By Raquel Hendrickson for inMaricopa.com
Any improvement to the experience of driving on SR 347 is in demand. One possible solution would have voters raising their own taxes for a Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) that could add lanes to the highway.
“Most likely, the question will be put before voters on the November ballot,” County Supervisor Anthony Smith said. “If it’s approved by the voters, then new transportation projects across the whole county will be funded by that half-cent sales tax, which accumulates a total revenue of about $640M.”
Because governments cannot base plans on the unknown opinion of the public, the possible RTA and its implications for SR 347 are not part of the Maricopa General Plan. Other transportation proposals are included in that vision, however.
Pinal County’s proposed RTA includes two projects in the Maricopa area. One of those projects would widen SR 347 to six lanes.
If approved, SR 347 is the first major project on the RTA list, with design starting in 2017 and construction completed by 2020. 2020 is also the year targeted for the construction of the overpass.
The RTA would provide $28.8M to make SR 347 six lanes from Maricopa to I-10. That does not necessarily involve widening the existing road bed. SR 347 runs through land belonging to the Gila River Indian Community and only a certain width is allocated. But the existing four lanes with median do have enough room for six lanes if designers are creative, Smith said.
Frequently appearing on priority lists is the creation of a leg of I-11 through Pinal County. That possibility shows up on General Plan maps. It is also the second Maricopa-area project on the potential RTA list.
The RTA would allocate $4.8M by 2024 to acquire right of way for either a leg of I-11 or another high-capacity parkway south of Maricopa.
Discussions of an RTA sales tax came about because state and federal money was slow in coming to help Pinal County’s transportation problems.
In the past 15 years, Smith said, Pinal County doubled in population and Maricopa grew 4,000 percent, but residents are still using the pre-boom roads.
SR 347 Railroad Overpass Project
An overpass in Maricopa will be more than an overpass – at least in terms of strategy.
The future grade-separation project at the State Route 347/Union Pacific Railroad crossing is actually three projects in one. The City of Maricopa is responsible for one of the primary elements and ADOT is responsible for the other two sections, though they coordinate efforts.
- Relocation of Amtrak Station
This effort is under design by the city. The Design Concept Report estimated the project will cost $4.6M. The station is to be moved up the tracks less than a mile, northwest to Estrella Gin property.
The relocation will involve constructing a station building and associated structures, adding rail siding and creating drainage.
- Realignment of local streets
The overpass project will require realignment of streets on both sides of SR 347 and on both sides of the tracks.
ADOT is responsible for this element of the project. Paki said the estimated cost is $11.2M if the street realignments are part of the overpass project and not an independent project.
- Realignment of SR 347 and construction of roadway over UPRR tracks
The estimated cost of realigning SR 347 between Hathaway Avenue on the north and Alterra Parkway on the south plus building the overpass is $39.1M, which is ADOT’s responsibility.