Bridge To Span Tonto Creek


A bridge for Tonto Creek will require persistence and patience from residents in the Tonto Basin area.

That is what more than 200 residents learned when they met with a representative from Rep. Rick Renzi's office March 16.

Joanne Keene, district director for the congressman, said the planning phase alone will take approximately two years, and that is if the U.S. Senate passes the legislation.

The bill awarding $3 million to the project, the Transportation Equity Act of 2005, was passed by the House of Representatives with Renzi's efforts.

The funds will be managed by the U.S. Corps of Engineers. The planning phase includes surveys, mapping, engineering and design, structural analyses and public hearings, which should take place between 2005 and 2007.

A non-federal sponsor is also needed for the project. This could be either Gila County, through its Flood Control District or Public Works, or the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Approximately 900 people live on the east side of Tonto Creek, including a third of the children enrolled in school.

Since December, all three roads crossing the creek have been closed at one time or another, and while two of the roads have since been opened, making the crossing in a car is not advised.

Getting to the other side entails a three-hour, 75-mile trek on the poorly maintained Forest Road 60 around the back side of Roosevelt Lake.

All Tonto Basin residents are urged to continue the campaign for a Tonto Creek bridge with letters, e-mail and telephone calls to the county, state and federal officials.

On April 12, the Gila County Board of Supervisors will have a work session on structural flood control measures in the unincorporated areas of the county and the different public agencies responsible. The meeting is at 10 a.m. in the supervisors' hearing room in Globe.

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