Tag Archives: infrastructure

Sundt Construction, Arizona

Sundt Construction Expands To New Mexico, N. Carolina And Texas

Arizona-based general contractor Sundt Construction has expanded its operations, opening three satellite offices in Albuquerque, N.M.; Cary, N.C. and El Paso, Texas. The offices will support active projects in those areas.

“During Sundt’s 122-year history, we have completed projects across the United States and around the world,” said Doug Pruitt, CEO and Chairman of Sundt Construction. “The opening of these satellite offices aligns with our plans for growth, and will help us best serve our current and future clients and partners in those markets.”

The El Paso office supports work underway at the Fort Bliss military installation, including housing projects, tactical facilities and infrastructure, training ranges, tank trails and more. It will also act as the hub for West Texas project work for public agencies and private owners alike.

The El Paso satellite location is the second Texas office to open in the last year and a half. In February 2010, Sundt established a Texas District headquarters in San Antonio in light of its active projects and long history in the Lone Star State, which includes more than 40 years and $1 billion in project work.

In addition to its work at Fort Bliss, the company is working on projects at Fort Hood in Killeen and Fort Sam Houston near San Antonio, as well as the Public Safety Answering Point / 9-1-1 Dispatch Center in San Antonio. The most recent Texas project win came last month when the Texas Department of Transportation awarded Sundt a $24.1 million civil construction contract to renovate the W. Seventh Street Bridge in Fort Worth.

In North Carolina, Sundt’s Cary office supports work underway at Camp Lejeune. The company is working for the U.S. Navy Facilities Engineering Command to construct two Marine Corps barracks facilities with a total of 370 units at Camp Lejeune. Sundt hopes to increase its presence throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions, where it has a history inclusive of federal and private sector projects.

In New Mexico, Sundt’s Albuquerque office supports work at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. Sundt presently serves as the Construction Manager at Risk for the $22 million Chamisa Village project, which includes the construction of three new three-story buildings, associated site development, utilities and self-perform concrete work. The new buildings total 127,000 square feet and will house approximately 300 students in two- and four-bedroom apartments situated around central courtyards.

Designed by Steinberg Architects, Chamisa Village will seek LEED Gold for Homes certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, which would make it the first Gold-certified multi-unit university building in New Mexico.

Reviving the Construction Industry

Plan to Revive Construction Industry Unveiled

The Associated General Contractors of America released a new national plan today detailing measures to stimulate demand for construction. Officials said the plan was needed to reverse construction employment declines that have taken place in 317 out of 337 metro areas since January 2007, according to new data the association released today.

“Our goal is to rebuild a devastated construction market that has left millions jobless, littered cities with incomplete projects and sapped much needed revenue, commerce and customers out of our economy,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Considering the scope and impact of construction job losses, the last thing any of us can afford is a repeat of the past four years.”

The plan, called “Building a Stronger Future, A New Blueprint for Economic Growth,” outlines measures to help boost private sector demand for construction, help tackle a growing infrastructure maintenance backlog and reduce needless red tape and regulations. Sandherr said the association developed the plan to overcome the years-long construction downturn that has left over 2.2 million construction workers unemployed and the industry’s unemployment rate at 21.8 percent, more than twice the national average.

Sandherr released the plan and the new employment figures, during a visit to Phoenix,  which has lost more construction jobs – 91,400 – than any other metro area since the start of the construction downturn in January 2007, a 54 percent decline. Nationwide, 28 cities lost 50 percent or more of their construction jobs, including Boise, Idaho; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Medford, Ore.; and Merced, Calif., Sandherr noted.

The metro areas that lost the most construction jobs during the past four years, besides Phoenix, included Las Vegas (-61,900 jobs, -61 percent); Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. (-57,700 jobs, -51 percent); the Atlanta area (-57,700 jobs, -42 percent); and the Los Angeles area (-56,200 jobs, -37 percent).

Lake Havasu City-Kingman (-65 percent, -4,200 jobs) and Bend, Ore. (-65 percent, -5,200 jobs) lost the highest percentage of construction jobs of any metro area. They were followed by St. George, Utah (-62 percent, -5,200 jobs); Las Vegas; and Naples, Fla. (-61 percent, -13,700 jobs).

Only 14 metro areas added construction jobs during the past four years, while employment levels were unchanged in another six. The five metro areas with the largest construction employment gains were all in Texas: Beaumont-Port Arthur (3,400 jobs, 21 percent); Longview (3,100 jobs, 26 percent); Midland (2,100 jobs, 15 percent); El Paso (1,900 jobs, 14 percent); and Odessa (1,800 jobs, 17 percent).

Pascagoula, Miss., experienced the highest percentage increase in construction employment (47 percent, 1,600 jobs) during the past four years. Other metro areas adding a high percentage of construction jobs included Longview; Beaumont-Port Arthur; Lawton, Okla. (20 percent, 300 jobs); and Odessa.

“In too many metro areas, the construction industry is a mere shadow of what it was just four years ago,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist, who prepared the new employment analysis. “This new data should make it pretty clear that the sector’s revival is anything but guaranteed.”

Sandherr said the recovery plan emphasizes boosting private sector demand, which once accounted for 76 percent of all construction activity, but now accounts for only 60 percent. It calls for approving pending trade agreements to boost demand for manufacturing and shipping facilities, repealing the alternative minimum tax and making permanent the tax cuts that were first put in place in 2001 and 2003.

