefer of Maricopa said she purchased gas at Circle K late Friday afternoon.

“I put in about $20 worth of gas in on the middle grade of pump six – the 89 (octane) grade,” Schaefer said. “I proceeded to go home. I live about two miles from Circle K. I had no issues. I parked the car and the next morning I went out to the vehicle and started having issues. It started kind of funny. It was sputtering, and it wouldn’t accelerate correctly. It was almost like I was running out of gas.”

Schaefer said she was going to work. It is six miles from her house to her office.

“I could barely make it. I was going 10 mph and couldn’t accelerate,” Schaefer said. “I was finally able to make it to the parking lot.”

She called for a tow truck and had her car taken to Camelback Volkswagen in Phoenix.

“The tow truck driver from Knight Towing came to my office on Saturday about 4:30 or 5 in the evening,” Schaefer said. “He asked, ‘Did you happen to get gas at Circle K?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I did, why do you ask?’ He said I was the 12th car he had towed in the last day (and) they all got gas at Circle K.”

The driver said he thought there was an issue with the gasoline from Circle K, according to Schaefer.

She made a post on Facebook about her issues with the gasoline, and others in the city reacted quickly as they were having gasoline problems too. More than a dozen reported their vehicles stopped.

“It was pretty apparent that there was a huge issue,” she said. “There were pictures of people’s gas that they had to have siphoned out of their tanks that looked like rainwater.”

Schaefer said her car was in the shop over the weekend at the dealership. She called them early Monday and advised them about the suspected gasoline problem.

Camelback Volkswagen wrote to Schaefer, “We have a sample of your fuel. It is more rainwater than fuel. You are definitely going to want to go after the gas station.”

Schaefer said repairing the car was estimated by Camelback to cost $1,303. The estimate covered draining the tank and lines, replacing the fuel pump, fuel filter and spark plugs, and labor.

Schaefer said she is the sole provider for her family of six. Without a car, she’s had to rely on taxis and Lyft drivers.

“I have experienced missed hours of work. It is impacting my life in a huge way and I’m very frustrated,” Schaefer said. “I really hope Circle K does the right thing and takes care of it. I don’t have that kind of money lying around.”

Schaefer said she called the Circle K Arizona Division offices and filed a complaint.

“They said on the phone they did have an issue with that store,” she said, adding they would take her information down and forwarded it to the correct person.

Schaefer said as of Monday afternoon she had yet to speak with “the correct person” with Circle K. She was told that someone would contact her within 24 hours.

“I’m hoping that because they are admitting that they have an issue, that they are going to take care of it. At this point, I really don’t know,” she said.

Donna Humphrey, spokesperson for Circle K’s Arizona Division offices in Phoenix, had this advice for affected customers.

A traffic collision is blocking lanes in both directions on SR 347 near Riggs Road. ADOT

Two collisions on State Route 347 are causing traffic tie-ups.

Maricopa Police Department is reporting a “major crash” near the intersection of SR 347 and Lakeview Drive. The northbound lanes were blocked, and traffic became gridlocked at the south Cobblestone light and the Smith-Enke Road light. Maricopa Fire/Medical also responded. Though the scene is clearing, traffic remains backed up.

A collision in the southbound lanes of SR 347 north of the Riggs Road light has both northbound and southbound down to one lane. Gila River and Sun Lakes first responders are on scene. According to the Department of Public Safety, several people are being transported to Banner Desert Hospital with non life-threatening injuries.

ADOT

 

A three-vehicle collision injured motorists and stopped traffic on Smith-Enke Road Tuesday night.

None of the injuries was life-threatening.

The collision occurred after 8 p.m. between the intersections of Porter Road and DR Horton Drive. One vehicle reportedly swerved into oncoming traffic.

A second traffic incident occurred around the same time at the intersection of John Wayne Parkway and Edison Road when a vehicle went into a ditch. No injuries were reported.

Intestate 10 near Casa Blanca exchange.

 

A newly approved study will examine potential capacity and other upgrades to Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Casa Grande.

The study will be led by the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG), in partnership with Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) and Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT). The I-10 evaluation is expected to take about 18 months to complete, including an expected cost and phasing strategy.

