Dec. 15, 2004 - Marana made progress toward relieving the stress of frustrated motorists as they drive through the town at a Dec. 7 council meeting.

The council agreed that Marana would pay for the widening of Cortaro Farms Road beneath Interstate 10. The project will cost $750,000 to $1 million, and should help relieve one of the town's biggest traffic headaches.

In return for the funding, the Arizona Department of Transportation, which regulates all construction on interstate highways in the state, will do the design work and provide the construction administration.

After the meeting Executive Assistant to the Town Manager Jim DeGrood said ADOT had ignored the town's request in the past. However, Marana officials were able to convince the department the problem needed to be fixed, and that now would be the time to do it, since the town will soon begin construction to widen Cortaro east of I-10 to Star Grass Drive.

The construction under I-10 will be done in conjunction with widening Cortaro east of the interchange, DeGrood said.

According to a letter sent from Tucson District Engineer Dennis Alvarez to Marana Town Manager Mike Reuwsaat, ADOT's engineer has done a feasibility study and determined it would be possible to add an additional eastbound lane under I-10 lane between the columns and the abutment. DeGrood said ADOT initially had some concerns about diverting traffic around the columns because of the risk it presents to motorists.

According to the letter, Marana will pay for the project because ADOT has inadequate contingency funds available.

The only step that remains before construction can begin is the Federal Highway Administration approval of the project.

In other action:

€ The town council held a public hearing on development impact fees for parks town-wide and Northwest Marana roadways, though no audience members spoke. The impact fees approach $10,00 per home and include $3,095 town-wide for parks and $6,315 for roadway development in Northwest Marana. Developers could avoid payment if they include necessary infrastructure into the plans for their communities.

DeGrood said the town had discussed the fee proposal with developers and the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association.

These groups had some broad concerns with the fees, DeGrood said. Those concerns included whether the fees would overbuild parks and roadways, how credits for improvement included in developers plans would be granted and whether the fees could be phased in gradually to avoid a shock to the market that would keep people from being able to afford homes in Marana.

€ The town council held a closed meeting to discuss the creation of a contract for Town Manager Mike Reuwsaat. Currently, Reuwsaat is working without a contract. Reuwsaat said the discussion was necessary because the town needs to establish guidelines concerning the duties of the town manager and how his performance will be evaluated.

Councilmember Ed Honea said the council is satisfied with Reuwsaat's performance. He said most other municipalities have a town manager who works under a contract, and as Marana grows it will be necessary to have one in place.

€ In another closed meeting, the council discussed possible legal action the town can take in response to the Tucson council's decision to try to acquire the Flowing Wells Irrigation District, by condemnation if necessary.

Tucson Water and Marana are both vying for the 1,500 acre feet of Central Arizona Project water Flowing Wells will soon give up. Marana has already put in an application with the Arizona Department of Water Resources to obtain that allocation, but if Tucson can acquire the Flowing Wells Irrigation District, it will also acquire that allocation.

Both municipalities argue that they have the greatest need for the allocation to prepare for future growth in the area.

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