Work begins on Apache Trail: Tax-funded $3 million road improvements under way

Workers with Vincon LLC use a jumping jack device to prepare dirt to accept new cement curbs at West Apache Trail and Main Drive in downtown Apache Junction. Work to replace concrete curbs, ramps and gutters along the Trail between Meridian and Idaho roads began April 13 and is scheduled to be completed by May 8. On April 21, the Apache Junction City Council will consider whether to approve a proposal by a repaving contractor for further improvements to the same stretch of road, according to its agenda. (By Wendy Miller, Independent Newsmedia Inc. USA)

Workers with Vincon LLC use a jumping jack device to prepare dirt to accept new cement curbs at West Apache Trail and Main Drive in downtown Apache Junction. Work to replace concrete curbs, ramps and gutters along the Trail between Meridian and Idaho roads began April 13 and is scheduled to be completed by May 8. On April 21, the Apache Junction City Council will consider whether to approve a proposal by a repaving contractor for further improvements to the same stretch of road, according to its agenda. (By Wendy Miller, Independent Newsmedia Inc. USA)

Drivers traveling on West Apache Trail through downtown Apache Junction can expect a smoother ride by May 31.

That is when phase two of a two-part project to improve the thoroughfare’s sidewalks, curbs and roadway is expected to be completed, according to documents presented to the Apache Junction City Council for its April 7 and April 21 meetings.

During their regular session April 7, the council members voted unanimously to award a contract to Mesa-based Vincon LLC to provide concrete-related improvements to the Trail between Meridian and Idaho roads. The work includes the removal and replacement of 60 concrete curb returns and ramps and the removal and replacement of concrete curbs and gutters, according to the documents. The city will pay Vincon $221,815.25 for the concrete work, according to the documents. The council approved an additional 20 percent of that amount — $44,363.05 — for unforeseen change orders, for a total of $266,178.30, according to the documents.

Work on the concrete improvements began Monday, April 13.

“Woo-hoo! We’re starting,” Vice Mayor Robin Barker remarked right before the vote took place at the council meeting. Mayor John Insalaco and Councilman Chip Wilson also chimed in with woo-hoos, according to a video of the meeting.

The video may be viewed on the city’s website at https://apachejunction.legistar.com.

Financing the repairs
The vote and road work came after more than a year of researching how to pay for the road improvements. Historically, the funding for roads in Apache Junction came from Highway User Revenue Funds, according to a press release. HURF comes from the gas tax that is collected by the state and proportionately distributed to municipalities along with the revenue allocated to the city as part of the half-cent Pinal County sales tax, according to the release.

HURF funding plummeted during the recession with no drastic recovery anticipated anytime soon, according to the release. Additionally, the state legislature began sweeping HURF to balance their budgets, which left local municipalities struggling. Since 2007, HURF has decreased in Apache Junction from $7.3 million to $3.8 million, according to the release.

With diminished HURF monies, the city began researching ways to establish a supplemental revenue source to fix and maintain roadways, according to the release. The city does not have a property tax and as a result the majority of its budget is funded through sales tax, according to its website: www.ajcity.net.

The council on Dec. 2 approved a 10-year, .2 percent increase to its city sales tax to help fund improvements to local streets and roads city officials said are in dire need of repair. The sales tax increase went into effect March 1; it is expected to generate about $1 million annually to pay for road improvements, with repairs to Apache Trail, the city’s major thoroughfare, as its priority, according to information posted on the city’s website.

The Dec. 2 vote on the tax was not unanimous. Voting in favor of the tax were Mayor Insalaco, Vice Mayor Barker and council members Gail Evans, Dave Waldron and Mr. Wilson.

Voting against it were council members Christa Rizzi and Jeff Serdy.

Before voting against the tax at the Dec. 2 meeting, Councilman Serdy said there were still other funding options left to explore. He also said he felt the additional tax could hurt the local mom-and-pop businesses.
“They’re going to disappear. They give us personality,” he said at the Dec. 2 meeting.

Mayor Insalaco said during a phone interview April 16 the council’s vote in December reflected the input council members received during community meetings and conversations.

“You have to understand, the council and city staff worked like hell to bring this (road improvements) to the people,” Mayor Insalaco said during the interview. “All the neighborhood meetings we attended, we got feedback from the residents. It’s not something as a council we decided; about 90 percent of the city was for us raising the sales tax. To finally see the work finally being done, well, that’s great for the community. So far I haven’t heard any complaints.”

Repaving Apache Trail
At its regular meeting Tuesday, April 21, the council will consider whether to approve a $2 million-plus contract with Cutler Repaving Inc. for improvements to the Apache Trail roadway between Meridian and Idaho, according to the meeting agenda that can be viewed on the town’s website.

Cutler Repaving’s corporate office is in Lawrence, Kansas. Locally, it has an office at 1499 W. Moon Vista St. in Apache Junction, according to its website: www.cutlerrepaving.com.

The proposed contract for phase two road improvements includes the removal and replacement of 115,000 square yards of asphalt pavement; the replacement of 80 traffic detector loop locations; 90,225 linear feet of lane striping; the painting of 108 traffic symbols; and the adjustment of a total of 38 manholes, valves and survey monuments, as well as other pavement-related improvements, according to documents in the council’s April 21 meeting packet. The contract calls for work to be completed by May 31, according to the documents.

The council will vote whether to approve the Cutler contract for $1,949,086.83 plus 20 percent — or $389,817.39 — for unforeseen change orders, for a total of $2,338,904.33, according to the documents.
The vote is part of the April 21 consent agenda.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 21, in the council chambers at 300 E. Superstition Blvd.
Once work on Apache Trail is completed, improvements will begin on other roadways the city has included on its list of its top future road improvement projects, Mayor Insalaco said during the interview.

“We’re not going to do one street and stop,” he said.

According to an earlier interview with Bryant Powell, the city’s assistant city manager, the list of road improvements and their costs includes:

•Baseline Road: A 2.5-mile-long segment from Ironwood Drive to Winchester Road, $1 million.
•Broadway Road: A .5-mile-long segment from Old West Highway to Tomahawk Road, $500,000.
•Delaware Drive: A 1-mile-long segment from Broadway Road to Southern Avenue, starting at $500,000. The cost is to repave the road. It will increase if major improvements, such as added drainage, are included.
•Southern Avenue: A 2-mile-long segment from Meridian Road to Idaho Road, $500,000.
•Meridian Road: A 4-mile-long segment from Southern Avenue to McKellips, $1 million. This would be a joint project with Maricopa County, which would contribute an additional $1.1 million.

For more information, visit www.ajcity.net/fixapachetrail.

Reach staff writer Wendy Miller at wmiller@newszap.com

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