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Message from the Chair

Transportation investments support our region's economic vitality

If you ask the question, “What does it cost to build one-mile of roadway?” the answer can vary based on a number of factors. Those factors include whether the road is built in an urban or rural environment, the type of terrain, the number of lanes, lane width, etc., according to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association. The cost to mill and resurface a 4-lane road, for example, is about $1.25 million per mile, a ballpark figure provided by the ARTBA. If you want a new 2-lane road, then the price goes up to $3 million to $5 million per mile in the urban area.

Whether you are fixing or building a road, it’s easy to see that it costs a lot of money. So where does all the money come from to pay for roads and why isn’t there enough money?

To answer the first question, the money comes from multiple sources, including the following examples:

  • Gasoline taxes (18 cents federal/18 cents state)
  • Vehicle license fees
  • Impact fees
  • Transportation sales taxes

While the half-cent sales tax collected by the Regional Transportation Authority to fund the 20-year RTA plan is collected and spent locally, other funds collected locally travel to the state and federal levels and through several decision-making bodies or distribution formulas to determine how much money comes back to our region to fund transportation.

The amount of money flowing out of the region does not always return at the same level. RTA funds, which are fully spent locally, help to fill this funding gap as well as other funding gaps that are created by the demands for new transportation infrastructure or system maintenance.

Growth in our region, whether steady growth or significant growth, the aging of infrastructure and trends in travel choices among consumers of all ages influence the level of demand.

Although actual project costs have been below project estimates in recent years, the price to build a road is on the upswing. All of these factors combined, plus economic downswings and more fuel efficient vehicles on our roads, contribute to the fact that not enough money is available to meet future transportation demands.

Pima Association of Governments’ 2045 Regional Mobility and Accessibility Plan shows that over the next 30 years,  our region has identified $17 billion in available funding to cover anticipated expenses for expanding or maintaining our transportation infrastructure. The same plan also identifies $15 billion worth of projects where no funding source has been identified.

Locally, PAG and the RTA continue to look for efficiencies in our process to streamline time and costs. This effort, though, will only fill a small portion of the gap. Other solutions to address this growing need are under discussion with our committees, such as our Economic Vitality Advisory Committee, and communicated through a PAG-generated white paper that looks at southern Arizona’s transportation funding options.

In the long term, our future will depend on continued business diversity in our region to ensure a vibrant economy that will attract new, high-paying employers and jobs. We need to support existing business expansion and explore transportation funding options, such as the locally funded RTA, to successfully address our growing transportation needs. 

Investing in the future of our transportation system begins with an understanding of all the elements that support a sound economy with healthy businesses, an educated workforce and self-sustaining jobs across our region. We are working together with our partners across the region to address issues by exploring options and developing solutions that will close these funding gaps and meet the transportation demands of tomorrow, both short-term and long-term. 

2017 PAG Chair Satish Hiremath
Mayor of Oro Valley

Do you drive alone?

More than 76 percent of commuters in the Tucson metropolitan area drove alone in 2015, according to a recent article published by the Arizona MAP Dashboard, which Pima Association of Governments is in partnership with to share regional data.

If you are among those who drive alone and are considering an alternative travel option, the Sun Rideshare program at Pima Association of Governments has a carpooling and vanpooling database to match you with other interested commuters. When you register in the Sun Rideshare database, you become eligible to earn rewards when you carpool, vanpool, ride the bus, bike or walk.

 

When you drive less, you save more. 
Not only do you save on commuter costs, but the use of alternative modes also leads to reduced congestion and vehicle emissions for improved air quality for you and your family.

 

For more information about the MAP Dashboard’s data-driven website showing indicator’s of our region’s progress, visit https://mapazdashboard.arizona.edu.

Member Profile

Mary Jacobs, Town Manager, Oro Valley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Served in this capacity since: September 2017

Professional background: I have over 23 years of experience in city management, with the last 17 serving the City of Sierra Vista, Ariz., as the assistant city manager, where I functioned as the organization’s chief operations officer. I also worked for the Town of Barnstable, Mass., on Cape Cod for six years in a similar role, and spent several years working in professional and managerial positions for Maricopa County just prior. I am a graduate of the University of Arizona, both for my BA and MPA.

Civic/Community Involvement: I currently serve as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for the State Supreme Court, a role that allows me to individually mentor and support foster children. I also volunteer for St. Vincent de Paul. In addition, I assist nonprofit organizations with strategic planning. As a new resident to Oro Valley, I look forward to expanding my reach in the community in the coming months.

Region’s most pressing issue in your opinion: Strengthening the regional economy is the most pressing thing affecting all area jurisdictions. We are only as strong as our weakest link. Bringing jobs to the region will eventually lead to lower unemployment, a lower poverty rate, and higher revenues for local governments to sustain and improve services to their communities. 

The work of PAG/RTA is crucial in helping to attract new businesses by ensuring the regional governments are working together toward shared goals. Each of the functions in which we participate weave together to provide a solid framework of transportation infrastructure, alternative transportation opportunities, and other efforts necessary to support the regional economic development organizations and communities working to put Pima County’s best foot forward.

Region’s best opportunity for economic success: Each of the jurisdictions in the region brings different strengths to the table when it comes to economic vitality. The key is knowing each of our strengths, and building upon them by working together to put our best foot forward. 

