Gila County is jumping into another cycle of requests for federal money to improve roads.
This time, roads in the unincorporated areas of Northern Gila County are topping the priority list.
The new federal transportation bill makes an estimated $14 million available to Arizona annually to improve access to federal lands. There is a Feb. 28 deadline to submit applications to develop a five- to seven-year program of transportation projects.
Part of the application process involves identifying the priority of roads for improvement.
The Gila County Board of Supervisors was asked by its staff to consider the following as priorities:
• Extending paving on Control Road;
• Extending paving on Colcord Road, which connects to East Highway 260;
• Extending paving on Forest Road 512, which is the Globe to Young road;
• Building a bridge over Oak Creek in Tonto Basin.
The county staff said the bridge project would cost between $1.5 and $2 million and could receive Arizona Department of Transportation funding. Work to improve the Young Road already has funding from the Secure Rural Schools Title II program — this money will be used to improve 13.5 miles of the unpaved road.
There is a possibility that additional Secure Rural Schools Title II money could become available to the county, staff told the supervisors. They are waiting for clarification regarding what the federal authorities “reauthorized” according to the county staff’s report to the board.
“It is a complicated and convoluted process because it is federal money,” Jacque Griffin said.
The projects, if awarded funds, would be scheduled three to five years into the program. It would also be necessary for the county to match 5.7 percent of the award. The federal government would do all the work and when it is finished, turn it over to the county for maintenance.
“There are a lot of unknowns still, but 5.7 is a very low match,” Steve Stratton, public works director told the supervisors.
Before accepting the proposed roads as the county’s priorities, District One Supervisor Tommie Martin asked about improving the Gisela Road.
Stratton said ADOT is making improvements to Highway 87 around Rye and the county can use the leftover millings from that project to do work on the Gisela Road.