AZCentral: Democrats seek $92 million for surface transportation projects across Arizona

Arizona could see $92 million in federal funds for proposed transportation projects ranging from improving dangerous intersections in Phoenix to adding pedestrian and bike space to roads in Tucson.

The plans, requested by Arizona's five U.S. House Democrats and included in a broad $547 billion surface transportation bill whose details were unveiled Monday, reflect the state's near-term infrastructural needs.

Each Democrat could each make about $20 million in project recommendations, though the final totals for each was left unclear because multiple members made similar recommendations in some cases.

None of Arizona's four House Republicans were listed as having submitted requests for member-designated projects, which were recommendations for where funds should be used.

That process is considered separate from earmarks, which Democrats brought back years after Republicans did away with after casting them as wasteful, pork-barrel spending.

The House plan, known as the INVEST in America Act, is part of the effort on Capitol Hill to move ahead on national infrastructural needs after a four-year stalemate between congressional Democrats and their GOP colleagues and former President Donald Trump.

While both parties generally agreed the nation needed to make investments in roads, airports and other projects, they could not agree on how to pay for it.

President Joe Biden has sought GOP support for an infrastructure boost on his watch, though Republicans have balked at the price and scope of what Democrats have pursued.

The surface transport bill would reauthorize $547 billion in federal funds over five years for projects across the country.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., who heads the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said the member-selected projects included transparency and reflected the priorities of local officials.

"Together, we can help give viable projects the funding they need to get across the finish line, one of many steps we can take to get moving on the backlog of badly-needed infrastructure projects located in every congressional district across the country," he said Monday in a written statement.

The committee is expected to move ahead with the measure later this week.

Rep. Greg Stanton, D-Ariz., a member of the Transportation Committee, had six projects included in the plan.

“As one of the fastest-growing states in the country, Arizona needs its fair share of federal resources to make sure our infrastructure can keep up with our population," Stanton said in a statement. "I fought to make sure key investments were included in the infrastructure bill that will make a difference in our communities — investments to expand public transit, build and repair roads on tribal lands, and improve road safety. These projects are good for Arizonans and good for our economy.”

Five projects came from Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., who is a member of the House Appropriations Committee.

“I am thrilled to learn that all of the Arizona regional projects we fought for are included in the Invest in America Act," she said in a written statement. "Both our rural and urban communities need and deserve these infrastructure investments; they focus on modernization, transportation access and the environment. We know this transformational bill will create good-paying jobs, and help our roads and communities become safer.”

Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., sought six projects, and Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., had six as well. Rep. Tom O'Halleran, D-Ariz., had submitted requests for nine projects, some of which overlapped with others.

“Southern Arizona is in dire need of the investments that will help repair our long-neglected infrastructure while providing countless good-paying jobs to those who need them,” Grijalva said in a statement. “From bridges and roads to public transportation and pedestrian pathways, I’m pleased to have secured $20 million for southern Arizona in this draft legislation. Investing in our infrastructure is a great way to creatively rebuild our communities and get people back to work, and I’ll keep fighting to get these projects past the finish line.”

“The Highline Canal Recreational Path project in Guadalupe and the Grand Canalscape trail project in Maryvale will improve recreational opportunities for underserved areas in my district," Gallego said in a statement. "The Flashing Yellow Arrow project in Glendale and the intersection improvements at six high-crash intersections in Phoenix — including the most dangerous intersection in the region — will improve safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and public transit users of all ages and abilities."

O'Halleran said northern Arizona needs the kind of work the proposed legislation could provide.

“In Arizona’s First District, the bus drivers taking our kids to school and the hardworking moms and dads heading to work are forced to travel some of the most dangerous roads in need of repair in our county," he said in a statement. "Traversing the First District myself, I’ve seen the infrastructure needs of communities across rural Arizona left on the backburner for years. I am pleased to see that four of our projects were included in the Invest in America Act and am hopeful that all can make it across the finish line and receive full funding.”

The proposed projects break down this way:

Cool pavement program, $3.2 million, Phoenix.
Downtown electric vehicle charging stations, $2.4 million, Phoenix.
Grand canalscape improvements Phase IV: 47th Avenue to Interstate 17, $5 million, Phoenix.
Intersection safety improvements at six high-crash locations in Phoenix $5.8 million, Phoenix.
56th Street roadway mobility and safety improvements, $5 million, Phoenix.
Interstate 10, Loop 202 to State Route 387, $5 million, Phoenix.

Other parts of the Valley
Flashing Yellow Arrow (FYA) Phase III, $800,000, Glendale.
Highline canal recreational path lighting replacement, $502,000, Guadalupe.
77th Street access improvements, $1.1 million, Scottsdale.
Kyrene Branch Canal shared use path, $1.8 million, Chandler.
Tempe/Mesa Streetcar Rio Salado east extension, $4 million, Tempe and Mesa.

Drexel Road extension and bridge project, $5 million, Tucson.
San Xavier Road pedestrian pathway project, $814,000, Tucson.
South Campbell Avenue complete streets project, $6.2 million, Tucson.
5th/6th Street complete streets project, $7 million, Tucson.
Sonoran Corridor Tier II EIS, $5 million, Tucson.
Tucson Regional North-South Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor, $6.5 million, Tucson.

Southern Arizona
Peters Road widening, $5 million, Casa Grande.
Pathway project, Baffert Drive to Nogales High School, $1.2 million, Nogales.
Chino Road extension Phase II, $2.1 million, Douglas.
Davis Road mileposts 5 and 13, $4 million, Tombstone and McNeal.

Northern Arizona
Electric bus infrastructure, $1.5 million, Flagstaff.
Lone Tree corridor, $8 million, Flagstaff.
US 89/Lake Powell Blvd roundabout, $5 million, Page