Construction Of Tonto Basin Bridge Focus Of Meeting

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For years, the residents of Tonto Basin have talked about putting in a bridge to help them make it through the flooding that sometimes completely separates the east of town from the rest of the world after a storm.

Now, that bridge may become a reality.

A meeting has been scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday at the Kiwanis Building to discuss the bridge and possible locations.

Chris Kline, owner of Four Peaks Towing in Tonto Basin, has seen the effects of the high water in the creek. He said there are instances when people on the east side of the community are stranded.

In an average year, Kline said he tows 10 to 15 cars out of washes, and many of them are not residents, but they observe other vehicles crossing and think they can make it. There are some locals, he said, who tried to cross, and mentioned one case where two residents drowned.

He said the problem is only going to get worse, but he thinks this year something could finally be accomplished.

"Someone is pushing this very hard," the tow trucking company operator said.

Although the sites for the bridge have not been decided, Kline said, three locations have been discussed.

  • Sheep's Hill, which is 1.5 miles west of Punkin Center.
  • Red Hill, which 1.5 miles east of Punkin Center.
  • A Cross at the head of Roosevelt Lake between mileposts 255 and 256.

Two subdivisions are going to be built on the east side of Tonto Basin, which will result in 80 additional homes.

"It's just growing down here real fast," Kline said. "They are going to have to do something."

Gila County Supervisor Chairman Joe Sanchez will attend Monday's meeting.

Tonto Basin, a few years ago, was able to get $3 million from the federal government for the design and study stage of the bridge.

Irene Colleran, ADOT public relations spokeswoman, said the bridge project, which is funded through an 80 percent federal, 20 percent local match, is a county project.

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