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Mar 132013
 

It is the perfect storm that’s been brewing for the last few years as the effects of the economic downturn hit us all. The Arizona Department of Transportation has been forecasting dramatic funding challenges since 2009 that will affect projects across the state. Those economic predictions have now become a reality as ADOT begins to map out its next Five-Year Transportation Facilities Construction Program.
The five-year program is updated each year, and serves as a blueprint that details where, when and how regional, state and federal funding will be spent for projects over the next five years to improve the state’s transportation infrastructure. For the 2014-18 Five-Year Program (which is still tentative), ADOT has determined that $350 million must be cut due to stagnant revenue from the gas and vehicle license taxes and from decreased federal funding.
As a result, the next five-year program reflects a major focus on preserving the existing state highway system while moving some programmed projects forward. Other programmed projects in the five-year program will need to be delayed to future years due to significantly less funding. Preserving the system means protecting an investment of $18.4 billion; this is the value of the state highway system through monies spent on expansion, modernization and preservation projects.
The tentative five-year program is online and available for public comment. There are three scenarios that are being considered for implementation, and all three scenarios are available for public comment.
Scenario A, Focus on Preservation. This scenario focuses the most investment on keeping the existing highway system in good repair with the least investment in programmed major projects in greater Arizona. There would be 81 preservation projects from 2014 to 2016, 39 bridge projects, one major project and 690 miles of pavement projects. An average of $184 million per year in preservation from 2014 through 2018 would be allocated. Arizona’s interstate system is projected to fall below current standards for pavement quality in 2031 with this scenario.
Scenario B, Focus on Programmed Major Projects. This scenario focuses the most investment on major projects that are programmed in greater Arizona with the lowest investment in keeping existing highways in good repair through preservation. There would be nine major projects from 2014 to 2017. From 2014 to 2016, there would be 25 bridge projects and 458 miles of pavement projects. An average of $142 million per year in preservation from 2014 to 2018 would be allocated. Arizona’s interstate system is projected to fall below current standards for pavement quality in 2017 with this scenario.
Scenario C, Combination of Preservation and Major Projects. This scenario focuses on some investment in major projects that are programmed in greater Arizona with less investment in keeping existing highways in good repair. There would be four major projects from 2014 to 2017, 39 bridge projects from 2014 to 2018 and 524 miles of pavement projects. An average of $149 million per year in preservation from 2014 to 2018 would be allocated. Arizona’s interstate system is projected to fall below current standards for pavement quality in 2021 with this scenario.
The tentative plan may be reviewed online at http://www.azdot.gov/fiveyearprogram/.
The public comment period is now underway. ADOT has provided the following options to submit your comments and feedback: e-mail FiveYearProgram@azdot.gov, fill out an online comment form at the website listed in the previous paragraph, telephone 1-855-712-8530, or print and mail the comment form to ADOT 5 Year Program, 1655 W. Jackson, MD 126F, Phoenix, Ariz. 85007
The State Transportation Board will consider all public comments received by May 17. The board is expected to adopt the 2014-18 Five-Year Program at its June 14 meeting in Pinetop-Lakeside.