Scottsdale Shea Underpass Access project gets financial shot in the arm

Scottsdale City Council has approved a $248,779 capital budget transfer to cover the costs of the Shea Underpass Access Project as it was discovered Proposition 400 funds would not be available to finish the ongoing project.

In addition to the capital budget transfer, Scottsdale City Council has also entered into an intergovernmental agreement with the Maricopa Association of Governments to provide for project administration and reimbursement of eligible costs for completion of the Shea underpass project.

Scottsdale City Council unanimously approved both measures Jan. 23 at City Hall, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd.

“The Shea underpass access at 124th Street capital project, which is under construction, will provide a grade-separated bicycle, equestrian and pedestrian connection underneath Shea Boulevard approximately 300 feet east of 124th Street,” said Scottsdale Transportation Director Paul Basha in his report to council. “The project was first formally designed in the city of Scottsdale 2008 Transportation Master Plan, and subsequently was programmed as part of the fiscal year 2008-09 update to the ALCP.”

Allocations of ALCP revenue, or the Arterial Life Cycle Program of the Maricopa Association of Governments, are administered taxpayer dollars derived from Proposition 400, a .5 percent sales tax allocation dedicated to transportation projects. The ALCP revenue could not be programed by MAG because the city was not approved for usage of those funds in the proposed vein, records show.

The city was provided $1.25 million for a portion of the project, which carries an estimated cost of $2.8 million, but those dollars were earmarked for federal allocations meant for congestion mitigation and air quality, according to Mr. Basha.

“As the project progressed, the city contacted MAG to authorize funding for their portion of the project. MAG reviewed the project funding request and made the determination the Proposition 400 ALCP funding would not be applicable as the city had received additional funding from (congestion mitigation) grants,” he said. “MAG responded to the city in July 2017, that their recommendation was to remove all ALCP funding from the project.”

But the Scottsdale Transportation Department didn’t give up.

“The city was successful in negotiating with MAG a partial funding strategy that reinstated $428,412 of the original $677,191 that was programmed in the fiscal year 2017-18 Capital Improvement Plan,” Mr. Basha explained. “The city agreed to this funding and identified the trail improvements program capital project as the source of the funding to compensate for the $248,779 shortfall this created.”

The trail improvements program is meant to design and construct unpaved trails throughout the municipality and, the staff report states, the trails program could absorb the costs, which resulted in transportation department officials postponing the trails project prior to it fiscal year 2017-18 expenses materializing.

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