After Multiple Deaths, Arizona Lawmakers Seek Funding For Tonto Creek Bridge

By Katherine Davis-Young
Published: Tuesday, December 17, 2019 - 2:29pm
Updated: Tuesday, December 17, 2019 - 3:33pm

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Rep. David Cook
Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services
David Cook

Three children died in Tonto Creek in late November and a 69-year-old man died crossing the creek earlier this month. All were swept away as vehicles they were in tried to make it across the flooded creek.

Now, a bill in the Arizona House proposes to direct state funds to build a bridge in the area.

Gila County has been looking into building a bridge over Tonto Creek since the 1980s. The county estimates a bridge would cost around $20 million. Republican Rep. David Cook's bill would use the state’s general fund to pay for it.

“For years there has been devastation, destruction of property, and people put at risk at this site, and it seems like it’s government that can’t get things in order to make it a priority to make this project happen,” Cook said.

Cook said with a strong economy, the state has plenty of room in its budget. "If now is not the time to step up and complete some of these much-needed projects that have been lingering for a decade or more, then when is the time?" 

A bipartisan group of lawmakers have signed onto Cook’s pre-filed bill already. Arizona's legislative session begins in January. The bill would need approval from the Senate, House, and the governor before funds would be appropriated.

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