This summer, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) will develop a statewide network of electric vehicle charging stations. The state anticipates receiving $76.5 million in federal dollars for the project, funding courtesy of the $5 billion set aside for states through the Biden administration’s National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program.
ADOT announced the plans in a press release last Thursday. The initial roadmap for electric vehicle charging stations follows along the international highways running through the state, or “federally-designated corridors”: the I-8, I-10, I-17, and I-40. There’s also a proposed charging corridor for the I-19 connecting Mexico and Tucson.
At present, ADOT is seeking public input and plans to submit an initial plan in August.
On Thursday, the Biden administration announced new standards for the NEVI Formula Program. They said that the need for the standards arose from concerns over electric vehicles’ limited range on a full charge, what they called “range anxiety,” and the possibility of few and far between charging stations, or “vehicle charging deserts.”
Arizona officials are moving ahead despite widespread bipartisan concern that only the wealthy can afford to buy electric. That’s reflected further by past recipients of tax credits for electric vehicles: nearly 80 percent were those making over $100,000.
Additionally, critics point out that tax credits aren’t immediate relief but function to alleviate the additional financial burden on the back end. Bloombergestimated in March that less than 15 percent of Americans could afford to buy electric.
On the low or “mainstream” end, new electric cars cost between $27,000 and $32,000. Those more affordable models come with a lower range: about 150 to just under 230 miles for the cheapest option, and just under 260 for the high end.
Luxury models with higher ranges cost much more. The low end just under $47,000 comes with a range of just over 270 miles to just under 360 miles. The highest range of just over 400 to 520 miles comes with a $77,400 price tag — a down payment of about $15,500. The 2020 census reported that the median household income in Arizona is about $61,500.
By contrast, gas vehicles cover the same distance as high-end luxury electric models at a much cheaper cost than low-end mainstream electric cars. At just over $20,600, the Nissan Sentra can travel just over 400 miles on one tank. That’s about $5,000 more than the average down payment needed for an electric vehicle of comparable range — the Nissan Sentra down payment would be over $4,100.
There’s even challenges to the claims of electric vehicles’ range. Forbes reported that multiple years of road testing electric vehicles showed that marketed range fell short of actual range — an average of 20 percent less.
Arizonans’ buying power falls further in light of the reality that the median income will cover increasingly less. Arizona families are paying over $500 more a month in household costs due to inflation. In Phoenix, inflation spiked recently to 11 percent.
Yet, major cities are launching their own electric vehicle infrastructure initiatives as well. In addition to ADOT, the city of Phoenix announced last month its draft roadmap for widespread electric vehicle use. Phoenix leadership anticipated that up to 280,000 electric vehicles would be in the area within the next decade. Part of their initiative includes switching city vehicles to electric, establishing electric vehicle charging stations for the city and its employees, and updating the zoning ordinance and building codes by 2025 to standardize electric vehicle charging access.
Additionally, Tucson City Council enacted a policy last summer requiring electric vehicle charging outlets on all new constructions of one- and two-family dwellings. The city is now attempting to enact a similar requirement for apartments and commercial development. The community is embroiled in controversy over city leadership’s efforts.
Their state senator, Minority Whip Victoria Steele, attempted to pass similar legislation this session. That bill never made it to the Senate floor for a final vote, though it did pass out of committee.
During a State Senate briefing on Tuesday, True the Vote — the election integrity nonprofit behind the research for election fraud documentary “2000 Mules” — recommended Arizona clean up its voter rolls. Just several days before, Governor Doug Ducey vetoed a bill purging non-citizens and non-Arizonans from voter rolls.
The election integrity researchers also proposed an end to the mass mailing of ballots and drop boxes, as well as an increase in penalties for voter fraud. If ending the use of all drop boxes wasn’t feasible, the researchers proposed real-time video surveillance.
The bill vetoed by Ducey, HB2617, received support from House and Senate Republicans. It would’ve required the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) to submit information to the secretary of state every month regarding driver’s license or non-operating licenses issued in other states. Within 10 days, the secretary of state would then submit that information to the relevant county recorders to purge their voter rolls.
