Mayor Kenneth Weise, City of Avondale March 22, 2017, Meeting Summary
Message From the Chair
It was my honor to chair the March meeting in the absence of Mesa Mayor John Giles. Through his leadership and the leadership of the TPC, we continue to make great strides in delivering more than $5 billion dollars in Regional Freeway and Highway Program projects over the next 12 years. As Proposition 400 revenues continue to improve, the TPC recommended at the March meeting to move forward the 2016/17 rebalancing scenario, which includes a total of 41 projects.
This scenario includes a mix of projects that have been programmed since 2005, as well as all of the projects in a rebalancing pool approved by the TPC this past October. The action of the TPC demonstrates the commitment of its members to improving key infrastructure that will reap economic benefits for the entire region.
Higher than expected tax revenues, inflation discount, and other positive factors provided more than $1 billion dollars above the projected year end cash flow, allowing for even greater investment into the mobility and economic strength of the region. Not only did committee members agree on the project scenario to recommend to the Regional Council for approval, the TPC will track progress and implementation through quarterly reports and constant cash flow monitoring.
I want to congratulate all MAG members for coming together to improve transportation service. Our accountability to the public is key to our success and the foundation for strong economic growth in the region.
Mayor Kenneth Weise, City of Avondale TPC Vice Chair
TPC Meeting Summary
Regional Funding Reallocated to Gilbert Road Bridge
In a move to direct regional funding to where it is most needed, the TPC recommended approval of an exception to the Arterial Life Cycle Program (ALCP) Policies and Procedures in order to reallocate monies to the Gilbert Road Bridge over the Salt River. The Maricopa County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) made the request to reallocate $18.6 million in regional funding from the Dobson Road bridge project and $10 million from the McKellips Road project. The monies instead will be used to fund the Gilbert Road Bridge, the cost of which has gone up significantly since the project was originally put into the ALCP. A 2015 technical bridge review concluded the Gilbert Road Bridge has safety issues and impacted traffic flow during water releases. The ALCP Policies and Procedures prohibit reallocation of project savings until construction has been completed or there is a high degree of certainty that it will be completed within the specified scope and schedule. However, staff noted that the Gilbert Road Bridge provides a critical all-weather connection over the Salt River and MCDOT will be able to move forward with the project if funding is reallocated, making this exception in the best interests of the public.
Regional Freeway and Highway Program - 2016/17 Rebalancing
As noted above, MAG staff provided committee members an update on a tentative rebalancing scenario for the 2017 Regional Freeway and Highway program. MAG staff has worked closely with the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and numerous MAG member agencies to identify a design and construction program for a total of 41 projects over the next 12 years. When combined with current construction efforts, such as completing the I-10/Loop 303 traffic interchange in Goodyear, and Loop 202/South Mountain Freeway in Phoenix, the scenario represents a $5 billion program for meeting current and future travel demand throughout the MAG region.
Expansion of the Regional Freeway and Highway Program is possible due to improved Proposition 400 revenues, lower than anticipated costs associated with the current Loop 202/South Mountain Freeway construction, and an ongoing strategy by MAG and ADOT to continually reconsider and reevaluate design concepts for every project to deliver more program for the available dollars. These actions reflect a $1.8 billion cash flow increase over previous revenue estimates in 2012.
The TPC moved to recommend to the MAG Regional Council adoption of the tentative rebalancing scenario for the 2017 Regional Freeway and Highway Program. Later this year, amendments will be made to the FY 2018-2022 MAG Transportation Improvement Program and 2040 MAG Regional Transportation Plan, both currently in draft format, to initiate the process for eventual environmental, design, right-of-way, and construction phases of all projects in the program. MAG staff recommends a quarterly monitoring process for the TPC to oversee program cash flow and all varying phases for implementing these 41 projects over the next 12 years. An early draft of program monitoring was presented.
The TPC heard an update on legislative issues of interest. At the federal level, the President's proposed budget includes reducing funding to Amtrak, terminating support for long distance service and limiting funding for the Federal Transportation Administration's New Starts Program. Future investments in new transit projects would be funded by localities that use and benefit from them. Staff noted that leaves vulnerable the Tempe Streetcar and South Central Light Rail projects. The budget also would eliminate TIGER funding, which supports significant freight and highway projects, as well as Community Development Block Grants, which help to fund homelessness programs in the MAG region. MAG staff is tracking the budget through Congress and the possibility of a major infrastructure package that could be as much as $1 trillion dollars.
On the state level, Senate Bill (SB) 1270, which provided for Maricopa County to call for an election to extend the half-cent sales tax for transportation, was passed by the Senate but failed in the House Ways and Means Committee along party lines. Committee concerns included the percentage of funding for light rail, general election timing and concerns over a perceived tax increase. The MAG Regional Council Executive Committee discussed the tax extension bill this week, focusing on the development of the next Regional Transportation Plan, funding, and how new technologies would factor in when moving forward.
The MAG Offices are located at 302 N.1st Avenue, Phoenix. Meeting rooms are on the second floor. All meetings are subject to change.
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