February 21, 2018
Mayor Jenn Daniels, Town of Gilbert
February 21, 2018, Meeting Summary
It was my pleasure to serve as the acting chair for our February meeting. It was rewarding to hear the Arizona Department of Transportation's presentation on the tremendous progress being made on the Loop 202/South Mountain Freeway. Construction is well underway, including the elevated 3,500 foot long bridge over the Salt River that supports a future connection with State Route (SR) 30. We learned that right-of-way purchases are nearly complete, and that amenities will include a 16-mile shared use path from 17th to 40th avenues. Five multi-use crossings will provide access to South Mountain by hikers, bikers, equestrians, and wildlife.
As an East Valley mayor, I am especially excited to see this extension take place from a business perspective. The freeway will provide an economic development corridor that will better connect businesses in the East and West Valleys. It is gratifying to hear about the high-tech corridor that the City of Phoenix is planning along the north/south segment. I saw firsthand how the Loop 202/Santan Freeway helped business development. One great example is Rivulon, a 250-acre mixed-use development at the corner of Gilbert Road and the 202. I am confident the community of Laveen will experience similar success.
Other items on the agenda also were of note, including a recommendation for early purchase of right-of-way to take place for the SR-30/Tres Rios Freeway corridor. This corridor will provide a critical alternative to Interstate 10 (I-10). I-10 is the lifeblood of our region for freight coming out of California, and we need to ensure future mobility.
All of the progress outlined in this update is possible through the ongoing support of the TPC and by the continued efforts of MAG staff. It was enjoyable to hear about the recent recognition received by a number of MAG transportation staff at the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board. It is a good reminder of the great work that MAG does in partnership with its member agencies. Keep up the good work!
Mayor Jenn Daniels
TPC Vice Chair
Construction on the 22-mile Loop 202/South Mountain Freeway is progressing on target. That was the message from the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT). ADOT representatives showed a flyover video illustrating the construction project, which began in February of 2017 and is expected to be complete late next year. ADOT partnered with a private developer to design, build and maintain the freeway for 30 years. This innovative public-private partnership means the South Mountain Freeway will be completed three years earlier than originally planned, at a savings of approximately $100 million. It is the largest freeway project in state history.
ADOT reported the project is at the halfway point, with about 50 percent of allocated funds spent and most right-of- way acquisitions complete. MAG staff noted the new freeway is expected to immediately carry 120,000 to 130,000 vehicles per day.
MAG staff provided an update on the implementation of the Regional Freeway and Highway Program. ADOT, with MAG assistance, continues work on 19 of the 37 projects in the rebalanced program approved by the Regional Council last June.
Several projects were highlighted, including adding lanes on Interstate 10 (I-10) from State Route 85 (SR-85) to Verrado Way, reconstruction of the Central Avenue overcrossing on Interstate 17 (I-17), and adding lanes on Loop 101/Pima Freeway from I-17 to Pima Road. In 2018 and 2019, ADOT expects to assign approximately $732 million in construction projects. When combined with the Loop 202/South Mountain Freeway project, more than $1.6 billion in infrastructure construction is either underway or will be underway in the MAG region.
Staff also noted the continued high level of coordination with ADOT and the Federal Highway Administration to execute these projects. ADOT continues to meet internal targets for contract execution and project delivery, and MAG is working with ADOT to develop monitoring systems that would continually track progress, budget and risks.
The TPC recommended approval of material cost changes to the I-10/Papago new traffic interchange at Fairway Drive in the amount of $6 million. The ADOT request is for additional right-of-way needs and unforeseen structural walls to avoid recent development constructed along Fairway Drive next to I-10.The recommendation for approval includes amendments to the FY 2018-2022 MAG Transportation Improvement Program and 2040 Regional Transportation Plan.
The next quarterly update of the program to the TPC will be in April 2018.
The TPC recommended approval of an amendment regarding construction of Arizona State Route (SR) 30/Tres Rios Freeway, between Loop 303 and Loop 202/South Mountain Freeway. This segment of the future freeway corridor is located in the West Valley and is planned for construction within the cities of Avondale, Goodyear, and Phoenix, as well as unincorporated Maricopa County. Construction of this facility is scheduled to begin in June 2022, and a program amount of $342,500 million was identified.
As stakeholders have been engaged along the preferred centerline of SR-30, an opportunity has developed to acquire a residential subdivision at 99th Avenue in Phoenix, presently under construction, prior to its full development. Early acquisition of rights-of-way for future freeways within the MAG Regional Freeway and Highway Program has been a practice undertaken by ADOT and MAG. The goal with this practice is to protect future freeway corridors prior to an environmental action in the event the known location causes a financial hardship on a property owner. It is anticipated that early acquisition of this development will save the program costs and minimize multiple residential relocations for new residents.
Before ADOT can begin an early right-of-way acquisition, the FY 2018-2022 MAG Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) requires an amendment to allow the process to begin. The TPC recommended moving $60 million in right-of-way funding for SR-30 from FY 2021 to FY 2018, to allow for early right-of-way acquisition in the SR-30/Tres Rios Freeway Corridor.
Staff provided an update on MAG's participation in the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB). The TRB, part of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, has been the leading agency since 1920 for establishing technical standards and guidelines for constructing and maintaining the nation's infrastructure. The TRB is an integral part of the transportation community for research, education, discussion and application.
This year's TRB annual meeting featured 850 sessions, 150 workshops, and more than 15,000 attendees worldwide. MAG staff attending were involved in topics ranging from multimodal travel behavior and big data applications to policy considerations for autonomous vehicles. MAG staff has membership and leadership of numerous TRB standing committees, which serve as a forum for discussing current and future transportation issues. It also was noted that MAG will be the lead agency sponsoring the TRB National Transportation Planning Applications Conference, to be held in the Valley in April 2019.
MAG staff provided a brief update on legislative issues of interest. Details are emerging from President Trump's recently released infrastructure proposal. About $200 billion dollars could serve as funding incentive to jump-start road, bridge, transit and other needed infrastructure projects. The proposal is built on the assumption that money would lead to $1.5 trillion in investment from state, county and local governments and private partners over the next 10 years. In order to participate, states or local governments would need to come up with a match that could be significantly higher than in the past. It is unclear when Congress will take up the proposal.
Staff also summarized bills moving through the Arizona Legislature that could extend the sales tax for transportation, add new vehicle fees and eliminate exemptions for registration of alternative fuel vehicles. Senate Bill 1147 would allow the state's rural counties to ask their voters to impose a one-cent sales tax for road construction and repair. The bill also would allow for a vote in Pima and Maricopa Counties to extend their own road sales taxes before they expire. The Senate bill has passed and a companion bill is moving through the House.
Meanwhile, the House passed House Bill (HB) 2166, which would allow ADOT to levy a new fee on all vehicles to finance the $120 million annual cost of operating the highway patrol division of the Department of Public Safety (DPS). HB 2166 also reduces the break in existing vehicle license fees that owners of electric and natural gas powered vehicles now receive. The bill is an effort to protect the Highway User Revenue Fund (HURF). The HURF fund is earmarked for roads, but some of that funding is being used to pay for DPS. The bill now goes to the Senate.
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