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10:57 AM Tue, Nov. 20th

ADOT: $631 million earmarked for area highways

KINGMAN – Arizona Department of Transportation has budgeted $631 million for five major reconstruction projects in the Kingman area, but no new roads are included in the department's long-range transportation plan.

A draft of the Move AZ Long Range Transportation Plan was presented at an open house Tuesday and listed projects that have been budgeted for construction through 2025.

Diane Kresich, a regional planner with ADOT, said that although the five budgeted projects slated for the Kingman area have not received final funding approval, they are "likely to happen for sure."

The projects include:

• Approximately $142 million to resurface and widen Interstate 40 to six lanes from mile posts 44 to 55;

• Approximately $107 million to resurface and widen I-40 to six lanes from mile posts 55 to 71; and

• Some $47 million to widen to four lanes U.S.

Highway 93 North from mileposts 2 to 17.

The Hwy.

93 project will open the traffic bottleneck south of Hoover Dam and be part of the bridge bypass project due for completion in 2007 or 2008.

Other Kingman-area projects include approximately $250 million to resurface and widen U.S.

Highway 93 South to four lanes from mile posts 92 to 121; and approximately $85 million to widen the highway to four lanes from mile posts 161 to 182.

At the meeting, John Pein, an ADOT planning manager, said the Kingman district did "extremely well" on a scoring system that determines which projects will get funded throughout the state.

He admitted that it didn't hurt that three of the five budgeted projects are located on U.S.

93 along a Canada-to-Mexico transportation corridor designated by the North American Free Trade Act.

He said road projects were evaluated on mobility, reliability, safety, preservation, resource conservation, connectivity and accessibility, with mobility and safety high on the list.

"From now on, when spending money, we will use performance measures.

We want some kind of return for our money," Pein said of proposed projects.

Although future Kingman-area road projects are included in the ADOT long-range plan, it is not certain whether those projects will receive funding.

"What funds we know are available are to 2025," he said.

"Each project will fund a bundle of work that includes smaller projects."

In 2009, ADOT will fund an additional $90 million worth of projects for the entire state.

Additional projects, such as new roads in rural areas, would require additional funding sources, such as a 5-cent gas tax, which would raise $2 billion for projects.

Pein said ADOT is not recommending a tax increase but citing it as an example of how additional projects could be funded.

"This is a rapidly growing state with tremendous needs," he said.

"This is a document in the making.

It is not the final say."

The plan caps two years of open houses throughout the state that have served as the basis for ADOT's major development decisions.

The statewide plan calls for the funding of $9.5 billion worth of road projects, half of which is for major planning, Pein said.

Kingman Mayor Les Byram, who attended the meeting, said he is pleased with ADOT's proposal to approve the five major projects.

"These projects are badly needed because of the greatly increased traffic in Kingman," he said.

"We must meet the demand."