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2020 Census: Don't throw Arizona's money away

When we walk down a sidewalk or through a parking lot, we sometimes spot loose coins or cash. Unknowingly, someone let this money slip through their fingers or through their pockets to the ground. It’s almost like throwing money away. Someone else will come along and pick it up.

You can view your participation in the 2020 Census in a similar fashion. If you do not fill out your 2020 census form early next year for one reason or another, you may unknowingly be “throwing” Arizona’s money away to another state.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, states, counties and communities annually receive a piece of $675 billion in federal dollars to go toward schools, hospitals, roads, public works and other vital programs. The better a state’s count, including hard-to-count populations, the bigger piece of the funding pie that a state is likely to receive. State programs dependent on this money include: Medicaid, Medicare Part B, Highway Planning and Construction, National School Lunch Program, Low Income Home Energy Assistance, Health Care Programs, and more.

Fair funding levels depend on an accurate census count. For the 2010 Census, the U.S. Census Bureau reported a nationwide 74 percent total response rate. Is there room for improvement? Yes! Is it likely that it would reach 100 percent? Probably not. But any improvement in response rates is better than none.

In nearly a year from now, you will receive a notice to complete your 2020 census form. The form can be completed over your phone, via a computer or a hard copy that can be mailed. In fact, everyone’s participation in the decennial census is mandated by Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution.

Most importantly, completing the form and submitting it will translate into real dollars gained or real dollars lost for our region.

Pima County and local communities are mobilizing to share this important message as well. They understand the importance of our region and our state receiving adequate program funding to help those in need and to continue programs and jobs to deliver those services.

Please take the Count me in! pledge at www.PAGregion.com/census to show your commitment in sharing the message with people you know and make a knowing decision to complete your form no later than April 1, 2020. Let’s do our part to keep Arizona’s rightful money and get a little bit more.

Voices: Bring your comments to three transportation open houses in March

Regional transportation projects in the upcoming five-year horizon will be presented during three open houses in March. Pima Association of Governments’ transportation improvement program (TIP) identifies priorities for federal, state and local roadways, transit services and aviation projects and for programs such as ride sharing, vanpooling and pedestrian safety. Major projects in the proposed TIP include:

  • Construction of a new traffic interchange at Interstate 10 and Ruthrauff Road, and widening of Interstate 10 between Ina and Ruthrauff roads
  • Construction of the Downtown Links project
  • Widening of Grant Road, from Oracle Road to Swan Road

Public input is an important part of the transportation planning process and you can review and comment on the draft FY 2020-24 TIP at one of the following locations:

4-6 p.m., Tuesday, March 26
Randolph Golf Complex
Copper Room 600 S. Alvernon Way, Tucson
Accessible by Sun Tran Route

4-6 p.m., Wednesday, March 27
Wheeler Taft Abbett Library
7800 N. Schisler Drive, Tucson

10 a.m. to noon, Friday, March 29
Joyner-Green Valley Library
Large Activity Room
601 N. La Canada Drive, Green Valley

The draft FY 2020-24 TIP may be viewed online starting March 26 at www.PAGregion.com or www.PAGregion.com/TIP.

Si necesita ayuda con traducción, llame por favor al 792-1093 y comuníquese con Nathan Barrett.

Profile: Joseph C. Winfield,
Mayor Town of Oro Valley

Served in this capacity since: Nov. 7, 2018

Professional background: Landscape architect

Civic/Community Involvement: Boy Scout Leader, HOA President, Town of Oro Valley Trails Task Force Chair, Town of Oro Valley General Plan Committee Member (2006 & 2016), Vice Chair Parks and Recreation Advisory Board

Region’s most pressing issue in your opinion: Water and climate change

Region’s best opportunity for economic success: Trade and a diverse economy

What do you like best about what is currently happening at the regional level? Increasing synergy between education and business

Why is regional collaboration important to you? Because we can accomplish more working together than we can working independently.

What’s your No. 1 priority in your current role? Public safety. I believe public safety is a fundamental purpose of local government. Our residents have a high regard and expectation for public safety. Our focus on community safety and low crime benefits residents, visitors and businesses.

Personal trivia: In 1984-85, I designed a 3-acre urban park for the Martin Luther King National Historic Site in Atlanta and made a presentation to Coretta Scott King and her staff.

