The Lion Springs section of Highway 260 will remain two lanes for at least another five years after the State Transportation Board decided last month not to fund the project.
The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) had presented a plan to the board that included $40 million in funding to widen the section, but the board pulled the project from the Five-Year Transportation Facilities Construction Program and put it toward statewide pavement preservation instead.
The Lion Springs section, which sits just east of Star Valley, was not completely forgotten though. The board allocated $5 million in 2018 for design work of the four-lane widening.
The board reportedly wrestled with how to fund major projects like Lion Springs and still maintain the existing highways with a budget that took a $350 million hit.
As part of the planning process, ADOT developed three scenarios to address how to fund projects in greater Arizona. Scenario A focused on preservation; Scenario B, on moving major projects forward and Scenario C focused on a combination of preservation and major projects.
The public had several months to comment on which five-year scenario they liked best and ADOT received 1,300 comments. ADOT put those comments online, including many from Rim Country residents and officials urging the board to finish the Highway 260 widening for safety and economic concerns. However, many other people around the state encouraged ADOT to maintain what it has instead of tackling new projects.
The board adopted a modified version of Scenario C, which drops the Lion Springs section.
“The board had tough choices to make given our limited funding resources,” said ADOT Director John Halikowski in a press release.
The following is the list of projects for Arizona during the 2014-2018 Five-Year Program:
• State Route 89, Deep Well Ranch Road to South Chino Valley: On June 14, the board voted to accelerate this highway-widening project from FY 2014 to FY 2013, placing it in the current Five-Year Program. This $25 million project is funded with unexpended money from other ADOT highway projects.
• Interstate 10, Ehrenberg Port of Entry, Phase One: $8 million allocated in FY 2014 for technology improvements.
• US 95, Fortuna Wash Bridge Construction: $1.5 million allocated in FY 2014 for design and $13.5 million allocated in FY 2015 for construction.
• State Route 260, Lion Springs Section: Will be reduced from $40 million to $5 million, which will be allocated in FY 2018 for design work on this widening project. The $35 million previously allocated for this project will now go toward pavement preservation.
• US 60, Silver King Section and Superior Streets: $45 million accelerated from FY 2016 to FY 2015 for this widening project.
• State Route 260, Interstate 17 to Thousand Trails: $4 million allocated in FY 2014 for scoping and $62 million allocated in FY 2016 for construction of this widening project.