PHOENIX Senator Kyrsten Sinema was in front of the Metrocenter Mall on Friday and met with Valley Metro and city guides to discuss the next steps for the federal infrastructure fund.
The projects are well documented, from light rail extensions and trams to the feasibility of electric buses. The senator asks questions and gives suggestions on how to advance the projects.
“My team and I spend our time focusing 100% on getting those dollars to Arizona as quickly as possible,” Senator Sinema said in a one-on-one interview with ABC15.
Arizona is set to receive around $ 5.8 billion for freeways and public transportation, according to the White House.
The approval process, which can often take years, forces local leaders to turn to Sinema in Washington in hopes of moving things forward.
“You shouldn’t have to go to your US Senator to get approval for this type of work.”
Sinema said she will work closely with Mitch Landrieu, who is helping the White House oversee the funds.
“I will turn to the agencies and Mitch Landrieu to say that this is where the bottleneck is happening, this is the bureaucracy, and I will break that through together,” said Sinema.
According to Valley Metro CEO Scott Smith, environmental studies are often the most time-consuming, but also very important.
“In Arizona we value nothing more than the beauty of our surroundings, which is why we live here,” said Sinema.
Sinema said she and her co-sponsor Rob Portman added a specific language to the bill to streamline the licensing process while also meeting federal standards.
“We want to make sure we’re protecting it without slowing down the pace of business or growth.”
Sinema also met with tribal leaders to discuss their most pressing infrastructure needs, including clean water and access to broadband in rural communities.
“One thing I am really proud of is that every single Indian water rights settlement in the country is now fully funded so that all tribes receive full funding for those settlements,” she said.
“I look forward to getting those dollars out quickly and I am so grateful to be working with our tribal partners.”
As for her most immediate focus, Sinema says she wants to reduce the risk of wildfires in Arizona for the next season.
“One of my top priorities is to raise funds immediately to help prepare for the fire season.”
“The Forest Service is already sending money to Arizona so we can use it for fire fighting and containment,” Sinema said.