By Grande Living
Maricopa Mayor Nancy Smith didn’t reach her current role through an election, but she didn’t face a big learning curve. Once the City Council unanimously voted to tap Smith, who had been a Council member since 2014, to take the mayor’s gavel in August following the resignation of Christian Price, she jumped to the forefront of the battle to get state Route 347 widened to six lanes for the 13 miles it spans between the city and Interstate 10.
She didn’t miss a beat when voters rejected Pinal County’s Proposition 469, which would have funded that and other road projects, and she’s excited that the road’s design is expected to start this year. “Once the design is done, we will be all ready to go so that when we do find that $300 million to $400 million, everything’s ready to go, put the bids out, let’s get started,” she said. “So I think it’s encouraging for us to know we have some irons in the fire and we’re making small improvements.”
Those could include changing some intersections to improve traffic flow and increased safety enforcement from the state Department of Public Safety, which could release a report about its recommendations in April or May. Maricopa is more than just the sum of how many lanes the highway has to ferry residents to and from jobs. Smith is overseeing the city’s expansion into being more than a bedroom community as construction starts on a new emergency room/hospital. Other uses on what had been part of Copper Sky Regional Park are being considered, as well as how to market municipally owned land on Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway with the goal of attracting a major employer.