‘A chicken in every pot’: Politics and technology challenge transportation plans

I-10 near Casa Grande. / File photo

By Mike Sunnucks | Rose Law Group Reporter

Regional transportation planners and elected officials will ask the Arizona Legislature to put an extension of the half-cent Proposition 400 sales tax on the November 2022 ballot.

The tax raises $450 million a year for transportation projects in Maricopa County. The current tax runs out at the end of 2025.

Backers of the regional transport tax say they are in a bit a quandary of how to market and implement long-term projects.

They say voters like to see what projects are going to be funded and where. “There has to be a chicken in every pot,” said Mesa Mayor John Giles at a transportation forum hosted by commercial real estate group Valley Partnership.

That means showing equitable benefits for the East Valley, West Valley and other parts of the Phoenix region.

But Giles and Eric Anderson, executive director of the Maricopa Association of Governments, said transportation and technology have changed since Prop. 400 was approved in 2004.

Self-driving cars, the rise of Lyft and Uber, the rise of Tesla and electric cars have all happened since then along with millennials and others focusing on walkable, more urban communities.

Anderson and Giles said they know the political realities of having to outline what another sales tax extension will build. But they would also like to work some flexibility into transportation plans as technology and automation evolve.

The exact nature of the Prop. 400 still needs to be worked out including whether it is a straight extension, or the sales tax is extended and raised.

Anderson said state budget raids of highway funds and changes with how the federal government disperses makes regional revenue sources even more important, especially for the long-term.

“I take a lot of money to do these projects,” Anderson said.

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