Arizona Department of Transportation’s (ADOT) five-year road plan offers only minor solutions to fix major problems in northern Gila County, say officials.
Currently, ADOT has two sections under construction near Payson: Little Green Valley 15 miles east of the 87/260 junctions and Doubtful Canyon near Christopher Creek.
ADOT plans on constructing six concrete bridges, improve drainage, install additional fencing to protect wildlife, add rubberized asphalt pavement to minimize noise and offer a smoother ride to motorists, as well as put up new signage, striping and guardrails.
However, other problem areas such as the Lion Springs section of 260, which runs from outside of Star Valley to the elk crossing area before Christopher Creek, and the 87/260 two-lane road from Pine up to the Rim road will not make the ADOT budget until after 2016.
“I go to ADOT meetings every month to lobby for Gila roads,” said Steve Stratton, director of public works for Gila County.
At a recent work session of the Gila County Board of Supervisors, Stratton briefed the board on the projects in the current ADOT five-year plan. Each year, ADOT revisits the 5-year plan to modify and update its progress.
“We need to put attention to the road going from Payson to Pine up to the Rim. Where we have fatalities, it’s on that stretch of road. I don’t want to lose sight of that,” said Supervisor Tommie Martin.
“Anything I can do to shorten that timeline, I’ll do,” said Stratton.
Adopted on June 17, the Five-Year Transportation Facilities Construction Program report adjusts the budget for the overall ADOT transportation program.
ADOT is funded through state and federal gas taxes as well as state vehicle and licensing fees.
With the current economic downturn, ADOT has had to make changes to ensure total costs don’t exceed the budget available for the plan.
Beginning in 2009, costs for the program were $5 million over the original estimates. Through cost-cutting measures such as “value engineering,” delaying projects, and streamlining management methods, ADOT has kept its road improvement plans on target, stated the Five-Year Transportation Facilities Construction Program report.
Except for those dangerous sections in northern Gila County.
ADOT will spend more than $80 million in this five-year plan.