Gov. Doug Ducey sent a letter Jan. 8, to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao urging her to prioritize funding for the Tonto Creek Bridge in Gila County.
Tonto Basin, which is divided by the Tonto Creek, is a 1,500-resident community in Gila County. When the Tonto Creek floods, it blocks residents from accessing schools, healthcare and amenities.
In November, Austin Rawlings, of Peoria, and two other children were killed after their family’s vehicle became stranded in the creek during a time of high water.
“Residents need a bridge over Tonto Creek for basic safety and quality of life needs,” Ducey said in the letter.
“Since 1995 eight people have died while attempting to cross in their vehicles during high-water times.”
In Dec. 2019, President Donald Trump signed Fiscal Year 2020 spending bills that included $1 billion for the BUILD Grant program. In the letter, Ducey explained that the Tonto Bridge would be an excellent candidate that would benefit the Tonto Basin’s safety efforts, quality of life and economic competitiveness.
“The Arizona Department of Transportation stands ready to provide technical review and assistance to Gila County through its BUILD Grant application,” he said. “I look forward to offering my continued support.”