I-40 paving falls short of ADOT stimulus priorities

Kramer vows to lobby state board to get project funded

KINGMAN - The State Transportation Board on Tuesday revealed a list of 27 projects across rural Arizona that the Arizona Department of Transportation has provisionally identified as priorities to receive more than $175 million in economic stimulus funding.

The repaving of Kingman's stretch of Interstate 40 from Holy Moses Wash to Rattlesnake Wash, however, fell just short of that list, ranking 30th in importance, according to the board's draft.

"The (full project list) they showed on the screen yesterday had the Holy Moses Wash preservation," City Manager Jack Kramer said Wednesday, referring to the $17 million repaving project that would essentially cover all of the highway from one side of town to the other.

Public Works Director Rob Owen said in February that the project was one of the most likely to generate job growth and new revenues for the city, due to its close proximity to town.

Kramer agreed, saying it was important that the city work to ensure the project get some stimulus funding. The board's preliminary draft ranked the project just below the funding cutoff threshold, so Kramer is hopeful the city can get it bumped up a few places into the top 27 by the time the board finalizes the priority list on March 13.

"They made it very clear that they can still move projects around and change the priority list if they feel there's a need," Kramer said. "We are going to have to lobby to move that up."

The board on Tuesday reaffirmed its Feb. 20 decision to distribute fully half of ADOT's anticipated $350 million in highway stimulus money to Arizona's 13 rural counties, with the two remaining metropolitan counties, Maricopa and Pima, set to receive $129 million and $45.5 million respectively.

Board members also approved a project list of Maricopa's top five road construction priorities totaling $131 million as well as another list of Pima County's top eight priorities, totaling $46.6 million. ADOT had originally identified 40 shovel-ready projects between the two counties, totaling more than $410 million.

The board did not, however, officially sign off on the list of 27 rural county projects, opting instead to give local governments a chance to give further input. The 27 projects represent only about a third of the 77 shovel-ready projects ADOT identified across rural Arizona, with a total cost of just over $502 million.

The sole project from Mohave County currently on the short list is the construction of a two-lane southbound roadway running parallel to the existing two lanes of U.S. Highway 93, from milepost 104 to milepost 106. ADOT spokeswoman Michele Beggs said the project is part of an ongoing effort to widen 93 from two to four lanes between Wikieup and Wickenburg.

If approved, the project would inject approximately $15 million into Mohave County, all but assuring new jobs for the ailing construction sector. Even so, Kramer wants the board to reconsider the I-40 pavement project, since it would lead to increased sales tax revenues for the city even if ADOT went with an out-of-town contractor.

In the coming days, Kramer said, he intended to call Kingman's district representative on the board, Bill Feldmeier, to try to convince him of the importance of getting the project on the priority list.

"They're not cast in stone," Kramer said. "They told us to look at the list and give a recommendation by next week."

To view ADOT's full ranking of rural stimulus priorities, visit www.azdot.gov/board/agendas/PDf_2009/030309_STB_Recovery_Presentation.pdf.