Plans for the Tonto Creek Bridge Gila County

A rendering of what the proposed bridge would look like in Punkin Center.

An Arizona Senate floor vote of 28-2 Jan. 30 approved Dist. 6 Sen. Sylvia Allen’s bill, SB 1035, to provide $15 million in funding for a bridge across Tonto Creek in Tonto Basin. With the approval, the bill goes to the House, where Dist. 8 Rep. David Cook’s HB 2056 is still traversing committee hearings. The House bill also seeks $15 million for the bridge project.

Voting against the bill were David Livingston, who voted against it in the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Eddie Farnsworth, Dist. 12, which includes Mesa. Farnsworth is the Senate president pro tempore.

Livingston, Dist. 22, chairs the Senate Transportation and Safety Committee. Casting his vote in the appropriations committee, he said there are a lot of bridges that need to be repaired and built in Arizona. He has seen the ADOT list of priorities and this bridge is not on it and since Gov. Doug Ducey has already asked the federal government to fund it, “I want to wait to see what happens through the process and with the budget.”

The House appropriations committee approved Cook’s bill 10-1 Feb. 5 (the one “no” was for an absent member, Bret Roberts, who represents a large chunk of southwest Pinal County and some of northeast Pima County). It is next set to go to the rules committee.

The Gila County Board of Supervisors was provided the update on the Senate vote by County Manager James Menlove at its Feb. 4 meeting.

Deputy County Manager Jacque Sanders updated the BOS on the hoped for a Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant for the bridge. She said the application, accompanied by a video made by Randy Roberson, earned a “highly recommended” ranking, which is above the ranking it received last year. However, it is among about 207 applications from which only 53 will be funded. The outcome is pending.

Experts say it will cost around $18 million to build a bridge over Tonto Creek. The county has about $3 million set aside for the Tonto Creek bridge project in its budget, plus has done all the work to make it “shovel ready” with not only the design in place, but by also buying the needed property on either side of the creek and securing all the environmental clearances required by the federal government. In fact, all the required pieces to make the project shovel ready have been in place since 2012.

Efforts to secure a bridge, or just a year-round safe access crossing, go as far back as the 1970s, Allen said.

Eight people have lost their lives trying to cross the creek during flooding.

“The state has the money. This needs to be done. Let’s do it now,” Allen urged the House Transportation Committee members at an earlier hearing.

Contact the reporter at tmcquerrey@payson.com

(5) comments

pioneerfamily

Sooooooooooooooo???? The Arizona stupid driver law is no longer enforced??

The Concho Cowboy

LDS needs to build the bridge themselves, they are the ones who created a community there and now they break the law endangering children until someone does then whine that a bridge would have saved them. No following the law would have saved them, not choosing to live in a remote area so that your community can be free that is rife with flooding would have saved them. Millions of dollars on a bridge that few would use is irresponsible.

cabq1340

This is a ridiculous waste of money, but you you can't fix stupid either in politicians who waste our tax dollars, or drivers who try to cross a flooded creek. The last 4 that lost their lives entered the creek in different places , so you still will not stop the stupid motorists who will try and cross elsewhere on the creek. Simple solution big signs saying * recently 8 people have died trying to cross this creek when in flood, would you like to be number 9. P.S. You will get a bill if we have to rescue you. It's your life and decision. Put them at every road that crosses the creek. The motorists can't say they haven't been warned.

cakeman

The use of God given common sense, and knowledge of the loss of life in the past, would save $18,000,000.00. Come on!

BIGFOOT

There has been no charges brought against Rawlings who admitted to going around the barriers! I bet if Rawlings was Black, Mexican, or NON white Mormon they would of been charged within a couple of days!!!!

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