Recently, the Gila River Indian Community Council agreed to participate in the study, which will establish an overall master plan for the corridor.

“The Gila River Indian Community is very appreciative of MAG for spearheading this effort, and we look forward to being part of the team that completes this study,” said GRIC Gov. Stephen R. Lewis. “The Community believes this study will help ensure the safety of the Community’s members and residents of the surrounding municipalities as they travel the I-10 corridor and promote development both on and off the Gila River Indian Reservation.”

The goal is to identify major elements that will need to be improved or replaced and determine how to provide the necessary capacity to meet current and future travel demand. The bridge across the Gila River and the interchange at Casa Blanca Road are two examples of existing structures that may have to be replaced.

“As ADOT has made significant investments through the years to increase I-10 capacity between the state’s two largest metropolitan areas, our plans for the 23 miles across the Gila River Indian Community have always recognized the sovereign tribal authority over this area,” said ADOT Director John Halikowski.

MAG has allocated about $65.5 million for improvements to the portion of I-10 in Maricopa County.

The I-10 study will be coordinated with a study being conducted by MAG in partnership with GRIC for State Route 347, which connects the City of Maricopa to I-10 across the Gila River Indian Community. MAG serves the metropolitan Phoenix area, including the City of Maricopa.

MAG Chair Gail Barney, mayor of Queen Creek, said GRIC input would be an important part of the I-10 study. The economic development activities being pursued by the Wild Horse Pass Development Authority in the northern section of GRIC will be considered in the study.

 

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ADOT

Drivers who use State Route 347 should plan for an overnight lane closure as Arizona Department of Transportation crews perform pavement-preservation work.

Northbound SR 347 will be narrowed to one lane between Riggs Road and Interstate 10 from 9 p.m. Sept. 13 to 5 a.m. Sept. 14.

ADOT will maintain one lane of travel northbound on SR 347, but delays are possible. Drivers should slow down and use caution around crews and equipment.

Schedules are subject to change based on weather and other unforeseen factors. For more information, please call the ADOT Project Information Line at 855-712-8530 or email Projects@azdot.gov.

ADOT photo

Department of Public Safety is investigating the cause of a five-vehicle collision that claimed the lives of a Maricopa woman and two children Wednesday.

The fiery crash occurred at approximately 9:52 a.m. in the westbound lanes of Interstate 10 between Wild Horse Pass Boulevard and Queen Creek Road.

Kim Frankel, 46, who had been a long-time teacher at Maricopa Unified School District, and her two young passengers, described as infants by DPS, were declared deceased at the scene.

The roadside tragedy was initiated in the eastbound lanes.

A 41-year-old commercial tractor-trailer driver from Mesa was traveling east on I-10 when he veered sharply left for an unknown reason. The tractor trailer struck a Chevy Tahoe, sending both vehicles through the median and over the cable barriers into westbound traffic.

Three vehicles, including the Toyota van driven by Frankel, were struck by the tractor-trailer rig.

Frankel’s van and the tractor trailer reportedly burst into flames after the crash, according to DPS. The driver of the tractor trailer sustained injuries and was transported to the hospital.

Two adults and two juvenile passengers in other vehicles were also transported to nearby hospitals for injuries.

The fatal crash shutdown the major artery into Phoenix for the entire day. Westbound lanes reopened around 6:45 p.m. that evening.

The DPS investigation is still ongoing.

https://www.gofundme.com/frankel-family-support

ADOT photo

Troopers with the Arizona Department of Safety are investigating the cause of a one-vehicle accident on State Route 347 Tuesday morning.

The rollover crash reportedly occurred Aug. 28 at approximately 8:38 a.m. about a half-mile south of Casa Blanca Road.

“Preliminary information is the female driver of a passenger vehicle lost control of the vehicle, which rolled over and into a fence,” said DPS spokesman Quentin Mehr.

Emergency responders transported the driver to Chandler Regional Hospital. The extent of her injuries is unknown at this time.

Traffic in the area is slowed, but no lane closures are reported.

