On Jan. 8 Governor Doug Ducey sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation urging funding to be prioritized for the building of the Tonto Creek Bridge in Gila County.
Last November, three children were killed after their family’s vehicle became stranded in the creek during a flood. Two weeks after an elderly resident also drowned in the high waters of a Tonto Creek flood. Tonto Creek divides Tonto Basin, where 1,500 residents are often trapped for days when flooding occurs.
On Dec. 18, the governor reported that he would not commit to seek the $20 million needed to build the bridge. Saying that the state currently is in a financial position to be able to make “additional infrastructure investments.” These investments would include $130 million set aside to widen Interstate 17 north of Phoenix, not $20 million for the Tonto Creek Bridge.
But in a recent release, the governor states that he will now go to bat for Gila County. “Residents need a bridge over Tonto Creek for basic safety and quality of life needs,” Governor Ducey said in the letter.
Gila County Supervisor Tim Humphrey stated that it is his understanding that Sylvia Allen has a bill in the senate for the Tonto Creek Bridge, while Representative David Cook is working with costs on the bridge and has a bill in the house for the Tonto Creek Bridge. “I received a phone call from Governor Ducey’s office stating that he is writing a letter to the transportation department at the Federal level for funding for the Tonto Creek Bridge,” said Humphrey. “I am happy to see the State of Arizona get involved for the first time since I have been a Gila County District 2 Supervisor. I pray that in the end it will pull funding together for the Tonto Creek Bridge, rather than pull opportunity apart.”
Representative David Cook also commented on the Governor’s efforts. “I applaud Governor Ducey’s efforts to secure funding for Tonto Creek Bridge. While I’m hopeful the Governor’s letter results in funding, I have reservations given how long the county has requested federal assistance with this project. I will continue to move my legislation forward and believe the state legislature will be able to act in a more timely matter on this issue.”