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AZ Chamber of Commerce urging lawmakers to focus on transportation issues

PHOENIX — As the Valley and Arizona continue to bounce back and grow, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is urging the state’s leadership to keep a sharp eye on transportation.

It’s an issue that, if unaddressed before it becomes a problem, could severely disrupt the state’s business climate, according to Garrick Taylor, vice president of government affairs with the chamber.

“No economic developer wants his or her region to be known for bottlenecks and delays,” Taylor said.

In an effort to bring the issue to the forefront of some legislator’s minds and as a way to help devise solutions to problems the state might face with transportation, Taylor said the chamber has launched its Accelerate Arizona program.

“Accelerate Arizona is a new program within the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which along with our partners, will give us a chance to shine a spotlight on transportation’s importance to Arizona’s overall economic health,” he said.

Taylor said the chamber met with both sides of the aisle on Tuesday at a joint hearing of the state House and Senate Transportation Committees as the first official function of Accelerate Arizona.

The goal for the program is to study other states, programs and solutions that could feasibly be implemented in Arizona so that the state’s transportation stays in step with its growth, and then bring those ideas to lawmakers, Taylor said.

“We’ll be visiting with lawmakers, especially the new ones, so that they understand the challenges but also the opportunities that Arizona is facing in the transportation space,” he said.

Besides working with the legislature, Taylor said the chamber has confidence in Gov. Doug Ducey’s ability to realize the need for effective transportation policy and the vital role that will play in Arizona’s future.

“Gov. Ducey brings to the table business acumen, he understands the need to get products from market to consumer, and if Arizona is going to be characterized by bottlenecks and delays then that’s going to drag down our overall competitive standing,” he said. “We would expect that the administration is going to want to make transportation efficiency … a priority.”

Taylor said the chamber has no specific policy recommendations at this time and is only beginning its work in coming up with solutions, but Taylor did say that one of the first issues that he feels needs to be addressed is freight transportation in Arizona.

He said the state needs to work on it’s freight transportation, especially on I-10 and I-8, which are important connections to California markets, where improvements could help position the state as a major manufacturing and exporting hub.

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