 

 

Photo by Mason Callejas

At least one person was injured in a collision Thursday at the intersection of Porter Road and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

A PT Cruiser and a pickup truck were involved in the incident, which caused temporary lane closures. A woman was described as having lacerations from broken glass.

MPD is directing traffic at the location while investigating. The incident occurred around noon.

Water is over the road at both crossings on Rancho El Dorado Parkway.

Maricopa Police Department has closed both wash crossings on Rancho El Dorado Parkway due to water on the road.

Tucson and other communities south of the Maricopa area continue to have rain and flood warnings. That water is expected to flow north through the Santa Rosa Wash.

There is a flash flood watch in place until 8 p.m. for Pima County and southern and western Pinal County.

InMaricopa photo

Danger on the road rose last year in Maricopa, according to a state report published Tuesday.

The 2017 Crash Facts for the State of Arizona, an annual summary prepared by the Arizona Department of Transportation, showed vehicle accidents increased nearly 5 percent within city limits from the year before.

There were 298 automobile accidents reported in Maricopa in 2017 – earning the city a third-place rank in Pinal County for the highest number of crashes behind Casa Grande (761) and Apache Junction (456).

Maricopa placed second in the county in the number of alcohol-related crashes last year.

The city experienced 25 accidents that involved alcohol, up from 11 crashes in 2016. Casa Grande again led the category with 26 crashes; Apache Junction followed Maricopa with 21.

In 2017, people injured from alcohol related crashes rose by one (from 9 people the year before to 10).

There were zero crash fatalities attributed to alcohol last year. One death was caused by an alcohol-related crash in 2016.

Maricopa placed third in the number of injury accidents (87), number of property damage only crashes (210), and the number of persons injured in accidents (117). Casa Grande and Apache Junction preceded Maricopa respectively in rank in each of those categories in 2017.

A positive statistic reported in the data showed auto fatalities lowered from the year before.

The number of people killed in Maricopa auto accidents reportedly decreased from three deaths in 2016 to one fatality last year, according to the report.

The statewide report used data compiled from Arizona Traffic Crash Reports that are submitted to ADOT by state, county, city, tribal and other law enforcement agencies, according to the report.

Unincorporated area statistics are not broken down in the summary. View the report here.

Pinal County experienced nearly 4,000 traffic accidents last year – No. 3 in the state behind Maricopa County (93,596) and Pima County (11,707).

In 2017, 1,000 people were killed on roadways statewide.

 

ADOT

Pinal County residents have been paying an extra half-cent retail sales tax since April to fund future transportation projects.

Wednesday, a Maricopa County Superior Court Tax Court judge said that violates state law. That puts the breaks on plans to widen State Route 347, at least for the moment.

Now the battle may be fought inside the Arizona Court of Appeals.

Voters narrowly approved Prop 417 in November, the funding mechanism of the Pinal County Regional Transportation Authority’s Prop 416 that would provide a 20-year plan to create and improve roads. That plan seeks to add lanes to SR 347.

Phoenix-based conservative thinktank The Goldwater Institute filed suit in December, challenging the tax’s legality in the case Harold Vangilder, et al. v. Arizona Department of Revenue, et al. Goldwater later motioned the court to delay the collection of the tax.

Judge Christopher Whitten denied the request in March and the tax was implemented April 1. Those funds are held in escrow until the conclusion of the case.

Aug. 2, Whitten ruled the county-wide tax did not coincide with statute as it too narrowly targets a tax on retail and not on all sales tax categories, according to court documents.

The Goldwater Institute applauded Whitten’s most recent decision in a press release published to its website the day of the ruling.

“Thanks to the Court’s decision, Pinal County taxpayers are the real winners today,” Goldwater Institute Vice President for Litigation Timothy Sandefur said. “Had this sales tax gone forward, the damage to taxpayers’ wallets and to economic opportunity in Pinal County would have been immense.”

The Institute claimed the monies collected since April will have to be refunded by the county.

A statement on the Pinal RTA website challenged the judge’s ruling and argued voters knew in November the tax applies to all classifications and not just retail sales. Whitten said the wording of Prop 417 was “insufficient” to establish that.

