SE Mesa a big focus in city’s $100M bond issue The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

SE Mesa a big focus in city’s $100M bond issue

SE Mesa a big focus in city’s $100M bond issue

By Jim Walsh, Tribune Staff Writer

A proposed Mesa bond issue before voters Nov. 3 would help turn farm fields into an auto mall, a major sports complex and residential neighborhoods in southeast Mesa.

Not all projects included in Question 1, a $100 million bond proposal, focus on Southeast Mesa.

Projects also include the reconstruction of a problem intersection at Stapley and University drives and the reconstruction of Broadway Road between Mesa Drive and Stapley.

But the bond issue’s focus is squarely on southeast Mesa, the city’s fastest-growing area as developers jostle for zoning approvals on previously overlooked land near the new Arizona 24, also known as the Gateway Freeway.

Mesa Mayor John Giles, Mesa Chamber of Commerce CEO Sally Harrison, ex-city manager Mike Hutchinson and other advocates are selling the bond issue as a necessary and modest investment in the future.

They note taxpayers will get a lot of bang for their buck, with $100 million bond issue growing by $62 million in regional reimbursements from Proposition 400, which returns sales tax revenue to Mesa.

Giles initially had reservations about seeking the bond approval during the recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But he quickly changed his mind after Councilman Kevin Thompson said a delay would place the city too far behind the growth curve in southeast Mesa, where many streets and road are inadequate.

“That was too good of a deal to walk away from,’’ Giles said, alluding to the $62 million in reimbursements being steered to Mesa by the Maricopa Association of Governments, a regional planning agency.

“This is going to be done over 20 years. It would have been shortsighted to say, because of the recession, we are not going forward,’’ Giles said. “The economy is going to recover. Hopefully, it will recover fairly quickly.’’

He said southeast Mesa has roads that do not connect to each other and Mesa needs to connect major arterial roads with Arizona 24.

At least three projects in the bond issue will create a variety of connections to the new freeway, which will run east from it’s northern terminus with Ray Road to Signal Butte, vastly improving the flow of traffic between Mesa and Queen Creek.

“It’s really a long-term play. If we don’t make plans now, we will be sorry later,’’ Giles said. “It will serve as a monument to government dysfunction if we don’t connect our streets’’ to the new freeway.

The burden on taxpayers is estimated at $18 per $100,000 of tax valuation, with the cost rising to $25.75 per $143,000 of tax valuation and $45 per $250,000 of tax valuation.

“We can support this ongoing investment in our city and leverage $62 million regional funds at the same time. It’s a fiscally responsible approach and a great return on investment that allows Mesa to continue to thrive and be an excellent place in which to live and do business,’’ Harrison wrote in her “pro’’ argument.

The bond issue appears to have no formal opposition. There are no “no’’ arguments filed for the election pamphlet.

Overall, the bond issue includes several critical projects, including the widening of Signal Butte Road into a major connector with Arizona 24.

Signal Butte would be four lanes between Williams Field and Pecos Roads, serving as a direct connection to State Route 24.

Another project aimed at reducing highway congestion would be the widening of Williams Field Road to six lanes as another connection to Arizona 24.

Eventually, this project would build a new entrance to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, a focus of Mesa’s efforts to attract additional high-paying jobs through the Skybridge project and other development.

Giles said another East Mesa project that likely would have a major impact on residents is the widening of Val Vista Drive between U.S. 60 and Pueblo, reducing traffic congestion in a busy area.

Val Vista would be three lanes in each direction between Southern Avenue and the freeway, with right turn lanes also added to improve traffic flow.

The least specific item on the bond issue calls for $20 million in reimbursed funds being devoted to the expansion to bicycle paths and trails, as funds are available.

Giles, an avid bicyclist, said the improvements are far enough off to keep the plan flexible, so that city officials can meet with residents and determine what improvements they would like.

Mesa has been gradually building a network of bicycle paths, with many of them along canals or the Salt River.

One prime example is along Rio Salado Parkway and the Salt, near Sloan Park and Mesa Riverview.

Bicycle paths and other alternative forms of transportation are historically popular with residents as a quality of life improvement. ′

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