With more than half-a-billion dollars of federal stimulus money expected to be earmarked for transportation projects in Arizona, state agencies and local governments are moving quickly to determine how to best put that money to use.
As much as $522 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act could be coming Arizona's way, according to Arizona Department of Transportation spokesman Matthew Burdick. As much as $200 million could be allocated separately for aviation and public transit projects.
Burdick said $157 million of the expected stimulus money would go directly to counties and municipalities, while about $350 million would be used for highway projects across the state. ADOT has a list of about $1 billion in proposed "shovel ready" highway projects, and over the next several weeks the department will finalize recommendations to the Arizona Transportation Board, which will decide which projects for which to use the stimulus money.
"What we'll be working on over the next couple of weeks is basically preparing recommendations to bring to the Transportation Board, and then they will have to determine the actual projects that will be funded through this program," Burdick said. "What it needs to have is it needs to basically be ready to go to construction, and what that means is … that you've met all the federal requirements."
According to a long-recognized formula, 37 percent of the federal money will be used for projects in Maricopa County, while another 13 percent will be used in Pima County. The remaining 50 percent will go toward highway projects in Arizona's other 13 counties.
Regional governments in Maricopa and Pima counties will also prioritize their lists of proposed projects to provide to the Transportation Board. Kelly Taft, a spokeswoman for the Maricopa Association of Governments, said the MAG is also categorizing projects based on which proposals have already met federal requirements and could be ready to start as soon as the stimulus money is received.
"Whether or not they can go in a hurry is really what they're looking at," she said.