Pinal RTA indicated the war over the funding may not be over.

“…We disagree with Judge Whitten’s ruling and will consult with outside counsel regarding an appeal to the State Court of Appeals,” according to the Pinal RTA statement.

“I’m disappointed with the ruling, but confident we will win on appeal,” Pinal County Supervisor Anthony Smith said. “The sooner we get this done, the sooner we reduce accidents, save lives and build for the future.”

Requests for comments from Pinal RTA General Manager Andy Smith, Pinal County spokesman Joe Pyritz, Pinal RTA Citizens Advisory Committee Member Tena Dugan, and Mayor Christian Price, who is a Pinal RTA Board Member, were not immediately returned.


This story has been updated to include remarks from Anthony Smith.

ADOT

Drivers on John Wayne Parkway should allow extra travel time this weekend while pavement repairs are made. Arizona Department of Transportation will be making repairs that require narrowing the roadway to one lane in each direction.

The following restrictions are in place between Edison and Smith-Enke roads this weekend:

  • SR 347 will be narrowed to one lane in each direction from at 9 p.m. Aug. 3 to 7 p.m. Aug. 5.
  • Work will occur in the right lane from 9 p.m. Aug. 3 to 7 p.m. Aug. 4.
  • Work will occur in the left lane from 7 p.m. Aug. 4 to 7 p.m. Aug. 5.

Crews are scheduled to mill out and replace the pavement in the 2-mile work zone. Schedules are subject to change based on weather and unforeseen factors. ADOT will maintain access to businesses while work is underway.

Farrell Road will be closed for reconstruction starting Monday, July 9, and re-opened to traffic Wednesday, July 18. This road segment begins just east of Palo Rojo Road, in the Palo Brea subdivision and ends just west of Porter Road. Drivers using this route should consider using State Route 347 and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway or Peters-Nall and White-Parker Roads as alternate routes.

Due to strong interest of Maricopa residents, the Public Meeting for the Pinal County Strategic Transportation Safety Plan will be extended to 4:30–7 p.m., July 12 in council chambers at City Hall.

Take survey here

This is an ongoing study effort that will produce a Pinal County Strategic Transportation Safety Plan.

Pinal County is divided between two Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), which are: Maricopa Association of Governments and Sun Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization, and one Council Of Governments (Central Arizona Governments) All three planning agencies have completed Strategic Transportation Safety Plans (STSP) for their respective planning areas. Pinal County is now developing a STSP that would combine relevant recommendations from all three safety plans and also meet current federal requirements for the Pinal County planning area. A cohesive plan for the County will help fill any gaps that may exist in the existing plans, such as the identification of specific regional safety projects for the Pinal County communities of City of Maricopa, Gila River Indian Community, Ak Chin Indian Community, Town of Florence, San Tan Valley, City of Apache Junction and unincorporated areas in Pinal County.

The Pinal County STSP will address the necessary steps and elements, from a regional transportation planning perspective, to reduce the risk of death and serious injury to all transportation users in Pinal County. The Sun Corridor MPO, in partnership with the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) and Central Arizona Governments (CAG) is funding this Strategic Transportation Safety Plan for Pinal County utilizing Local Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) funding from all three planning agencies. This project will develop a customized regional plan for Pinal County in order to address the issues and needs for Pinal County and its transportation users.

The Pinal County STSP will be developed in close coordination with Arizona’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP). This will ensure that federal requirements are met, statewide/local consistency is prevalent, and unique regional needs are addressed.

The primary outcome for the Pinal County STSP project will include the following:
Safety System Performance
Network Screening Methodologies for Prioritization of Transportation Safety Needs
Identification and Analyzation of Available Resources for a Transportation Safety Perspective
Regional Vision and Goals for Transportation Safety
Emphasis Areas, Goals, and Performance Measures
Transportation Safety Strategies
A Strategy to Improve Safety Project Development Process
Implementation Plan
Identification and Prioritization of Candidate Transportation Safety Projects
Benefit/Cost Ratio Tabulation
Pinal County STSP – Combining the Pinal County Portions of the MAG, CAG, and SCMPO Safety Plans into one Cohesive Document for Pinal County

For additional information, please visit the Sun Corridor at scmpo.org/pcstsp

Photo by Brooke Cook

Wild horses temporarily slowed the commute of morning commuters on State Route 347 Thursday.

