Plan drives toward November ballot
by Harold Christ, President/CEO Pinal Partnership
An innovative and comprehensive transportation plan for Pinal County will go to the voters after the Pinal County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to place the measure on the November 2017 ballot. The transportation package would raise the Pinal County sales tax by one-half of one cent for a series of new roads and freeways over the next 20 years.
The transportation package and ballot language had been previously approved by the Central Arizona Governments (CAG) Association, which voted to send it to the Pinal County Board of Supervisors.
The Pinal Regional Transportation Authority drew up the transportation plan to address a long list of concerns, including inadequate connections from I-10 to local roads and businesses, and the need to improve Pinal County’s existing north-south and east-west roadways, which don’t have the capacity to address current demands. The plan also seeks to reverse the trend of significant increases in fatal and serious vehicle crashes because of increased traffic demands. Furthermore, state and federal funding appears non-existent, with even state transportation officials saying they have a backlog of “800 years.”
If voters approve, the sales tax in Pinal County would be increased by half a cent, except on a single large ticket item, such as a vehicle or farm equipment, where after the first $10,000, the remaining amount owed would be exempt. This keeps Pinal County’s tax rate competitive with rates in Phoenix and Tucson. The cost to the average Pinal County homeowner would be about $7 per month.
The transportation plan is supported by Pinal Partnership, a coalition of private and public sector leaders. Vice Chairman Jackob Andersen said, “Pinal County can’t wait to solve its transportation challenges. Our long-term quality of life and economic vitality depend on addressing transportation needs before the next population boom, and before our current and ongoing economic development success hits gridlock.”
The transportation infrastructure plan includes the following:
State Route 24 Parkway
A five-mile, east-west, limited access four-lane parkway in San Tan with a median between State Route 24 at Meridian Road to the west, and the future alignment of the North-South Corridor to the east.
The new construction of a 36-mile, north-south, limited access four-lane parkway facility with a median between U.S. Highway 60 in the City of Apache Junction to the north, and the Kortsen Road/Kleck Road alignment located to the south, in the City of Coolidge.
State Route 347
The addition of two lanes along State Route 347 between the Pinal-Maricopa County line to the north, and the municipal boundary of the City of Maricopa to the south. The new construction of a north traveling lane and a south traveling lane along State Route 347 represents a total of 18 additional lane miles of construction.
Casa Grande Connector
Referred to as the Kortsen Road/Kleck Road alignment, the “Casa Grande Connector” project involves the widening of this facility from two lanes to four lanes, from Henness Road to the west, located in the City of Casa Grande, to the future alignment of the North-South Corridor Parkway to the east, located in the City of Coolidge. It will involve a 14-mile corridor, and represents a total of 28 additional lane miles of roadway construction.
A four-lane, 21-mile route connecting Maricopa to Casa Grande along the Val Vista Road alignment, providing yet another alternative and connection to I-10.
I-10 Traffic Interchange
The purchase of right of way, and the design and construction of a traffic interchange at Interstate 10, in the City of Casa Grande. This particular project involves the construction of a bridge across Interstate 10, as well as on and off-ramps to Kleck and Kortsen roads. This project will allow for the continuation of a crucial east-west corridor in central Pinal County.
The Selma Highway project calls for improvements to an existing two-lane roadway from Thornton Road to the west, located in the City of Casa Grande, to the future North-South Corridor alignment to the east, located near the City of Coolidge. It also includes approximately four miles of new construction over graded non-paved roadway segments, and a crossing over a drainage canal and railroad tracks at State Route 84.
The widening of Thornton Road from two lanes to four lanes from State Route 84 to the north, to Interstate 8 to the south. The widening of Thornton Road will involve a 3.5-mile linear corridor, and represents a total of seven additional lane miles of roadway construction.
Burris Road is an important “regional” economic development project in a high job growth area, and involves widening the roadway from two lanes to four lanes from State Route 84 to the north, to Alamo Road to the south, located in the City of Casa Grande. The widening of Burris Road will involve a 1.5-mile corridor, and represents a total of three miles of additional lane miles of roadway construction.
Improvements to the Montgomery Road Corridor from the Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway to the north, located in the City of Casa Grande, to Interstate 8 to the south. The project corridor is eight miles in length, and will call for the construction of approximately four miles of new roadway. The intent is to develop a connective, north-south, two-lane roadway facility that is fully improved.
New Road in Saddlebrooke
The new road, located in the southern Pinal County community of Saddlebrooke, is a one-mile- long, north-south, two-lane minor arterial roadway facility. The project scope involves the purchase of necessary right of way, design and construction.
Peters Road is another important “regional” economic development project in a future high job growth area, and involves widening the roadway from two lanes to four lanes from Burris Road to the west, to Thornton Road to the east, located in the City of Casa Grande. The widening of Peters Road will involve a one-mile linear corridor, and represents a total of two miles of additional lanes of roadway construction.
Right of Way Preservation
Right of way will be acquired as part of the Regional Transportation Plan to allow for the preservation of future high capacity transportation corridors. Right of way will be preserved for the remainder of the North-South Parkway Corridor from the Casa Grande Connector (Kortsen-Kleck roadway alignment) to the north, and Interstate 10 to the south. Also, right of way will be preserved for the West Pinal Freeway corridor, from the Pinal-Maricopa County line to the west, and Interstate 8 to the south.
Local Roadway Funding
The City of Eloy, and the towns of Kearny, Mammoth and Superior, located in the Copper Basin of eastern Pinal County, will each receive an amount of $300,000 per year of available taxes to be utilized on local roadway development.
Public Transportation Projects
The public transportation element of the Pinal RTA sets aside a $28,200,000 line item over a 20-year period for the construction of Park and Ride lots, and the provision of funding for countywide Dial-a-Ride services and transit operations. Priority will be given to providing matching funds for existing transit systems.
Pinal Partnership was created with a vision of uniting community growth efforts in Pinal County and to bring together all the people and ideas that will ultimately lead Pinal County to its full potential. Learn more at www.PinalPartnership.com.