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6:01 PM Tue, Sept. 18th

Yavapai comes up short in ADOT's latest five-year plan

PHOENIX – Prescott tri-city officials had hoped to see a traffic interchange at highways 89 and 89A in the state's new five-year transportation plan, but it isn't.

The tentative plan calls for 26 percent of the $2.8 billion program going to Maricopa County projects. Not surprisingly, Pima County comes in second at 10 percent, followed by Mohave with 6 percent and Yavapai with 4 percent, or $122 million.

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) board is scheduled to vote on the five-year plan at its June 21 meeting.

The state budget deficit combined with low project cost estimates forced ADOT to cut about $150 million between its last five-year plan and its new five-year plan, said the agency's programming manager, Arnold Burnham.

Prescott-area officials heard right when they heard that most of those cuts came out of rural Arizona projects, Burnham said.

"The 13 other counties really aren't getting that much in terms of major construction projects," Burnham said.

Mohave County is getting the highest amount of rural dollars largely because of the Highway 93 widening project, Burnham said. Part of that project also runs through Yavapai County.

Yavapai County has done well in the past with the Highway 69 widening, and now the Highway 89A widening and realignment, Burnham said.

"They've actually got a pretty good share of the program," he said. "But the state's growing so fast everywhere, there are needs all over."

Yavapai County's sales tax for regional transportation projects helps, Burnham said. He wishes more counties had such a tax.

The county uses its sales tax revenues to help ADOT on various local projects.

For example, the county government already is designing the interchange at highways 89 and 89A so it will be ready to go whenever the state gets enough money to build it.

The Central Yavapai Association of Governments has offered to put an entire year's worth of its federal transportation dollars allocation, approximately $600,000, for the interchange, Yavapai County Public Works Director Richard Straub noted.

ADOT built the ramps for the traffic interchange at highways 89 and 89A when it built the Airport Connector, but until the interchange is complete, motorists will have to continue to stop at the traffic lights there.

Citizens have called to complain that the interchange isn't complete and that it's not on ADOT's tentative five-year plan, Straub said.

Contact Joanna Dodder at jdodder@prescottaz.com