At least two horses breached the fenced boundary that separates the Gila River herd from the busy roadway, according to witnesses.

Brooke Cook was heading north when she saw the horses crossing the road around 7 a.m. about a half mile south of Riggs Road.

“Traffic was calm, we just patiently waited for them to cross,” Cook said. “It was peaceful almost.”

Another motorist reported seeing a horse on the southbound side of the Gila River Bridge about a half-hour after Cook’s sighting.

A worker was reportedly cutting the fence to help the horse back to safety.

ADOT

 

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.

PinalRTA.org


This story appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.

The eastbound lane of Maricopa/Casa Grande Highway just east of SR 347 will be closed Oct. 17-19 from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. each night. Traffic will be shifted to the center lane. The lane closure is due to utility relocation in preparation for the SR 347 Overpass.

Head to www.OverpassTracker.com for an overview of the project, frequent updates on traffic impacts, project timelines, maps and videos of what the project will look like when complete. The City of Maricopa has also established a 24/7 Hotline for you to call and get answers to more specific questions or concerns at 520-316-6910.

Little has changed in the commuter traffic on State 347 of 10 years ago (left) and today.

Pinal County residents will have the opportunity to vote in November to approve a sales tax funding infrastructure improvements across the county.

For Maricopa, it could mean several direct improvements including additional lanes on major roads, including State Route 347, the securing of a right-of-way for the future Interstate 11 corridor, and public transportation expansion.

Proposition 417 would fund these projects with a half-cent county transportation excise (sales) tax. The revenue from Prop 417 would provide funding to the updated Regional Transportation Plan – Proposition 416 – which voters will also have the chance to approve in November.

The first phase of the transportation plan includes measures to widen State Route 347 to six lanes north of Maricopa and to create an “East-West Corridor” by widening Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and Val Vista Road to four lanes.

Revenue from Prop 417, which officials are estimating to be $641 million over its 20-year lifespan, will be exacted on any business transaction involving the sale of “tangible personal property” in Pinal County.

There is, however, a limitation built into the tax.

The 0.5 percent tax would only be applied to the first $10,000 of income from any given item.

For example, if you purchase a car for $12,000, $2,000 of that would not be subject to the tax since a vehicle is considered a singular item. If you purchase another vehicle for $10,000 and then add $2,000 worth of accessories all $12,000 would be subject to the tax since additions are typically considered separate items.

Maricopa City Councilmember Nancy Smith said she rarely supports tax increases, but she will consider it if it meets three criteria: A rigid timeline, voter approval and specified purpose.

Smith said she supports both Propositions 416 and 417.

“I can’t help but say we have to stand up and help ourselves and apply this half-cent tax, which is equivalent to $88 per family per year,” Smith said.

Pinal County Public Works Director Andrew Smith said it’s important to note these issues will be on a special mail-in ballot only. Last year, he said, when the issue was first poised to be on the ballot, there was some concern with the length of the ballot given the nature of the general election and all the other propositions it contained.

Supporters are working against a “no new taxes” mindset among several Maricopans as well as cynicism about the cooperation of Maricopa County and Gila River Indian Community in widening SR 347 all the way to I-10.

Andrew Smith said he appreciates the concerns specific communities have about the tax and transportation plan and how it affects them directly. However, they should have a macro view of this plan, which will improve the quality of life for everyone who does business, has a job, owns property or lives in Pinal County.

“Try and look at it as a resident of Pinal County,” Andrew Smith said.  “How do you get around? You do go to Maricopa County, you do go to Pima county, so this establishes a regional plan that will enhance the whole county and improve economic development.”

On a much longer timeline, the transportation plan is further considering the potential path of Interstate 11, which Pinal County hopes to bring into its boundaries, just west of Maricopa. Revenue from the tax will help preserve county rights-of-way in the area that could eventually give Maricopa direct access to the major highway.

