Construction could begin sometime next year on the building of a bridge in Gila County, Arizona that will span the rural Tonto Basin.
Residents attempting to cross the basin, which sometimes floods, have long petitioned state officials to have a bridge built, particularly after the drowning death of three children late last year.
Those children died when the vehicle they were in was swept away by the Tonto Creek’s powerful floodwaters. Two adults and several other children were able to get out of the vehicle in time.
Those deaths were added to another five people in the last two decades who had drowned trying to make it over what is called the Bar X Crossing, some 75 miles northeast of Phoenix.
Earlier this year, Arizona Department of Transportation officials said that while they wanted to see the structure built, there was not enough state funding for the project.
This spring, after Gila County officially submitted an application for funding, Arizona Senator Krysten Sinema wrote to the federal Department of Transportation, noting, “Heavy rainfall and snow melt frequently cause severe flooding on the Tonto Creek, limiting access to schools, jobs, and health care facilities.”
Now Arizona has secured up to $21 million in funding, money that is coming through the federal Department of Transportation’s Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development grants program.
Gila County officials are hoping that construction of the new bridge can be completed by 2023.
By Garry Boulard
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