PHOENIX — Improving traffic flow and safety on Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Tucson. Helping commerce move on a state route between the border and Interstate 19 in Nogales. Rehabilitating an 850-foot-long bridge along Interstate 15 in northwestern Arizona.
Aiming to move forward sooner on those goals, the Arizona Department of Transportation is seeking $109.5 million through two highly competitive federal grant programs.
With $800 million available through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s FASTLANE grant program, established under the 2015 FAST Act, ADOT has applied for $60 million and offered to provide $86.83 million in matching funds to be used in four ways along I-10 between the Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan areas:
• Realigning and widening four miles in the Picacho area to three lanes in each direction while reconstructing the interchange with State Route 87.
• Widening four miles between Earley Road and Interstate 8 to three lanes in each direction while upgrading ramps at Jimmie Kerr Boulevard near Casa Grande.
• Making technology enhancements to improve traffic management and safety, including remote sensors to provide early warning of approaching dust.
• Conducting preliminary engineering and completing an environmental analysis for widening 27 miles of I-10 to three lanes in each direction between the Loop 202 Santan Freeway and approximately SR 387 in Casa Grande. Any plan to widen I-10 through the Gila River Indian Community would require an agreement with the tribal government.
“The impact of Interstate 10 on Arizona’s citizens and economy is huge. Improvements to this vital link between Phoenix and Tucson are critical to our quality of life,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said. “Each element of the FASTLANE grant proposal will advance these efforts to continue improving I-10 and significantly benefit motorists and the flow of commerce.”
Meanwhile, ADOT has submitted Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant proposals for two projects:
• $25 million, with a proposed $39 million state match, to improve the 3.75-mile State Route 189 (Mariposa Road) in Nogales. Proposed upgrades to the route, which connects the Mariposa Port of Entry with Interstate 19 and Interstate Business 19/Grand Avenue, include a raised median and improving ramps connecting with I-19.
• $24.5 million, with a proposed $10.5 million state match, to rehabilitate Virgin River Bridge No. 1 on Interstate 15. Built in 1964 and located just east of Littlefield in the far northwestern corner of Arizona, the bridge has never undergone a major rehabilitation.
Both TIGER grant projects and the two I-10 construction projects in the FASTLANE grant are already part of ADOT’s plans, both through its current construction program and the Tentative Five-Year Transportation Facilities Construction Program that’s receiving public input and awaiting a vote by the State Transportation Board.
For Virgin River Bridge No. 1, $33 million in construction funding is programmed for fiscal 2019. For SR 189, ADOT has recommended $64 million in fiscal 2021 for construction. For the I-10 projects, ADOT has recommended $85 million in fiscal 2018 for the Picacho area and $40 million in fiscal 2019 for Earley Road to I-8.
Winning grants would allow these projects to move forward faster and enable ADOT to redirect money toward other pressing needs.
“There are no guarantees when it comes to competitive grants, but success pays big dividends for Arizona,” Halikowski said.
Since 2012, ADOT has received a total of $43.6 million through 15 competitive grants, most of them administered by U.S. DOT. Much of that amount comes from TIGER grants for a planned railroad overpass on State Route 347 in Maricopa and the ongoing reconstruction of Virgin River Bridge No. 6 on I-15.
There will be plenty of competition from other states for FASTLANE and TIGER grants. For fiscal 2015, when ADOT won a $15 million grant toward the SR 347 project, U.S. DOT received 627 eligible applications worth $10.1 billion for the $500 million available. About $500 million is available in the current round of TIGER grants.
U.S. DOT is expected to announce awards from both grant programs later this year.