“What I like about that being on the RTA is that it says our county is looking to influence I-11 and where it comes,” Nancy Smith said. “If we don’t have the money to secure the purchase of right-of way, then our chances become much slimmer at becoming part of that road, so I love that we’re planning ahead in that aspect.”

The Regional Transportation Plan also includes measures to improve public transportation by funding rapid transit services and expanding current transit services such as Park and Ride, Dial-A-Ride and Maricopa’s COMET.

Eligible voters should automatically receive ballots by mail. Voters can confirm they are on the mailing list by calling  the Pinal County Elections Office at 520-866-7550.

http://cagaz.org/RTA/documents/PRTA_Brochure_ReadOnly.pdf


This story appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.

State Troopers are at it again.

The Department of Public Safety plans to conduct a special detail on Wednesday targeting commercial vehicles on State Route 347 and Highway 84. According to Sgt. Steven Sekrecki, the detail will last from 7 a.m. to noon.

Sekrecki said DPS has received complaints about the behavior of commercial truck drivers in Maricopa and Stanfield, including dairy and cattle trucks. He said though the detail is focused on commercial vehicles, the participating law enforcement officers will stop any vehicle committing violations.

Maricopa Police Department and Arizona Department of Transportation are also participating.

DPS has been running special traffic details around Maricopa during the past year in an effort to slow down drivers. Sekrecki has said the goal is not arrests but compliance.

The view north of John Wayne Parkway from Edison Road camera installed by ADOT.

Cameras the Arizona Department of Transportation uses to monitor State Route 347 traffic between the city of Maricopa and Interstate 10 now allow drivers to view conditions themselves via az511.gov.

Nine high-definition cameras mounted on traffic signals are available through the Arizona Traveler Information site, showing intersections from Riggs Road to the north to Farrell Road to the south.

“ADOT is always looking to improve traffic flow and safety,” ADOT traffic engineer Mark Poppe said. “Giving everyone access to the Maricopa cameras allows motorists to see traffic along SR 347 firsthand and make more-informed travel decisions.”

The SR 347 intersections are Riggs Road, Gravel Pit, Casa Blanca Road, Cobblestone North, Edison Road, Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway, Honeycutt Avenue, Alterra Parkway and Farrell Road. The Honeycutt Avenue camera currently shows on the map incorrectly located at Honeycutt Road.

In 2016, ADOT installed a wireless communication system that monitors conditions on SR 347 and allows technicians in Phoenix to adjust signal timing accordingly. The system includes a series of infrared and video cameras, and the latter are now available to the public online.

Besides showing road conditions, traffic cameras are used to quickly spot crashes, allowing first responders to respond faster and allocate appropriate resources. By doing this, secondary crashes are reduced, along with traffic congestion.

ADOT maintains more than 300 traffic cameras across the state.

SR 347 at Casa Blance
SR 347 at gravel pit

A vehicle struck the front tire of a child’s bicycle Thursday morning as she attempted to peddle through a cross walk on her way to school at Leading Edge Academy, police said.

Ricky Alvarado, spokesman for the Maricopa Police Department, said the 12-year-old girl was thrown to the ground in the collision, but was not injured.

Maricopa Fire/Medical cleared the girl of injuries, and a call was made to her parents, Alvarado said.

Prior to the incident, Alvarado said MPD was working a minor vehicle accident at the intersection, causing traffic to back up in the area of Porter Road near Sequoia Pathway Academy.

As the girl approached a crosswalk near Sequoia Pathway Academy, Alvarado said a “driver waved her through, but wasn’t looking at traffic coming in the opposite direction.”

“The little girl got her bike to go across when there was another car coming in the opposite direction that couldn’t see because traffic was backed up there,” Alvarado said.

No citations were issued in the accident, in part because Alvarado said the girl rode her bicycle through the crosswalk, when bicyclists are required to walk their bikes through a crossing.

“Since technically she shouldn’t have been riding her bike across, she should have been pushing it across the street, there was no prosecution done on anybody or any violations since nobody was injured,” Alvarado said.

The driver involved in the collision was not impaired, Alvarado said. 

