KINGMAN - As Arizona approaches its statehood centennial, state transportation planners are contending with some of the same basic issues they were dealing with on Feb. 14, 1912, when Arizona became the 48th state - namely what to build and where to build it.
The backdrop for making the decisions, however, has changed drastically over the past century. When Lamar Cobb submitted the first state engineer's report to the Arizona Legislature on June 14, 1914, the state road system consisted of only 251 miles.
Today, the system sprawls over more than 6,000 miles, but the planning continues, and citizens throughout the state now have the opportunity to have their opinions heard.
In his first reports to the Legislature 95 years ago, Cobb invited public comment on his work because, in his own words, "I do not know it all and would like to profit by the opinions of others ... a public official serves himself best when he serves the public best."
Now, the Arizona Department of Transportation is echoing Cobb's call for public input by launching the Statewide Transportation Framework Planning Process. Following up on two series of public workshops it held around the state in 2008, ADOT is now looking for public input via the "Building a Quality Arizona" Web site, www.bqaz.gov.
Residents across the state have until March 10 to offer their opinion on what they would - and would not - like to see as the state plans for the next four decades of transportation projects.
ADOT began its statewide transportation planning study in early 2008 to focus on a long-range vision of transportation needs in Arizona. The study focuses on transportation needs through the year 2050, and breaks those needs down into four regional framework studies for northern, western, central and eastern Arizona, respectively.
Each study looks at ways to plan for growth, understand community development and economic patterns, and be prepared for several different scenarios for future transportation needs based on whether motorists continue using cars or shift to other means of getting around. All four studies are available for online commentary.
The web site provides the same information that was presented at the community workshops held in spring and autumn of 2008. ADOT developed the online workshops to provide an opportunity for individuals who missed the community workshops to weigh in on the study with the same essential background material.
"This is a visioning exercise, it's a determination of our transportation needs well into the future," said ADOT public information officer Michele Beggs. "All this comment will be critical - and I can't stress that enough - in helping us evaluate and reshape the future of transportation in Arizona."
Individuals can stay involved in the study by signing up for free e-mail newsletters and getting more information about the study at www.bqaz.gov.