7/3/2013 7:45:00 AM Column: ADOT bridges up to the challenge, but long-term fix is needed
Matt Hinshaw/Daily Courier/Courtesy
Vehicles drive over Hell Canyon bridge March 21 north of Paulden.
By John Halikowski Director Arizona Department of Transportation
Good weather, strong historical investment and relatively new infrastructure all contribute to the high rating of the Arizona Department of Transportation's bridges across the state.
That rating, however, is threatened by the long-term funding outlook and the state's ability to address the pressing transportation needs across Arizona.
With a $350 million shortfall in the current five-year construction program, our ability to keep pace with the needs is jeopardized.
The Hell Canyon Bridge is a good example. While that bridge is safe, it needed critical repairs and is now scheduled for replacement in 2015. We cannot wait for issues to emerge before taking action to replace a bridge or repair a section of roadway.
Yet with our current financial situation, we are forced to react to the needs of the system rather than leading in our efforts to preserve our investment.
The current way we pay for transportation projects - relying on gasoline taxes - will not meet our needs into the future. Already, the Federal Highway Trust Fund is insolvent and Federal General Fund dollars are diverted to support the highway fund.
This is where members of the community need to become engaged, to seek solutions and advocate for changes to an outdated system of revenue generation to support our critical infrastructure.
ADOT has been meeting with local leaders and legislators from across the state to illustrate the problem - and begin developing a sense of urgency toward necessary infrastructure investment.
When our infrastructure breaks down, we all are affected personally and economically. The mining operations that had been using the Hell Canyon Bridge are a good example; their business has been dramatically impacted by the weight restrictions now in place on the bridge.
Arizona's highways and bridges are vital aspects to our economic success. Without the ability to easily move people, goods and the elements of commerce across the state effectively and safely, Arizona will only sink economically.
In the case of the Hell Canyon Bridge, that also means ADOT needs to analyze the surrounding commercial needs to ensure that our infrastructure is up to the challenge, such as being able to facilitate the passage of overweight or oversize truckloads.
The Hell Canyon Bridge is safe and will soon be modernized to meet today's traffic needs. But this bridge is evidence of a larger funding problem ADOT is facing that requires community leadership and innovation to solve.
Posted: Wednesday, July 3, 2013
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JUST GOES TO SHOW THEY NEED TO PAVE THE ROAD FROM SELIGMAN TO OUTTER LOOP RD.