Highway Plan Hits Roadblock

Hwy 260 widening map

Hwy 260 widening map

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Plans to widen the final section of Highway 260 up to the Mogollon Rim may be off the table for at least another five years if the Arizona Transportation Board Tuesday approves a modified plan that eliminates funding for the Lion Springs section.

After months of planning, public hearings and study, the Arizona Department of Transportation presented a five-year plan to the board in Pinetop-Lakeside June 14 laying out roadway improvement projects around the state. The plan included widening the Lion Springs section at a cost of $43.5 million, $3.5 million in 2016 for design and $40 million in 2018 for construction.

After looking over the proposal, however, the board came back with several changes.

Board member Kelly Anderson, who represents Gila, Graham and Pinal counties, asked ADOT to remove the $40 million for the construction of Lion Springs from the plan.

The board suggested allocating only $5 million for design of the project in 2018 and looking at construction possibly in the next five-year plan, said Laura Douglas, an ADOT spokesperson who was at the Pinetop meeting.

“But nothing is final at this point,” she said.

An ADOT team is looking over the board’s changes and weaving them into the five-year plan. The board will look at the revised plan at a special meeting Tuesday in Phoenix and possibly vote on it then.

Anderson reportedly said the changes were reflective in part of public and official comments.

Douglas said there were a number of comments at public hearings in favor of the widening project.

Payson Mayor Kenny Evans and Gila County Supervisor Tommie Martin both spoke out in favor of the project, saying it would improve safety and the local economy.

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