Whether an employer chooses Tucson, Marana, Sahuarita or Oro Valley, they bring jobs and corresponding revenue to support schools, infrastructure and local government services. Using the talents and strengths of regional organizations like PAG/RTA as well as Sun Corridor and others helps coalesce the efforts to attract and retain businesses by having a single vision so we can all work toward it.

What do you like best about what is currently happening at the regional level? PAG/RTA is committed to hearing other voices. As an example, the EVAC recently completed recommendations regarding workforce issues in the region, identifying aerospace as a sector that has great potential for future employment of our community’s young people. As part of the process, subject matter experts well beyond those represented in the PAG/RTA membership were included, leading to a robust evaluation
and set of recommendations. This approach is a solid way to get well rounded input to key issues facing the Pima County region.

Why is regional collaboration important to you? In an era of shrinking resources and low confidence in government, it is essential that governmental organizations look for ways to save money and improve efficiencies. Collaboration opens the door to conversation and partnerships, and helps to facilitate common ground among our respective organizations. There will never be enough resources to do everything that is desired, but prioritizing collectively through collaboration such as through PAG/RTA will help us focus on the most important actions and projects first.

What’s your No. 1 priority in your current role? While there are a lot of other initiatives I’m exploring and developing, I am especially committed to developing a long-term financial sustainability plan to support the continued delivery of quality services as well as ensuring infrastructure is built and maintained that meets the needs of the entire Oro Valley community well into the future.

Personal trivia: My father is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Arizona (College of Agriculture), where all seven of my parents’ children graduated with at least a bachelor’s degree.

 
Railway to greenway: Connecting people and places

green·way  /grēnwā/  noun. A strip of undeveloped land near an urban area, set aside for recreational use or environmental protection. 

In its heyday, the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad carried people and freight through southern Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Today, a section of abandoned railway in our region has a new purpose that is still bringing people and communities together. 

The El Paso and Southwestern Greenway, a project funded by the Regional Transportation Authority and others, is a classic model of cooperation among several jurisdictions in our region. Other project funders include the cities of Tucson and South Tucson and Pima County, along with federal grants. The RTA funds were approved by voters in 2006 as part of the RTA’s countywide half-cent sales tax to fund its 20-year regional transportation plan. 

The multi-use path follows three miles of the abandoned EP & SW railway, connecting the cities of Tucson and South Tucson and many historic neighborhoods along the way. When fully completed, the path will offer low stress access for pedestrians and bicyclists to get from downtown Tucson to South Tucson and the Kino Sports Complex. 

Pima Association of Governments Deputy Director Jim DeGrood said “This is a great opportunity to leverage our resources to deliver a project that greatly benefits multiple communities.”

The multi-use path follows three miles of the abandoned EP & SW railway, connecting the cities of Tucson and South Tucson and many historic neighborhoods along the way.  When fully completed, the path will offer low stress access for pedestrians and bicyclists to get from downtown Tucson to South Tucson and the Kino Sports Complex. Pima Association of Governments Deputy Director Jim DeGrood said “This is a great opportunity to leverage our resources to deliver a project that greatly benefits multiple communities."

The project is being constructed in phases. A section of greenway near Tucson Fire Central is already finished and provides a stunning preview of what is to come. Work on the next phase will begin in 2018, in conjunction with a new sewer main being constructed for the Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department. South Tucson City Planner Mick Jensen said, “The greenway takes what used to be a dirt-strewn, weed-filled chunk of land (and turns it) into something really beautiful and useful.”

EP & SW Greenway Overview Map

RTA refunds bond cash flow
 

The Regional Transportation Authority saved nearly $4.6 million with the refunding of its 2011 bonds. The bonds were reissued on Nov. 8 to take advantage of lower interest rates and capture the savings to apply toward upcoming RTA projects. The all-in total interest cost (TIC) of the new bonds was 1.83 percent.

In October, the RTA refunding bonds were affirmed with a “AA+” from Standards and Poor’s and a “AA” rating from Fitch Ratings, both with stable outlooks. 

RTA earns 'Best of Show' award for outreach
 

The Regional Transportation Authority has been recognized with an Impact Award and Best of Show award from the Southern Arizona Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) for its overall RTA outreach efforts in the past year. The award recognizes research, planning, implementation, evaluation and creativity in public relations. 

 

The winning team includes RTA Executive Director Farhad Moghimi, Communications Director Sheila Storm, Graphic Design Manager Philip Cyr, Sr. Communication Specialist Jenny Fiore, Outreach Coordinator Mindy Blake and Deputy Director Jim DeGrood.

 

How are technological advances impacting transportation planning and border trade? What might the landscape be for both in two, five, 20 years or beyond—especially as disruptive technology becomes the new norm? These questions formed the bedrock for a day of informative presentations and panel discussions for more than 250 attendees at the recent Borderlands Trade and Transportation Technologies Conference. PAG hosted the event Oct. 19, 2017, with its partners, including Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, Visit Tucson and the Arizona Council for Transportation Innovation. Special thanks to conference partners, to the gold sponsors, Tucson Electric Power and the University of Arizona Tech Parks Arizona, and to all other event sponsors.

 

 

The FY 2016-17 PAG Annual Report is now available online

 

FY 2016-17 PAG Annual Report

The PAG 2010-2015 Regional Transportation System Performance Assessment is now available online

PAG 2010-2015 Regional Transportation System Performance Assessment

 

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