Highway Planning and the Arizona State Board of Transportation
The State Board of Transportation performs several duties that are essential to maintaining our state’s highway system. Board members are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate to serve staggered terms. Each Board member represents a specific district with membership rotated among the counties within each district. One of the primary responsibilities of the State Board is to develop and oversee the implementation of State’s Five-Year Transportation Facilities Construction Program. This involves determining which new routes should be built and which existing routes need to be upgraded or altered. To accomplish this, the Board awards construction contracts, monitors the progress of construction, and has the exclusive authority to issue revenue bonds to finance transportation projects. The Board also acts as an advisor to the Director of the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), currently John Halikowski.
The Board holds an official meeting, open to the public, each month. These meetings cover transportation financing, review of planning activities, modifications to the Five-Year Program, analysis of relevant national and state legislation and the awarding of construction contracts. In addition, the Board holds study sessions, also open to the public, when necessary to review information related to the Five-Year Program.
Earlier this week the State Board held a study session on long-term funding options for the statewide transportation system. Presenting at the study session were the Maricopa Association of Government (MAG), the Pima Association of Governments (PAG), Central Yavapai Metropolitan Planning Organization (CYMPO), and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. MAP, PAG and CYMPO are Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) which serve as transportation planning entities in their respective regions. At the study session, the MPOs provided an overview of their current revenues and anticipated gaps in funding. PAG cited a $12 billion (47%) funding gap for projected needs as the Southern Arizona region continues to grow over the next 30 years. MAG provided a menu of revenue options to help fill the projected funding gaps throughout the state. The Arizona Chamber provided a business perspective on why upgrading our transportation system is necessary for our economy to continue to advance.
As the State Board continues its work to plan and upgrade state highways, these study sessions will provide important input into the process. Careful prioritization of the most critical projects along with thorough consideration of all possible funding mechanisms will be necessary as we look to maximize our impact within a landscape of limited resources.