HB2617 would’ve also required the county recorder to compare their voter registration database to the Social Security Administration database on a monthly basis. Additionally, the secretary of state would’ve been required to report to the state legislature on a quarterly basis the death counts and voter registration cancellation notices issued to county recorders. Jury commissioners and managers would’ve been required to inform the secretary of state and their county recorder about individuals who indicated they weren’t U.S. citizens or living within the county.
The House and Senate may override Ducey’s veto with a two-thirds vote.
Ducey’s spokesman, C.J. Karamargin, said that the bill sponsor, State Representative Joseph Chaplik (R-Scottsdale), “knows” why Ducey vetoed the bill. Karamargin didn’t elaborate further.
In an explanatory letter, Ducey shared a concern that the legislation lacked due process for voters whose eligibility may be challenged, and that bad actors would capitalize on that aspect of the bill.
He criticized the bill’s implementation method as “vague” and lacking guidance for county recorders to execute properly. Ducey further criticized the residency determination provisions within the bill as subjective and lacking protections against false claims of non-residency.
Ducey didn’t object to the bill in its entirety. He commended the provisions directing ADOT, the secretary of state, and county recorders to communicate on proof of out-of-state licenses, new addresses, and non-citizenship.
Arizona Free Enterprise Club Vice President Aimee Yentes disagreed with Ducey’s concerns that the bill lacked due process for voters and that it would empower bad actors. However, Yentes expressed hope that they could work with Chaplik to bring a modified version of the bill more palatable to Ducey.
“This is a multi-pronged endeavor. You don’t fix all the numerous issues we have with election processes overnight or in just one session,” said Yentes.
On Monday, the Arizona Senate passed HB2617 to require county recorders to cancel voter registrations for individuals who are proven to not be qualified electors, such as those who aren’t U.S. citizens and those who have a driver’s license or other non-operating license in another state. The bill passed along party lines, 16-13. Since HB2617 was amended in the Senate, it will be reviewed by the House before it’s passed on to Governor Doug Ducey.
In further detail, HB2617 will require the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) every month to submit information regarding who’s been issued a driver’s license or non-operating license in another state to the secretary of state. Then within 10 days, the secretary of state will also be required to furnish county recorders with a list of registered voters for their county that were issued a driver’s license or a non-operating ID license in another state.
Additionally, HB2617 requires the county recorder to compare their voter registration database to the Social Security Administration database on a monthly basis. In the event an individual doesn’t provide satisfactory proof of citizenship, county recorders must compare their file to the Electronic Verification of Vital Events System.
Furthermore, the secretary of state will be required to report the number of deaths and number of voter registration cancellation notices issued to county recorders to the state legislature on a quarterly basis. Jury commissioners and managers must also forward information about individuals who indicate they’re not a U.S. citizen or reside outside of the county to the secretary of state and county recorder.
Prior to canceling the voter registration of the person in question, county recorders must submit notice to the individual and give them 90 days to provide evidence that they’re qualified to vote in Arizona. If the person doesn’t respond with satisfactory evidence within 90 days, each individual case may be referred to the county attorney or attorney general for further investigation.
Progress Arizona, a progressive activist nonprofit, argued that the legislation would “harm vulnerable communities,” calling it an “unnecessary barrier to vote.”
House Republicans insisted that the legislation, sponsored by State Representative Joseph Chaplik (R-Scottsdale) would ensure that those who didn’t belong on the voter rolls would be purged.
Some business leaders have dreamt for years of an interstate that would traverse Arizona, providing a better connection for international trade through Nogales to Phoenix and Las Vegas, and in the process providing a north-south route between Canada and Mexico.
Las Vegas and Phoenix are the only two cities with population of more than 1 million residents which are not linked by a direct interstate route. That dream of new opportunities for trade, commerce, job growth, and economic competitiveness took a leap forward Tuesday when the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) announced its preferred route for the state’s portion of Interstate 11 as it would be known.
Officially called the “Record of Decision and Final Preliminary Section 4(f) Evaluation,” the report released Nov. 16 was prepared by ADOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act. It represents the final step in the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement process, culminating five years of study, technical analysis, and stakeholder input.
