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Arizona Governor Doug Ducey seeks US funding for bridge after kids die in creek

Tonto Creek generic
Posted at 6:12 PM, Jan 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-09 00:29:49-05

PHOENIX  — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is asking the federal government to provide money to build a bridge over a creek where three children died when a family member tried to drive through surging storm runoff last year.

A letter sent by Ducey to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on Wednesday said the Tonto Creek project in Gila County has been previously denied federal funding but is an “excellent candidate" for a federal grant.

Residents in Tonto Basin have long sought a bridge, but the lack of funding has kept it from becoming a reality. Officials say the bridge would cost an estimated $20 million.

Resident Randy Roberson hopes this is a turning point in the effort to find the money.

"If you look at it from the standpoint of, 'hey there's this guy named Randy down in Tonto Basin that says we need a bridge, to the vast majority of the people that means nothing," Roberson said. "If the Governor of the state is saying 'we need a bridge,' that means a lot more."

Gila County Officials say they've been applying for grant funding for the bridge for the past ten years. The County plans to include the Governor's letter when they apply, again, for the grant this Summer.

Residents are hopeful this is the year the money, somehow, becomes available.

Menlove told ABC15 the county has committed more than $3 million toward the project. That leaves roughly $17 million left. Once the money becomes available, Menlove says construction could start within six months.

Residents are hopeful this is the year the money, somehow, becomes available. "It's time," said Danny Peterson, who lives part-time in Tonto Basin. "It's time to put something across here where we can get across it safe."

Ducey's letter says the three children swept away on Nov. 29 were among eight people who have died while attempting to cross the creek in vehicles during high water since 1995.