Thu, May 23

Locals fight for McGuireville interchange improvements sooner<br>than 2005

There’s a quiet movement going on in the Beaver Creek area to get the McGuireville interchange improved sooner than its scheduled construction date of 2005.

According to Lake Montezuma Property Owner’s Association official Bob MacDonald, locals are anxious to see the Arizona Department of Transportation step up the project.

MacDonald said the need for the improvement has been on the Beaver Creek Community Plan since 1990 and that the Exit 293 Interchange off Interstate 17 is dangerous and antiquated. The interstate feeds hundreds of cars daily to and from the Beaver Creek area that includes McGuireville, Rimrock and Lake Montezuma and the nearby community of Cornville.

According to Arizona Department of Transportation official George Wallace, the project involves rebuilding several hundred feet to the north of the current interchange and removing the loop ramps making them into a standard diamond configuration. He said that the conceptual report indicates that 2.6 acres of right of way will be needed affecting 12 parcels of undeveloped private land.

MacDonald has been in touch with Wallace, the manager of ADOT’s roadway study section, where he learned of a special program through ADOT that could expedite the project if some governing agency gets behind it.

Steve Schafer, who heads the special program called the Highway Extension and Expansion Program (HELP) said, "The program is intended to make available funds to put projects up in the program with various ways of repaying the loan."

Under HELP, the sponsoring entity must pay the interest until federal and state funds become available. Wallace clarified that it’s up to the local coalition to see if there is someone out there willing to make the project move up in the program.

Schafer said generally a governing body such as a city, county or a tribal entity would intercede. In this case, it could be Yavapai County or even a district ADOT office. The governing body would be responsible for the loan, which according to Schafer is "an advance loan, a tool to advance a project."

"We can make loans to ourselves to accelerate ADOT projects depending on talking with the district engineer as to where it falls in ratings with the rest of the state projects being done," he said.

Schafer said there are currently 10 loans through HELP outstanding throughout the state for a total of $170 million. He said the majority is on the Maricopa freeway system, but that there is a small loan out in Chino Valley and one near Pinetop.

MacDonald said the Lake Montezuma Property Owner’s Association is definitely behind the project and passed a resolution on the subject this summer. More than 100 residents have signed petitions.

"We want the project moved up, and we’ve received a letter of support from Chip Davis that he agreed with us," MacDonald said referring to the Yavapai County Supervisor.

An intersection project of this nature generally runs between $6 million and $12 million, according to Schafer.