JIM SHARPE

Paving (my) way for the future of the Arizona Department of Transportation

Feb 13, 2024, 11:15 AM

After the federal government tried to limit what the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) can put on overhead freeway signs (nothing fun, people!), we are now seeing state legislators trying to limit what ADOT can and can’t do — and it’s a lot bigger than cutesy highway signs.

These limitations are being introduced in such a way that critics claim they’re holding ADOT’s very existence hostage — while also committing train robbery (if that’s what you call the state being denied rail service between Phoenix and Tucson).

The state Senate Committee on Transportation, Technology and Missing Children (a strange committee mix, if you ask me) just gave its approval to a bill that continues the existence of the state Department of Transportation — which would go away July 1 without the legislature’s and the governor’s approval. But that committee only did so after GOP lawmakers added conditions and restrictions on what ADOT’s mission is to be going forward.

One proposal states that ADOT cannot accept any federal funds to operate or maintain a commuter rail — like the one that’s been talked about between the Valley and the Old Pueblo for years.

The bill, in its current form, also forbids ADOT from: building electric vehicle charging stations; reducing the number of lanes on any state roads; proposing any plan that aims to reduce carbon greenhouse gasses; and adopting a motor vehicle “travel mile reduction plan.”

Gov. Katie Hobbs’ office says the legislature needs to put the brakes on this bill. 

Christian Slater (Hobbs’ press aide — not the ‘90s actor) told Capitol Media Services, “Politicizing ADOT’s continuation is a non-starter… Arizonans want sanity, not chaos that threatens the agency that builds roads, bridges and critical infrastructure they rely on to get around safely each and every day.”

But if it comes down to the wire, and Hobbs wants to keep ADOT’s engine running, she may have no choice but to sign that bill with all those restrictions.

I think that these Republican legislators are on the right track with a couple of their ADOT limitations — but are veering way off the road on others, so if they want my support (and who doesn’t?), they are going to need to also make ADOT:

  • Create a driving test that reduces the number of idiots we have to share the road with.
  • Reject the use of out-of-state drivers licenses held by people in their late 100s.
  • Put a fast food restaurant — with a bathroom — on Hwy 89 between Flagstaff and Page (the town where I graduated high school). Once you get past Cameron, there’s nothing out there — and I don’t think most legislators have any idea how embarrassing it is to knock on the door of random Navajo folks and ask to use their facilities.

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Jim Sharpe

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Paving (my) way for the future of the Arizona Department of Transportation