PHOENIX – Last week Arizona Governor Doug Ducey made a formal request for federal funds in order to fund a bridge over a dangerous creek near Lake Roosevelt.
On Jan. 8, Ducey sent a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao asking her to “prioritize funding” towards a bridge over the Bar X crossing in Gila County.
According to a release from the governor's office, the creek divides a community of 1,500 residents and separates them from a number of necessities including school and healthcare.
The issue received a wide amount of interest following a tragedy over the holidays last year when a family attempting to ford the creek during rising flood waters was swept away, causing the death of three children between 5 and 6 years old.
Following the incident, Arizona Lawmakers proposed setting aside $20 million dollars in order to build a bridge over the crossing. Efforts had been made before but the county is unable to afford a project of that magnitude and requests for federal dollars in the past have met with no success. Ducey has been seemingly reluctant to have the state foot the bill as he, thus far, has not chosen to commit to those funds and instead issued this request for federal funding.
“Residents need a bridge over Tonto Creek for basic safety and quality of life needs,” Ducey said in his letter to Chao. “Since 1995, eight people have died while attempting to cross in their vehicles during high-water times; three children lost their lives while crossing in a vehicle the day after Thanksgiving less than two months ago.”
In the press release, Ducey seems keen to target $1 billion dollars in funds from the BUILD Grant program that was part of the 2020 fiscal year spending bills signed by President Trump in December.
“The Arizona Department of Transportation stands ready to provide technical review and assistance to Gila County through its BUILD Grant application,” Ducey said. “I look forward to offering my continued support.”