FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Nathan Pryor
Intergovernmental Policy Coordinator
PHOENIX (Dec. 23, 2011) ? Yesterday, the Arizona Auditor General released a performance audit on the countywide Regional Transportation Plan, known publicly as Proposition 400, that shows the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) is delivering projects as promised to voters. The Auditor General reported that MAG has made great strides in establishing and managing a complex, multimodal transportation network in Maricopa County. The performance audit was conducted to assure County residents that they are receiving the transportation benefits promised to them in the twenty-year, countywide sales tax.
MAG welcomes the opportunity to improve processes and increase efficiency and effectiveness of the transportation program. “On behalf of the MAG Regional Council, we are thankful for the efforts of the audit team,” said Tempe Mayor and Regional Council Chairman Hugh Hallman. “We are even more thankful for the audit’s positive findings. Despite the serious economic downturn that still grips the Valley, partners in regional cooperation have found ways to deliver transportation solutions that work ? and we will continue to do so.”
With the passage of Proposition 400 in 2004, the voters in Maricopa County renewed the regional sales tax for transportation. The MAG Regional Transportation Plan provides the blueprint for the implementation of Proposition 400. The Regional Transportation Plan identifies specific projects and revenue allocations by transportation mode, including freeways and other routes on the State Highway System, major arterial streets, and public transportation systems.
Mesa Mayor Scott Smith stated, “The Regional Transportation Plan has provided real economic opportunities throughout Maricopa County. Investing in infrastructure is one of the most important things that government can do to help foster economic prosperity. The freeways, streets, buses and light rail included in Proposition 400 connect residents to jobs. The plan also has opened up new economic opportunities by connecting the region to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. In addition, the construction jobs created by these projects have come at an opportune time for the local economy.”
The inclusion of an audit for Proposition 400 was partly due to concerns about anticipated light rail performance. Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon stated, “A recent critical piece of the region’s transportation system is the 20 mile light rail system. Not only has daily light rail ridership met initial projections, it has exceeded them by approximately 70%. So the question isn’t ‘should we have built a light rail system’ instead, the question is ‘when can we build more?’”
In addition to light rail, many other important components of the Regional Transportation Plan have been completed in recent years. Proposition 400 has brought 450 lane miles of freeway to the region including 210 miles of high occupancy vehicle lanes. For arterial streets projects, approximately $153 million has been disbursed to MAG member agencies for 33 completed projects. The regional bus transit system has seen increased levels of service and route coverage area plus a new mobility center to address the special mobility needs of riders with disabilities.
The recent and ongoing economic downturn has posed significant challenges to the Regional Transportation Plan. MAG is responsible for the budgeting aspects of the Regional Transportation Plan and ensuring that the plan is in fiscal balance. Declining sales tax revenue has meant a reduction of approximately $6 billion in the plan. Despite this reduction, MAG still has provided safe and efficient transportation facilities in a strategic manner to better position the region for economic opportunities.
“During these challenging economic times, MAG is still realizing major transportation improvements for the region,” said Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs. “An example of this can be seen with the long awaited construction of the Loop 303. This freeway will serve as an important connection that will benefit Maricopa County citizens and attract new businesses.”
The Regional Transportation Plan performance audit is located at www.azauditor.gov.
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