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April 2017 Let's Keep Moving Transportation Update

MAG Transportation Policy Committee - Let's Keep Moving

In This Issue:

Mayor John Giles, City of Mesa
April 19, 2017, Meeting Summary

Message From the Chair

As the federal government and the new administration look to improve infrastructure nationwide, we had a significant discussion regarding major projects that could potentially compete for some specific funds, such as freight funding. The most recent federal transportation legislation, known as the FAST Act, prioritizes freight mobility as a key component of interstate travel. During our April meeting, we recommended approval of two major amendments to the Regional Transportation Plan that could significantly improve travel for both commuters and freight carriers.

The first amendment formally begins the process for putting the I-11 corridor into the funded portion of the 2040 Regional Transportation Plan for the first time. In 2008, the MAG Regional Council accepted the findings from the Hassayampa Valley Framework Study, which included illustrative projects such as freeway corridors in the far West Valley. Since that time, Congress has designated the Interstate 11 corridor between Nogales, Arizona and Reno, Nevada, through the Phoenix area. Our action in April recommends that MAG add the I-11 corridor from I-10 to US-93 in the West Valley to the MAG 2040 Regional Transportation Plan.

The second amendment also dealt with a major freeway corridor in the West Valley. The amendment includes two segments of the corridor to be put into the Plan as future freeways. The segments include the portion of the corridor from State Route 85 to Loop 303, and from the South Mountain Freeway Loop 202 to I-17.

Both of the major amendments received unanimous approval. Some may ask why, as an East Valley mayor, I would support two major projects in the West Valley. Because these corridors are essential to our regional future. I-11 will make vital connections to Mexico and eventually to Canada. State Route 30 will take a burden off of I-10, which will continue to see traffic volumes increase. I am proud of the efforts of the TPC to endorse these projects for the good of Arizona.

Mayor John Giles
TPC Chair

TPC Meeting Summary

Major Amendment to Regional Transportation Plan Includes I-11 Segment

The TPC moved forward a proposal regarding a West Valley segment of Interstate 11, the Congress-designated corridor between Reno, Nevada, and Nogales, Arizona. Members recommended that the segment between Interstate 10 to US-93 in the West Valley move from “unfunded” to “funded” status. This helps address the need to provide better connections between major population centers, stimulating community and economic development opportunities. By incorporating this segment of Interstate 11 into the Regional Transportation Plan, ADOT has the opportunity to initiate a Tier II Environmental Impact Statement study to locate the freeway centerline.

Staff noted that ADOT already has initiated a Tier I Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) study that will identify a wide corridor of roughly 2,000 feet, but it does not provide a freeway centerline, which would provide certainty in both public- and private-sector planning along the corridor. Current Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) policy does not allow the centerline to be identified unless a project level environmental study, such as a Tier II EIS, is completed. Based upon the fiscal projections of revenues identified in the MAG 2040 Regional Transportation Plan, currently in draft form, reasonable expectation of funding for the Interstate 11 segment can be identified. The TPC recommended approval of the major amendment.

Arizona State Route 30 Major Amendment

Committee members also recommended approval of another major amendment to add two more freeway segments to the Regional Transportation Plan: the Arizona State Route 30 (SR-30) corridor from State Route 85 (SR-85) to Loop 303 and from Loop 202/South Mountain Freeway to Interstate 17.

Recent freeway rebalancing studies have again demonstrated the need for a continuous freeway between SR-85 in Buckeye and Interstate 17 in Phoenix to improve travel time reliability, and provide congestion relief along Interstate 10 in the West Valley, this region's primary freight corridor.

Staff noted by incorporating these segments of SR-30 into the Regional Transportation Plan, ADOT has the opportunity to initiate the appropriate environmental studies to locate the freeway centerline, which again provides greater certainty for both public- and private-sector planning along the corridor. The TPC recommended approval of the amendment.

I-10/I-17 Corridor Master Plan Recommendations

The I-10/I-17 corridor is a critical element of the region’s transportation and its future viability will be key to economic activity and the region’s quality of life. The corridor is known as the “Spine” of the region’s transportation system, because more than 40 percent of freeway traffic uses a portion of it each day and all major Valley freeways feed into it. Committee members heard an update on the study team’s final recommendations from the project’s Management Partners, which include the Arizona Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, and MAG.

Along the I-10 segment, from the I-17 Split to the Loop 202 Pecos Stack, these recommendations include the reconstruction of the congested SR-143 traffic interchange and its approaches and departures near the US-60/Superstition Freeway junction. Master Plan recommendations along Interstate 17 include a reconstruction between the I-10 Split and 19th Avenue, improving eight traffic interchanges for higher capacity, and improving drainage/flood control.

Staff also provided results of the latest public outreach efforts on the Master Plan in January of 2017, noting that more than 680 comments were received from stakeholders.

Systems Management and Operations Study

TPC members heard an update on a MAG-sponsored study to develop a Systems Management and Operations (SM&O) Plan for the transportation network. MAG staff discussed how the SM&O Plan would help guide the region in making strategic investments needed to expand and support essential transportation technology/ITS infrastructure components, and provide resources essential for the efficient operation and management of the most critical components of the regional transportation system. The study has developed a new approach for funding future ITS/SM&O projects by categorizing them into four broad priority-based categories. It is anticipated that this approach would enable the region make strategic investments in SM&O that would be critical for supporting the regional economy.

To date, $145 million has been invested in traffic technology for the regional freeway system, which will cover 265 miles by 2020. On arterial streets, $50 million in regional investments, plus local funds, have helped upgrade more than 3,000 traffic signals, with more than half of them equipped to prioritize traffic lights to accommodate emergency vehicles. Among the priorities identified in the study is adding or enhancing subregional traffic management centers.

Mid-Phase Public Input Opportunity Report

Public input is critical to the transportation planning process. MAG conducts a four phase public involvement process, which provides members of the public the opportunity to comment on draft transportation plans and programs prior to MAG committee action, in accordance with federal law. Members of the TPC heard a summary of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Mid-Phase Input Opportunity report, which included input on the FY 2018-2022 Transportation Improvement Program, Draft FY 2017 Transit Program of Projects, Working Draft FY 2018 Transit Program of Projects, and the Draft 2040 Regional Transportation Plan.

Outreach included a public hearing on March 14, 2017, small group presentations, and feedback received via e-mail, telephone and website communication. Staff noted that one example of how the public can influence planning is the proposed bike/pedestrian bridge over Interstate 17 and Osborn Road. Opposition to the bridge resulted in moving the proposal out of the draft Regional Transportation Plan pending further analysis by the City of Phoenix. The Mid-Phase Input Opportunity began on February 28, 2017, and ended on March 30, 2017. A summary of all of the comments and staff responses to comments are provided in the Mid-Phase Input Opportunity Report.

*The MAG Offices are located at 302 N.1st Avenue, Phoenix. Meeting rooms are on the second floor. All meetings are subject to change.

Let's Keep Moving E-Update is a monthly electronic newsletter providing information about the Transportation Policy Committee and the implementation of the Regional Transportation Plan. For questions regarding this publication, or to be removed from the distribution list, contact Kelly Taft at (602) 254-6300, or via e-mail at ktaft@azmag.gov.

 

Maricopa Association of Governments | 302 North 1st Avenue, Suite 300 | Phoenix, Arizona 85003 | © 2017

 

Apr 19, 2017
 
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