by Adam Wolfe, Public Information Officer, Department of Administrative Services
The City of Maricopa continues to pursue its role as a leading economic development destination after the opening of the new overpass on State Route 347.
The arrival of permanent residents and visitors has continued to grow in Maricopa over the last decade, despite it being one of the hardest hit communities during the Great Recession. The City’s resiliency, often referred to as “Maricopa grit,” has shown through, and the community met a milestone 15 years in the making when the overpass opened to the public.
“I can’t even tell you the partnerships and the folks that you have to work with to make a project like this come to fruition,” Maricopa Mayor Christian Price proclaimed during the overpass grand opening. “It takes thousands upon thousands of hours to make this possible, and I want to thank everyone who made this possible.”
Since 2003, the City of Maricopa has been lobbying state and federal officials for the funding to build the overpass over the railroad tracks that run through the middle of town. These tracks would stop traffic multiple times a day and with the population increase across the community began to create a serious safety issue for daily commuters.
Despite being turned down on multiple occasions, the City Council never gave up on pursuing funding. Mayor Price traveled to Phoenix to visit state legislators at the Capitol and even traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with Maricopa’s federal representatives to see if they could help.
This effort eventually paid off as Maricopa received a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant from the Federal Highway Administration worth $15 million. This allowed the project to move forward.
When the grant was awarded in 2015, then-District 1 Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick stated, “This is a major breakthrough for a project that is needed more urgently now than ever. I am thrilled that Maricopa now has the resources to move forward.”
The persistence and leadership Maricopa staff and elected officials demonstrated during the bid process was so effective, cities around the state have begun emulating what is now called the “Maricopa Process.”
The impact of this project will reach well beyond transportation as the southern half of the city is now more accessible than ever. Shops, restaurants and hotels have already committed to coming to the southern side of the overpass, and both single and multifamily homes are expected as well.
The City that was nearly destroyed by the Great Recession has not only recovered but has become an economic development leader in south-central Arizona.
“Great transportation corridors are the key to great economic development,” Mayor Price said. “This will be transformational for our community.”