Road Runner

Road Runner: RTA eyes new round of bond funding for projects

2014-04-14T00:00:00Z 2014-04-14T10:07:50Z Road Runner: RTA eyes new round of bond funding for projectsJamar Younger Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The Regional Transportation Authority is looking to approve its next round of bond funding to pay for upcoming road projects.

The RTA board authorized its staff last month to research how much money it needs, which projects it can pursue, and other actions needed to move forward with its impending projects.

The agency is looking to issue between $125 million and $175 million in bonds.

This would be the second round of bonds.

The first round was issued in May 2011, when the RTA approved $150 million to help complete several projects, including the streetcar and several road projects.

There are a number of significant projects scheduled for designing, planning and construction within the next three fiscal years.

They include building a railroad overpass at Interstate 10 and Ina Road, a similar overpass at I-10 and Ruthrauff Road, the 22nd Street viaduct and various improvements to Silverbell, Tangerine, Grant and Houghton roads, as well as Broadway.

Also in the works are the next phases of the Downtown Links project, which will connect the Barraza-Aviation Parkway with I-10.

The cost for all those projects is expected to be about $180 million.

This next round of bonding is about cash flow and timing, RTA Deputy Director Jim DeGrood said.

The cost to reimburse local governments for previous projects is expected to exceed revenues for the next several years due to the start of new road projects and ongoing construction.

Sales tax money mostly comprises revenues.

In November, the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management released a report saying the RTA was facing a long-term projected deficit of $364 million over the 20-year life of the transportation plan.

But DeGrood said the next round of bond funding is not related to the long-term forecast.

“Not really,” he said. “It’s about the timing of the construction work, where to plan.”

RTA officials knew the agency would have to issue a new round of bonds this year.

“It’s still a good time to bond — interest rates are low and construction is well below capacity,” DeGrood said.

Streetcar testing

The streetcar will hit the streets near the University of Arizona for high-speed testing during the next three nights.

Testing will take place from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. tonight through Wednesday along East University Boulevard, between North Fourth Avenue and North Euclid Avenue.

As a result, parking will not be allowed on University between Fourth Avenue and Euclid, although vehicles with permits can park on nearby streets closest to their places of residence.

Side streets and alleys intersecting with University will also be closed during testing hours. Police officers will allow intermittent access to vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists.

Officers will help direct traffic and pedestrians during the testing.

This round of testing will complete the high-speed testing phase for four of the eight streetcars.

The last four streetcars will undergo the same testing throughout the remainder of spring and summer.

Send your Road Q questions by email to roadrunner@azstarnet.com or to 4850 S. Park Ave., Tucson, AZ 85714. Please include first and last names.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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