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County has obligated all stimulus funds for road projects

There are some recent news stories about Maricopa County and stimulus funds that are misleading and need to be clarified.

Recent reports state “officials in Maricopa County have failed to obligate nearly all of its $105 million in stimulus money for road projects.” The $105 million is the total provided for all 29 local governments in the Valley.

As one of those jurisdictions, Maricopa County received a $7.2 million share. The Maricopa County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) has two road-related projects to utilize that federal stimulus money: $750,000 for an improvement project on Bush Highway and $6.5 million for a countywide program of needed road-resurfacing projects.

Funding for the Bush Highway project was obligated on June 18, and project construction will begin on Oct. 5.

MCDOT is advancing the resurfacing project as fast as possible within the federal regulatory restraints, and we expect to obligate this project well before any federal deadlines.

It was stated that Maricopa County “will spend millions of that money on consultants to help meet federal deadlines.” MCDOT is well versed and experienced in federal road projects. About 2.5 percent of our project funding, approximately $165,000, will go to pay the consultant assigned to MCDOT by ADOT.

The federal process is complex and challenging. The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG), for its part, has recognized the need to get projects obligated before the March 2010 federal deadline and has established a Nov. 30 pre-deadline for MAG member agencies to obligate funds. At that time, MAG will institute some mid-course adjustments to ensure the region has projects that can be obligated on a timely basis.

MCDOT is also ready, if needed, with additional contingency projects should any other local governments face challenges in using their funds.

– John Hauskins is director of the Maricopa County Department of Transportation.

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