The Record of Decision also includes proposed corridor, or route, for the 280 miles of I-11 that would run between Nogales and Wickenburg utilizing new and existing roadways. Another 200 miles of what is currently U.S. Highway 93 from Wickenburg to the Arizona / Nevada state line where 23 miles of I-11 begin its run in Nevada would also become part of I-11 after a series of upgrades. That section is not part of the Record of Decision.
The idea of a Canada to Mexico transportation route which would connect the two largest cities in Arizona and Nevada dates back 25 years. However, it was not until 2015 that Congress formally designated I-11 as an interstate highway in Arizona, although the designation came with no funding for design or construction.
Deciding where the new interstate would be located has presented a years-long challenge for ADOT and FHWA. While the route between Phoenix to Wickenburg was delineated early, there have been two potential routes considered for the Phoenix to Nogales segment. That was further narrowed down to utilizing I-10 from Phoenix for several miles until just north of Marana.
The Tier 1 environmental impact review then looked at two alternatives for reaching Nogales. One of those options took an easterly route by utilizing existing roadways of I-10 to I-19 to State Route 189.
A westerly option, which is the one recommended by ADOT and approved this week by FHWA, would require construction of a new roadway through Avra Valley and then down near Three Points before merging into I-19 in Sahuarita. More than 60 percent of the land near that route is currently vacant.
Previous concerns voiced by stakeholders in the Sahuarita area led to an adjustment of the westerly route before it was recommended this week. The town of Sahuarita has even designated more than 90 acres of vacant land that could be utilized for the merging of I-11 with I-19.
But the I-11 project in Arizona is a long way from ever breaking ground, if it even gets that far. The Tier 1 report released this week with its westerly option recommendation is only the beginning. Additional studies would be necessary, including a Tier 2 environmental review.
“It is during the Tier 2 process that the Selected Corridor Alternative would be narrowed to a maximum 400-foot-wide highway alignment, or route,” according to ADOT. “Based on need and purpose, these segments would focus on smaller and shorter sections of I-11 and not the entire 280-mile corridor.”
And as with the recent announcement of a preferred alternative route for theSonoran Corridor connecting Interstate 10 to Interstate 19, the I-11 project is unfunded.
“Currently there are no plans or funding available to initiate these Tier 2 studies,” ADOT confirmed.
Less than 23 miles of I-11 have been competed in Nevada, running from the Hoover Dam Bypass at the Arizona state line to Henderson, Nevada. The CEO of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce has called completion of I-11 one of the most critical projects for the Intermountain Western states.
For more information about I-11 and the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement, visit i11study.com/Arizona.
It took more than seven years, but the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) announced last week its preferred route for the Sonoran Corridor, a 20- mile route through Pima County which will address several traffic issues, including heavy congestion and international traffic on Interstate 10 and Interstate 19 near Tucson.
“Following several years of study, technical analysis and input from communities and stakeholders, the Arizona Department of Transportation has selected a final 20.47 mile corridor through Pima County,” according to the Nov. 5 announcement, which noted several alternative routes were considered. In the end, Corridor Alternative 7 was selected.
The problem, however, is ADOT admits no funding is earmarked for the next round of environmental and engineering studies, let alone any land purchases or construction.
Plans for a Sonoran Corridor started in 2014 but kicked into drive in 2017 when ADOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) began a Tier 1 environmental review for a potential alternative route connecting I-10 to I-19 south of the Tucson International Airport. The overloaded highway system in that area is not only a public safety concern but also poses an impediment to future economic and population growth in the region.
The announced route connects to I-19 near El Toro Road in Sahuarita, tracks east for about two miles on a road that does not exist, then north on an extension of Alvernon Way. It then follows eastbound on the “Old Vail Connection Road” before connecting into I-10 near Rita Road and the UA Science and Technology Park.
According to ADOT, now that the preferred route for the Sonoran Corridor has identified, more studies must be conducted to further refine the selected 1,500-foot wide Sonoran Corridor and pinpoint a recommended 400-foot freeway alignment. Interchanges and other project elements also still need to be identified. Those studies are not yet funded.
The project is being developed as a phased implementation plan which allows for smaller segments of the selected corridor to advance as separate, independent projects. Additional analysis and opportunity for public / stakeholder review and comments will be available if or when ADOT secured funding to move the Sonoran Corridor forward.