Mark Cowling | Pinal Central

FLORENCE — Pinal County has applied for a federal grant of $301 million to build State Route 24 from Ironwood Drive to U.S. 60 southeast of Apache Junction.

The Board of Supervisors retroactively approved the grant application Wednesday.

David Coward of Gold Canyon told the board he didn’t see anything in the application to indicate the new road would be a designated truck route.

Pinal Public Works Director Andy Smith responded, “We do not designate the truck route, but we are in partnership with ADOT (Arizona Department of Transportation) and that will ultimately be done once the final facility is built to the freeway standards that ADOT wants. They will change the truck route.”

Vice Chairman Jeff Serdy, R-Apache Junction, asked how this grant would work with $15 million in the state budget for State Route 24.

“Unfortunately, the $15 million would only build some kind of interim facility,” Smith replied. The federal grant would provide “more of a total freeway system.”

Roberto Reveles of Gold Canyon said local officials and residents should thank the Arizona members of Congress who voted for the federal MEGA grant: Tom O’Halleran, Ann Kirkpatrick, Raul Grijalva, Ruben Gallego and Greg Stanton.

“Sadly, none of the Republican members of Arizona’s delegation voted to support this much-needed funding,” Reveles said.

The four-lane freeway would improve regional mobility, spur economic development and employment growth, and provide an alternative route to the congested arterials that connect this growing community of the East Valley to regional freeways, according to Pinal’s application for the federal grant.

“In this area of Pinal County, the transportation network relies primarily on arterial streets that no longer accommodate current traffic volumes,” the application continues. Recent traffic studies indicate most current arterials will be “overwhelmed before 2030” with a level-of-service grade of “F.”

“The first mile of State Route 24 from SR 202 to Ellsworth Road opened on May 4, 2014. The project was completed by ADOT in conjunction with the town of Queen Creek. An extension from Ellsworth Road to Ironwood Drive known as ‘Interim Phase 2’ is currently under construction and is expected to be open to the public later this year. Currently, ADOT has no funding identified for design or construction of State Route 24 to the east of Ironwood Drive,” the application says.

Pinal County Manager Leo Lew said other projects being considered in the new state budget include the widening of Interstate 10 from Chandler to Casa Grande, $400 million (also included in a separate bill); State Route 347 widening design from I-10 to the city of Maricopa, $19 million, and an overpass over Riggs Road, $11 million; pavement rehabilitation on U.S. 60 east of Apache Junction through Gold Canyon, $38.5 million; and $15 million to continue studies for a future north-south freeway.

“Please, for the public and the board members, thank our legislators and senators for their support,” Lew said.