Photo by Penelope Cooper

The trailer of a semi-truck rig caught fire just south of Riggs Road on State Route 347 Thursday morning.

Though the rig itself did not initially block southbound traffic, law enforcement re-routed cars to eastbound Riggs Road in order for Gila River Fire Department and Sun Lakes Fire Department to respond to the scene and extinguish the blaze.

The contents of the trailer were destroyed.

Photo by Penelope Cooper

 

The Maricopa Police Department has forwarded charges against the drivers involved in a highly-publicized, road-rage incident that occurred Monday on John Wayne Parkway and Smith-Enke Road.

The charges against motorists Holden Elsea and James Kingery include disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace, said MPD Spokesman Ricardo Alvardo.

“The incident resulted in Elsea being struck in the face by Kingery and his driver-side window broken to his vehicle,” Alvarado said. “Elsea then damaged Kingery’s vehicle by striking the rear window with a tire iron.”

The incident was recorded on a cell phone and later posted to social media.

Alvarado said MPD decided to forward charges based on the facts and circumstances of the case “and after reviewing video of the incident.”

The disorderly conduct charges resulted from “engaging in fighting or seriously disruptive behavior which resulted in obstructing the flow of traffic on a highway,” Alvarado said.

MPD said the second charges were brought about after the men allegedly “disturb(ed) the peace of several citizens, who called and reported the incident.”

Alvarado said both men are aware of the pending charges against them.

The charges will be forwarded to the City Prosecutor’s Office for review and charging on behalf of the state of Arizona, Alvarado said.

“MPD wants to remind the motoring public, driving can be dangerous and motorists should use patience and their better judgement while driving. This case proves actions like this will not be tolerated and could lead to serious charges or worse yet, a serious accident and harm to other motorists,” Alvarado said.

 What appears to be an act of road rage was caught on camera Monday afternoon in Maricopa.

Maricopa resident Nathan Corp filmed the incident on his phone around 4 p.m. at the intersection of Smith-Enke Road and John Wayne Parkway.

“As I was pulling up to where they were stopped, the gentleman in the sedan came to a full stop, jumped out of his car, punched out the window of the SUV and started to punch the driver in the face,” Corp said.

Corp then shared the footage on social media.

The video shows the driver of a dark sedan get back into his vehicle which is parked in the left-hand turn lane of the intersection. The driver of the white SUV proceeds to exit his car, parked adjacently, and strikes the back glass of the sedan, shattering it.

Following the damage, both drivers re-enter their vehicles and head south on John Wayne Parkway.

“I don’t know what brought them to that point though. I didn’t see them driving recklessly or anything like that,” Corp said.

 Maricopa Police Department Spokesman Ricardo Alvarado said MPD is currently responding to the case.

“It was just reported to us so I have no information as of yet,” Alvarado said.

 

A utility company is being blamed for the traffic tie-ups in Maricopa this week.

While Arizona Department of Transportation has been working nights around the intersection of State Route 347 and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway in preparation for the overpass, some daytime work has caused a logjam for northbound drivers.

Southwest Gas is relocating a gas line in the area, also in preparation for the overpass.

“They received a permit for the work but did not have an approved traffic control plan,” ADOT spokesman Tom Herrmann said. “The city stopped the work until a traffic control plan is approved and the city has a chance to communicate that to the community.”

Northbound SR 347 was narrowed to one lane, though both southbound lanes were open. Even with a new traffic plan, Hermann said there will still likely be traffic issues during the day.

The ongoing closure of Farrell Road at Porter Road further exacerbated the problem, lengthening the alternate routes by several miles.

Mayor Christian Price stated in Facebook postings said the city had “all over” ADOT and SWG, “but again our power is pretty limited when it’s just in their hands and we’re not updated.”

When traffic is congested at SR 347 and MCG Highway and eastbound Farrell is closed, the long alternatives for northbound traffic are to drive south to Peters and Nall Road, east to White and Parker Road, and north to MCG Highway, or to drive west on Farrell Road to Ralston Road, north to State Route 238 and east to John Wayne Parkway.