Lobbyists criticize Arizona's transit plans - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Lobbyists criticize Arizona's transit plans

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Posted: Friday, January 9, 2009 5:57 pm | Updated: 2:23 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

A lobbying organization thinks the Arizona Department of Transportation is heading down the wrong road.

State officials have compiled a list of projects that could be funded under a federal economic stimulus package, with an estimated total price tag of $1.2 billion. But the Arizona Public Interest Research Group thinks this list is too heavy on black asphalt with too few green alternatives.

"Arizona should be spending more on public transit, which not only would create more jobs, but would also reduce traffic, air pollution, and our dependence on oil," Arizona PIRG spokesman Alex Nelson said in a statement released Wednesday.

The criticism of ADOT was part of a larger effort by PIRG nationally to shift the emphasis toward transit and away from roads and highways.

PIRG examined the lists of transportation projects on which funds could be spent if made available from 18 states, including Arizona, constituting 56 percent of the U.S. population. The average state would spend more than 77 percent of funds on highways and only 17 percent on public transit or intercity rail.

Arizona has a highways-transit funding request ratio of $869 million to $8.5 million, making it one of seven states studied that were allocating 1 percent or less to transit.

PIRG also criticized Arizona and other states for their emphasis on the construction of new roads and highways, rather than the repair and improvement of what already exists. Nelson said the economic impact of maintenance is 9 percent greater than new construction, as much of the latter's costs stem from the acquisition of land.

ADOT officials did not immediately comment on the report.

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