September 20, 2017

MAG Transportation Policy Committee - Let's Keep Moving

Mayor Kenneth Weise, City of Avondale
September 20, 2017 Meeting Summary

Message From the Chair

Let's Keep Moving Message From the Chair Kenneth Weise

At our September meeting, I was keenly interested in the report on the MAG Freight Transportation Plan and those critical urban freight corridors designed to move freight safely and efficiently through neighborhoods. Often in the daily business of MAG, we think about the commute for residents, but how do we also accommodate the transportation of goods that are essential to the lives of families and our economy?

In the Southwest Valley, those urban freight corridors are important means to boosting economic development and businesses that rely on trucking. With children and schools interfacing with trucks on those key arterial streets, the need for safety becomes paramount. More and more often, trucks are having to park on streets. This can be because they are waiting for delivery appointments or because of the change in driver regulations, which mandate electronic tracking of hours and drivers must park when they have reached that limit. This can have a major impact on neighborhoods. We need to be proactive to keep the flow of goods moving effectively in ways that keep our community safe.

As I begin my term as chair of the TPC, I want to thank Mayor Giles for his leadership and many contributions to this important policy body. One of those initiatives involved prioritizing 37 projects in the rebalancing of the Regional Freeway and Highway Program, adding another $1.25 billion in transportation improvements. Staff gave an excellent overview of the status of these projects in the program, and how MAG is keeping its commitments to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) to move them forward. As both our population and our economy grow, we need to continue to look ahead to shape transportation facilities for the future.

I am honored to serve as the TPC Chair with other elected officials and business leaders committed to developing a regional, multimodal plan that will best serve the Valley's transportation needs. The TPC has seen many accomplishments over the past year, which are the result of the combined work of the TPC, staff, and the region working collaboratively. I am confident that the TPC will continue this tradition and the result will be one that makes the best possible use of taxpayer dollars for the benefit of all the residents of our region. I look forward to the year ahead.

Mayor Kenneth Weise
TPC Chair

TPC Meeting Summary

Resolution of Appreciation for Mayor John Giles

A resolution of appreciation was presented to Mesa Mayor John Giles for his dedicated service to the MAG region as Vice Chair and Chair of the Transportation Policy Committee. Among the many accomplishments noted were the completion of a number of Proposition 400 projects on Loop 303, Loop 202 and Loop 101, as well as a Performance Audit on the Regional Transportation Plan by the Arizona Auditor General that concluded no significant changes were warranted.

During his tenure, the TPC recommended approval of initiating two Major Amendments to the Regional Transportation Plan; adding the Interstate 11 corridor from Interstate 10 (I-10) to US-93 in the West Valley, and to add the Arizona State Route 30 (SR-30) corridor as a freeway facility from SR-85 to Loop 303 and from Loop 202/South Mountain to Interstate 17 (I-17). The TPC also recommended additional funding for extending the light rail project to Gilbert Road, and provided guidance on a number of transportation issues and studies, including the recommendations of the Interstate 10/Interstate 17 Corridor (the “Spine”) Master Plan.

The TPC unanimously adopted the resolution.

Update on the Draft MAG Freight Transportation Plan

As noted above, staff provided the Transportation Policy Committee with an update on the MAG Freight Transportation Plan, the federally-supported freight network to support businesses and communities and improve efficiencies for the Phoenix Metropolitan area. The project team and regional stakeholders are tasked with identifying and ranking the critical urban freight corridor for the MAG region and submitting the top 60 lane miles for federal approval.

MAG staff reported that the project team is evaluating the movement of goods through the region. The project team is identifying an arterial network that supports the critical connections from existing industry clusters to the region's interstates and highways. The focus is improving those arterial streets to keep things moving efficiently while keeping the community safe, which may involve improving crosswalks, moving bike lanes, and adjusting lanes impacted by commuter traffic. The network identifies 60 priority miles that will be heard by the Regional Council next month for approval and submission to the Federal Highway Administration.

