Awarding of a bid for the Twin Peaks interchange project, which was delayed last week, could happen as soon as March 25, according to Mayor Ed Honea.
The award was delayed due to a discrepancy between two legal agreements about when the project’s contractor should receive payment. The Arizona Department of Transportation requires cash in hand before a bid can be awarded, but the Regional Transportation Authority — a major funding source of the project — has a policy to reimburse rather than giving money upfront.
To allow the bid to be awarded promptly, the town will deposit $15 million of its own money into the account, Honea said. He declined to say where the money would come from.
“We’re going to make a public statement on that eventually,” he said.
That decision came after the town council on Tuesday, March 17, authorized the mayor to “execute all documents necessary to facilitate the funding of the $15 million account.”
The next day, town officials met with RTA officials to try to come to an agreement, but no progress came from the meeting, according to Town Manager Gilbert Davidson.
“I don’t think we were able to have a finalized solution with ADOT and RTA and Marana,” Davidson said after the meeting. “We’ll have to go in a different direction to get the project back on track.”
According to Town Attorney Frank Cassidy, Marana officials believed RTA would put $15 million into a bank account before awarding the bid.
“Gilbert sent a letter Feb. 3 that was consistent with the town’s understanding,” Cassidy said. “We never heard anything back, so we had no reason to think they had a problem with our assumption of how it was going to be handled.”
In the 261 projects the RTA has approved, all have followed a reimbursement policy rather than putting money into an account in advance, said Jim DeGrood, RTA’s transportation services director.
Davidson wrote another letter to RTA dated March 13, in which he said the awarding of the bid had to be called off because the RTA hadn’t deposited the money.
In response, Gary G. Hayes, executive director of the RTA, wrote a letter dated March 16 that said, ”The disbursement of a lump sum of $15,000,000 deposit as you requested would require a significant policy change and can only be approved by the RTA board.”
Honea indicated that the delay has caused frustration for the town.
“That’s probably an understatement,” he said. “A lot of times, it’s really difficult when you have federal, state, RTA and town of Marana money and you’re trying to work on a project like this. The state has rules it requires, the RTA has rules, and those rules don’t work together. What we had to do was intervene temporarily, and I think it will be fine. We’ll put in the money temporarily and then eventually we will get it from the RTA.”
The Twin Peaks project aims to provide an easier way for residents to get from Interstate 10 to Dove Mountain. It should physically unite the growing Dove Mountain community with Continental Ranch, and provide easier access to Interstate 10. It would connect to upcoming widening and roadway improvements of Camino de Mañana, realigning the roadway north to the intersection of Tangerine Road and Dove Mountain Boulevard.
“My whole thing is to get this project under way,” Davidson said. “It’s such a huge and important project, not only for Marana but for the whole region. In this whole hard economic time, we need to get capital projects out the door and companies back to work.”