Proposed funding cuts prompt ADOT to scale back U.S. 93 widening project

The Arizona Department of Transportation plans to scale back the ongoing widening project in Mohave County for U.S.

93 south of Interstate 40 because of proposed funding cuts in the next five years, officials said.

However, the funding shortfall will not affect the proposed Hoover Dam bypass, said Dick Hileman, a Lake Havasu City resident who serves on the state transportation board.

"We just sit down as a board and look at the entire state's needs," Hileman said.

"We just are short of funds.

We have been cut back $25 million a year in the proposed budget for this coming (2002) and next fiscal year (2003)."

The state is shifting funding for transportation projects to other counties, said Debra Brisk, Kingman district engineer for ADOT.

Paul McCormick, a Kingman resident who serves on the Mohave County Transportation Commission and the state Canamex Task Force, said he was aware of plans to cut funding.

Canamex, which stands for Canada, America and Mexico, is a commission established under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"We were told that due to the status of the economy and not being sure of a recovery in the future, they are having to make these cutbacks," McCormick said.

The proposed five-year funding plan shows about $15.4 million for Mohave County in 2002, $130.3 million in 2003, $12.5 million in 2004, $10 million in 2005 and more than $4.5 million in 2006.

The 2002 fiscal year begins July 1.

The budget for 2003 is high because of Hoover Dam ($43 million) and $30 million for the Burro Creek stretch of U.S.

93 south of Wikieup, Hileman said.

"While there is not much money for dirt projects, we are working diligently for the work over the dam," Hileman said.

"We have come a long ways as far as funding for that bridge, and we are working with the feds to get an increased share (of funding)."

Major projects proposed for 2003 include $18.3 million for road construction on the 5.2 mile stretch along Burro Creek-Lava Rock, $12 million for building a bridge and approaches at Burro Creek, $8.8 million for new parallel roadway along a five-mile stretch beginning six miles south of I-40 and $15.7 million for road construction on a 4.5-mile stretch just south of Wikieup.

"You don't see much for fiscal 2005-6 for Wikieup to I-40," Brisk said.

However, a project that entails widening a 36-mile stretch south of Wikieup to the Santa Maria River will be completed by early 2006, she said.

"We can't do much for $2.1 million," Brisk said.

"We got projects that are $10 (million) to $20 million."

A decent-size project costs $8 million to $10 million and involves widening at least three miles from two to four lanes, she said.

McCormick said he hopes the state can proceed with the Hoover Dam bypass project, but was upset funding may be cut for the U.S.

93 stretch south of I-40.

The stretch of U.S.

93 in Arizona is part of the NAFTA trade corridor.

"We simply have to keep applying pressure, hopefully, so that we can keep the funding at the current level," McCormick said.

Hileman said he has met regularly with Kingman officials, but he indicated that the budget for the next five years is "pretty much" set at this time.

The state board is scheduled to consider the plan when it meets in June.

"Ultimately, 93 is going to be a four-lane, divided road," Hileman said.

"You are talking probably 20 years (from now).

It's a huge project."