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Arizona Lawmakers Advance Bill To Fund Tonto Creek Bridge

Published: Wednesday, January 22, 2020 - 9:19am
Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services
David Cook

Rather than wait for the federal government to cough up the funds, some Arizona lawmakers voted Tuesday to spend state dollars on a bridge over Tonto Creek.

The Senate Appropriations Committee advanced a bill that would spend $15 million in state dollars to build a bridge the bridge.

The 8-1 vote followed emotional testimony from Gila County residents and grieving families. Four people drowned in two separate incidents in late 2019.

Gov. Doug Ducey sent a letter to the federal government earlier in January requesting funds to help pay from the bridge. But the federal government has routinely rejected past requests.

Ducey’s budget proposal doesn’t include any General Fund dollars to help pay for bridge construction over Tonto Creek.

Rep. David Cook, R-Globe, said he hopes Ducey’s request will help convince the federal government of the bridge’s necessity.

“What I hope that the governor’s doing, and I pray that the governor’s doing, is that not only did he send a letter to the federal government asking for funds for those, but in fact he’s on the phone calling Vice President Pence’s office, or the secretary for that Department of Transportation and saying ‘find me some money,’” Cook said.

Still, Cook supports spending state dollars on a bridge. He’s sponsored an identical bill in the House to help fast track the funds if necessary.

“I am concerned, because if we are putting it back in the hands of the federal government, expecting a different result from what has been tried and tried again, that’s the definition of insanity,” Cook said.