Payson’s traffic advisory committee wrestled with the frustration of a budget crisis that has driven its efforts to upgrade and rationalize the town’s circulation system into the ditch during its recent meeting.
The board pondered its priority list in the face of a tax slump that has prompted the town to drop into limbo all capital improvements. After years of delay in upgrading streets, the town went into a relative road-building frenzy about three years ago when the housing market was booming. But the slump all but eliminated new home construction and the rush of street projects swallowed up the town’s rainy day fund before the town slammed on the fiscal brakes last year.
The Surface Transportation Advisory Committee (STAC) has since adopted a prioritized list of proposed street projects. The list doesn’t include the rebuilding of Bonita Street, which had already been approved by the council and the regional authority that provides most of the money for street building.
The town is seeking federal stimulus money for that $1.2 million project since it qualifies as “shovel ready,” but the Central Arizona Association of Governments put it far enough down the priority list that it probably won’t make it into the current stimulus package, said Town Public Works Director LaRon Garrett.
In the meantime, STAC members put the final touches on a now almost wistful list of road projects.
The top priority was the design work for a revamp of Frontier Street between McLane and Highway 87, part of the redevelopment of Main Street. That project ended up on top of the list in large measure because the Arizona Department of Transportation has already agreed to pay most of the cost.
After a nearly four-month delay, ADOT last week responded to the town’s proposal for a redesign of the street intended to make the area more pedestrian friendly as part of a plan to turn Main Street into a tourist-oriented district.
The town will then incorporate ADOT’s suggestions and hope for the approval of a final plan by summer.
“It’s not moving very fast,” observed Garrett.
ADOT has already committed a $300,000 grant for the project, but the town will have to provide about $40,000 in matching funds.
“But we don’t have a dime for it,” said Garrett. “It is cheap for what we get, until you don’t have the $40,000.”
“But if you’re getting $300,000 for $40,000, it sounds like a good deal to me,” said committee member Bob Dalby.
“Do we have a chance of coming up with the money next year?” asked STAC Chairman Tom Loeffler.
“Not much,” said Garrett.
“If there’s money there, it ought to be initiated,” said committee member Roy Kindrick, “so there’s work for people.”
The committee held out even less hope for the other top projects on the list, since most would have to be financed by the town without much help.
The extension of Mud Springs Road to Highway 260 dropped from the No. 1 slot to the number 6 slot on STAC’s priority list.
Priority list includes:
1. Design work for Frontier Street
2. Rebuild Manzanita Drive from
Highway 260 to Evergreen Street
3. Rebuild McLane Road from Airport
to Payson Ranchos
4. Extend Rumsey Road
5. Buy right of way and complete
designs to extend Goodnow Road
6. Extend Mud Springs Road to
7. Buy right of way along Frontier
Street between Highway 87 and
8. Do design work to rebuild Easy
Street between Evergreen and
9. Extend Goodnow Road
10. Rebuild Frontier Street
11. Do design work and buy right of
way along Phoenix Street from
Highway 87 to Sycamore
12. Rebuild Easy Street between
Evergreen and Matterhorn
13. Rebuild McLane Road between
Payson Ranchos and Payson Pines