 

On February 1, PAG hosted a day-long teen leadership summit for youth attending high schools throughout Pima County. Nearly 200 teens signed up for the event, which offered dozens of career resource exhibits, a motivational speaker who helps teens take an active role in authoring their destinies, and career roundtable discussions with local leaders from all branches of the armed forces and nearly 50 different professions. Participating teens also worked together for a hands-on transportation planning activity led by graduate students in transportation engineering from the University of Arizona. Armed with a transportation planning toolkit, they proposed plans to address a real-life traffic circulation issue at a local elementary school. 

 

RTA News: Kolb/Valencia project at halfway mark

One recent Tuesday morning, the project team that is reconstructing the Kolb/Valencia roads intersection met in a trailer at the site to go over progress made and what needs to be done. It was an upbeat meeting. There was a sense of pride and determination in the room. After all, the Regional Transportation Authority plan project is on schedule, within budget and, when completed, promises to make a big difference for regional commuters who use the intersection.

City of Tucson Project Manager Blake Richards says, “Things are going well. We started about six months ago, so we’re halfway through the 12-month project and looking forward to completion in the summer.”

The intersection and approaches will look very different when the project is done. Valencia Road, roughly one mile east and west of Kolb Road, will be wider for one thing. Improvements include bike lanes, sidewalks, drainage structures, lighting and landscaping.

The main feature of this RTA plan project will be a parkway-at-grade (PAGI) intersection to ease congestion and move vehicles more efficiently. The intersection will have ramps in place of left turns, as well as indirect left turns (U-turns). The design eliminates all left turns in the intersection to keep traffic moving.

"The signals at the intersection will be timed to make it as efficient as possible and it should operate a lot better than it had in the past,” said Richards. Once the new ramps are constructed, traffic soon will be routed there while crews work on the intersection. “Putting vehicles on those ramps will help to accelerate the construction schedule,” Richards said.

If you drive the Kolb/Valencia area, you know it is one of the busiest intersections in the region. The improvements will enhance your experience as well as transportation for Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, the Port of Tucson, Amazon and several other businesses that use the corridor.

 

Cost, quality, time factor into contractor selection for regional transportation projects

When it comes to the method for selecting a contractor on a Regional Transportation Authority job, one size does not fit all. State law determines how RTA projects may be bid, but there are options within the law. “Historically, low bid was the way to go, but there are times when conditions are not fully understood, and we need a contractor that can adapt to unknown conditions,” says Regional Transportation Authority Executive Director Farhad Moghimi.

Things have changed. Jurisdictions, which manage RTA projects, now are allowed to select the most qualified contractor for a job. Contracting techniques include the traditional design-bid-build, design build, construction manager at risk, job order contracting, and the more innovative cost plus time.

So, how do jurisdictions decide which contracting method to use? Pima Association of Governments Deputy Director Jim DeGrood says, “You have to look at the complexity and the nature of the project, the risks and your capabilities when deciding what type of process to use.” 

Design-bid-build is the most common construction delivery method in our region. That’s when the owner (jurisdiction) has a design with clear specifications and drawings that potential contractors view, so they can determine what it would cost to do the job. It is a competitive process, where the lowest responsible bidder is awarded the contract.

Design build combines both design and construction. The owner says, “This is my budget. Here is what I want. What can you give me?” Contractors assemble teams and submit proposals that must come within budget. Design builders are selected based on qualifications. This approach eliminates the bidding process but caps the cost at the budget amount.

And then there is the CMAR, construction manager at risk project delivery method. “With a CMAR, you get the contractor on board at a point where they can help the design team make design decisions and work with the engineer to refine the plans to bring down the cost,” says DeGrood. The CMAR process is an open book. “The contractor has to show the owner where they are spending the money, how much it costs and how the labor breaks down.” The project has a guaranteed maximum price, and if the project goes over, the contractor assumes that risk. 

Another contracting method is cost plus time, or A + B. This method can deliver quickly and can be used on large projects. Contractors submit bids for the actual job cost and for the time it takes to complete the project. This technique is useful when driver inconvenience and delays absolutely must be held to a minimum. 

For smaller projects, job order contracting may be the way to go. Job order contracts are usually multi-year agreements with pre-qualified contractors who have fixed prices for certain projects. This type of contracting is typically used for RTA-funded signalized pedestrian crossings and bus pullouts. 

The world of transportation construction contracting is complex, to be sure. It is a delicate balance of cost, quality and time. We have only so much money to spend. That’s why the way we invest our dollars now is important for our transportation future. 

 
 

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