FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Apache County
Supervisor Tom M. White Jr. urged the Arizona State
Transportation Board to fund more projects within Apache County District II during its monthly board meeting and public hearing held on May 20 at Flagstaff City Hall.
Supervisor White advocated for two projects that just completed their traffic studies within his county district, one project in Fort Defiance, Ariz. and the other in Ganado, Ariz. Traffic studies were completed thanks to a grant from the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration, and are now awaiting funding to begin.
White first thanked the transportation board for construction of State Hwy. 264 between Ganado and Window Rock, a dangerous stretch of road that he has been advocating for. He is happy to see it finally completed and he knows it will reduce fatalities.
“The road was really narrow,” he said. “I’m really glad they are making an effort to widen that highway.”
The first project White presented to the board is a two and a half mile stretch of road from the junction of N12 from the Conoco gas station to the turn off to Tséhootsooí Medical Center in Fort Defiance. Although the road is part of the road inventory for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), they have no money to improve it. White has taken it upon himself to help improve the stretch of road for his county constituents for their safety.
“A few years ago we received some funding and a traffic study was done in Fort Defiance,” he said. “We’re trying to get traffic lights from the intersection—solar street lights.”
He explained many roads on the Navajo Nation are in dire need of repairs.
The second project he presented to the board is a similar project in Ganado for the installation of solar street lights and a sidewalk on Hwy. 264 to also improve pedestrian safety.
“The sidewalks are very-much needed because they are used by school children who go to-and-from school daily,” he explained. “This particular highway is also prone to car accidents as well, especially during the winter season when highways become snow-packed and pedestrians end up walking on the highway because of the lack of sidewalks.”
He explained in winter months, snow plows push the snow onto the sides of the roads creating dangerous walk ways for pedestrians—mainly students.
Aside from the two proposals, he would also like to eventually see the two highways widened to four lanes and that is a future project he plans to advocate for.
Supervisor White and his staff continue to seek out opportunities for partnerships to get their projects funded and completed. He is hopeful the state will hear his plea for funding.
“We came out to advocate for funding just like everybody else did throughout the state,” said White. “We are out advocating for funding, and as elected officials, that’s what you have to do.”
White plans to continue working to get these projects funded. Until then, he continues his advocacy at all levels of government and strengthening partnerships to get projects completed within District II.
Tom M. White Jr. serves as county supervisor for Apache County District II in northeastern Arizona, he is currently serving his fifth four-year term. He is currently the vice chairman of the board and he was first elected in 1997. The board of supervisors are the governing body of the county, and they are represented by three supervisors for three county districts.