Bonita Street: On Again, Off Again, On Again

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First there is a project.

Then there is no project.

Then there is.

Oh, Bonita — we call your name.

That’s a quick summary of the on again, off again plans to spend $1.3 million to rebuild a deteriorating stretch of Bonita Street, complete with one-sided sidewalks and bike paths.

The long-hoped-for project has made it back onto a regional road-building schedule, Payson Public Works Director LaRon Garrett told the town council last week.

However, construction won’t actually start until perhaps 2015.

The project had made it to the top of the regional list two years ago, when the recession hit and gas tax revenues dried up. Payson was nearly ready to award contracts for the project to replace the asphalt, buy land to widen the right-of-way and add curbs, gutters, sidewalks and bike paths, when the state pulled the plug.

Back then, community supporters decried the loss of the project, noting that the narrow, deteriorating street without sidewalks provided a major route to both the high school and Frontier Elementary School.

However, the Payson School Board voted recently to shut down Frontier at the end of the current school year to shave $300,000 off the $800,000 deficit for next year.

That apparently didn’t hurt the project’s priority on the list maintained by Central Arizona Association of Governments, a regional organization that allocates state and federal road money.

The revived rebuild would cover the stretch between Bentley and Highway 87.

Garrett said CAG’s most recent priority list will put Bonita in line to get federal funding. The shift from state gas tax funding to federal funding will raise some additional hurdles — like the need for an environmental study.

If the current schedule holds, the town will get mostly federal funds to do the environmental impact study in 2013.

Construction could then actually start in 2015 or 2016.

But then, the project will have spent about eight years on top of the road-building priority list.

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