PHOENIX — Victor Mendez, administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, notified Arizona Department of Transportation Director John Halikowski on Feb. 17 that, at this time, Interstate 15 will not be considered for a federal toll road pilot program.
Instead, the federal government selected North Carolina, Virginia and Missouri for the program that allows for tolling of existing roadways to support necessary improvements or reconstruction. Should one of those states drop from the program, the I-15 corridor may be reconsidered.
In Arizona, ADOT looked at the toll road program as one option for funding $250 million in necessary improvements to I-15. Despite investing $15 million over the past decade, and approving another $15 million project at Friday’s meeting of the State Transportation Board, the pavement and bridges on I-15 are nearing the end of their designed service life, placing pressure on ADOT to identify a funding source to rehabilitate the 29-mile-long corridor in the northwest corner of the state.
“ADOT has been vigilant and consistent in its maintenance of I-15, but the time has come for major investments to be made in this corridor,” Halikowski said. “Funding to keep highways and bridges in good repair is an issue in the long-term as we look at the transportation infrastructure around the state. These issues are most pressing on the I-15 corridor, which is such an important link for the nation, even if most Arizonans don’t use it.”
Arizona initiated discussions in 2011 with FHWA, Nevada and Utah to make them aware of the situation on I-15 and explore opportunities to identify a funding solution. Arizona is open to a multi-state approach to pay for the necessary rehabilitation of I-15. FHWA, Nevada DOT and Utah DOT have all completed assessments of the I-15 bridges in Arizona and concur with ADOT’s conclusions about the significant bridge needs. Arizona also has joined Nevada and Utah in a multi-state effort to coordinate long-range planning and seek funding for the I-15 corridor.