Arizona took a first step Thursday toward using private financing to build highways.
The Arizona Department of Transportation announced a proposal from a consortium of some of the nation’s largest highway construction companies to build the controversial South Mountain Freeway from Chandler to Laveen using private dollars, but not tolls.
The unsolicited proposal is the first under a reworked 2009 law allowing the state to team up with private investors to build or manage projects.
It’s not expected to be the last.
But Arizona’s entrance into the public- private arena of road-building is a gamble for all concerned. The private consortium, the South Mountain Development Group, likely has already invested millions of dollars, experts say. For ADOT, the South Mountain Freeway is the largest, most controversial and most critical project in the state.