Quarterly Status on the Implementation of the Regional Freeway and Highway Program

Members of the TPC received a status report on the implementation of the Regional Freeway and Highway Program. ADOT, with MAG assistance, continues work on the 37 projects in the rebalanced program approved by the Regional Council on June 28, 2017. MAG staff informed the committee that 18 of the 37 projects are underway, and noted ADOT and MAG staff meet monthly to refine delivery options and the scope of the projects.

Several projects were highlighted, including current construction on the Loop 303 from I-10 to Van Buren Street, targeted for opening in November of 2017, and on the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway, which is targeted for completion in December of 2019. Staff also mentioned eight other projects of note, including the diverging diamond traffic interchange at Happy Valley Road and I-17, which begins construction in June of 2018; adding lanes north of Anthem Way, also on I-17, with work scheduled to start in January of 2020, and the Loop 101 Price Freeway design-build project, which would add lanes from Baseline Road to the Loop 202/Santan Freeway, set to begin in January of 2019.

Also discussed was the continued high level of coordination with ADOT and the Federal Highway Administration to execute these projects. Staff raised awareness of the potential impact involving the “Red Letter” process on some projects, which requires MAG member agencies to notify ADOT of potential development activities in freeway alignments, including zoning applications and permits. The next quarterly update of the program to the TPC will be in January 2018.

Upgrade of MAG Regional Freeway System Lighting

Members of the Transportation Policy Committee heard from ADOT on a project to upgrade the lighting on Phoenix-area freeways. ADOT Executive Officer Floyd Roehrich presented the specifics of the plan, which include the conversion of 19,300 lights from high pressure sodium lighting to state-of-the-art Light-Emitting Diode (LED) technology. The project covers 3,300 LED lights in the Deck Park Tunnel on Interstate 10 in downtown Phoenix, 16,000 LED lights on the MAG regional freeway system, and adds remote monitoring and controls. The scope would not include tunnels and freeways outside of the metropolitan area, roadway lighting associated with traffic signals, and the lighting on cross streets.

In cooperation with MAG, ADOT issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) in August, 2017, for a developer to design, finance, operate and maintain the upgraded lighting system. It is anticipated the work would be completed over a two to three year period, with a 15-year maintenance period. At that time, the developer would be required to turn the system back to ADOT.

The total cost of the lighting upgrade would be $207 million over 18 years. The cost financed by the contractor is $141 million in present day value terms, giving them equity investment in the system. The contractor would be subject to penalties if the system does not meet performance requirements. Funding will come from a variety of sources: $12 million currently in the ADOT five-year program, possible Regional Area Road Fund (RARF), the program will be federal aid eligible, and expected savings from reduced energy consumption. ADOT would reduce its exposure to risks as a benefit of this public-private partnership, including its exposure to schedule and cost overruns during construction, energy consumption and performance over the life of the project, and potential claims due to poor lighting, especially in the Deck Park Tunnel.

Mr. Roehrich noted that the Deck Park Tunnel, constructed more than 20 years ago, is underlit and uses outdated technology. The new system will not only bring the tunnel up to current standards, but would allow for monitoring and adjusting lighting levels remotely, so the lighting can better adapt to current conditions and make it safer for the traveling public.

The schedule calls for responses to the current RFQ by mid-October, with a short list of proposers finalized in late November. Meetings with those proposers would result in a final Request for Proposals (RFP) to be issued in April 2018. A preferred proposer would be selected in late July 2018, with a contract close anticipated by September 2018.

Future Meetings and Events

Management Committee 12:00 Noon, Wednesday, October 11, 2017, MAG Offices*, Second Floor, Saguaro Room.
Transportation Policy Committee 12:00 Noon, Wednesday, October 18, 2017, MAG Offices*, Second Floor, Saguaro Room.
Regional Council 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, October 25, 2017, MAG Offices*, Second Floor, Saguaro Room.

*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.

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