The plan also identifies new tax credits to encourage retail and restaurant upgrades, improve the efficiency of commercial buildings and help contractors invest in new, more efficient construction equipment. And it urges Congress and the Administration to finally end the double taxation of U.S-based businesses that succeed in international markets.

Sandherr noted the plan includes measures to tackle infrastructure problems that cost American businesses an estimated $100 billion a year due to delays and lost productivity. It calls for significant reforms to federal surface, aviation and waterways programs. And it urges federal officials to refocus on efforts that are clearly in the national interest, streamline the years-long federal review process, and find new ways to leverage private sector dollars.

Sandherr added that the plan also includes comprehensive measures to reduce costly, time consuming and needless regulatory burdens. It calls on Congress to pass legislation limiting major new regulations, reform the approval process for new highway and transit projects and oppose well-meaning labor and Buy American mandates that do little to create new jobs and a lot to add costs and delay work.

The plan also highlights the need to repeal a costly new mandate set to begin next year that requires governments at all levels to withhold three percent of the cost of virtually all major construction projects from contractors. “For an industry where most firms are lucky to make three percent in profit on a project, this new mandate will either put a lot of people out of work or needlessly inflate the cost of public construction,” Sandherr cautioned.

i/o Data Centers

i/o Data Centers Keeps Companies Nationwide Up And Running

Despite an ongoing recessionary climate, Phoenix-based i/o Data Centers just keeps on growing and doesn’t plan on stopping.

In the last year i/o doubled its number of employees and is looking to expand its Phoenix location. In Oct., i/o announced it closed $200 million in financing for the company’s expansions.

In addition to its Phoenix and Scottsdale centers, i/o wants to establish locations throughout the U.S., as well as manufacture modular data centers, called i/o ANYWHERE, that would allow data center capacity anywhere a customer needs it. The modular data centers would be manufactured in Arizona, adding to i/o’s employment capabilities within the state.

The i/o Data Centers in Phoenix are co-location data centers, which means individual companies hire i/o to store and secure their data at an i/o facility. Approximately 400 companies store their data in i/o’s two Arizona locations.

The impression that i/o stores data is misleading, the company is merely the keeper of the outside package not the internal information, says Jason Ferrara, vice president of marketing at i/o Data Centers.

“You can say i/o stores data, and that’s where I think confusion comes into play,” Ferrara says. “We don’t touch anyone’s data. … We don’t have access to your data, which is a really important thing because the companies we deal with here are literally some of the biggest in the world.”

Its clients, companies such as AAA Insurance and Fender Musical Instruments, “have a competitive advantage by being here,” Ferrara says. Some companies refuse to be named as an i/o client because it gives them a large competitive edge.

“Really what i/o does is we just allow other companies to do their business,” Ferrara says. “We provide them with the infrastructure, the power, the cooling, the network and the access control so that they can conduct their IT operations without failure.”

By using back-up power sources, an evaporative cooling system, and maintaining tight-as-Fort-Knox security, i/o ensures its clients will never go offline.

“They can effectively conduct business 24 by seven by forever,” he says.

Round-the-clock power and flawless security are particularly important for companies such as banks that allow clients to make payments or transfers online, or a company that stores personal information, such as credit card numbers.

Ferrara says Arizona is a perfect place for a data center because of three reasons – Arizona is an exporter of power, which means i/o will never go without power; Arizona is business-friendly; and finally Arizona is free from environmental threats like earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and tornadoes.

Although many people question the efficiency of running a data center – known to produce a large amount of heat – in one of the hottest cities in the nation, i/o uses a fairly green method of cooling, Ferrara says.

Evaporative cooling systems, which are more effective than air conditioning systems at keeping temperatures low, cool its data centers. Other green practices include LED lighting and variable frequency dry fans, which only operate at the frequency necessary to keep the room at a particular temperature.

In addition to keeping the temperature at a certain level, i/o also uses ultrasonic humidification devices to prevent static electricity from creating a spark and causing an outage, Ferarra says.

“That’s our goal – is uptime – keeping our customers’ computer systems online all the time. And they pay a lot of money for that.”

Arizona Sunset - Future of West Valley

Valley Leaders Join Forces To Envision The Future West Valley

Leadership West LogoOver 100 Valley leaders convened on November 31, 2010 to develop a future vision for the West Valley in an exercise led by Leadership West.  Leadership West is a volunteer-led, non-profit organization that convenes, educates and activates proven leaders in business, non-profits and government to leverage their time, talents and treasures to enhance the quality of life in the West Valley.

Moving AZOne LogoThe “West Valley Reality Check” was free for its participants, thanks to the collaborative effort and partnership between Leadership West and the Urban Land Institute (ULI). The program’s goal was to bring together leaders in government, business, non-profits, environmentalists, educators, neighborhood activists, interfaith groups, tribal and elected officials to focus on a regional approach to shaping our built environment. The event was a continuation of Leadership West’s annual West Valley Summit which was held in March.

By 2050, the Central Arizona region will have an additional 6 million people and 3 million new jobs, many of which will be in the West Valley. This exercise presented the opportunity for Valley stakeholders to influence how the region plans land-use, transportation and infrastructure while sustaining our economy and quality of life.

Leadership West Executive Director, Kathy Knecht kicked off the event by describing the organization as a catalyst for long-term planning in the West Valley.  The Reality Check model was designed by ULI, but this event was the first time where such an exercise was conducted with West Valley stakeholders.  What emerged from the exercise was an overarching theme of municipal and regional cooperation that looks beyond the current economic cycle in preparation for the next wave.

Deb Sydenham introduced the Reality Check model as a great opportunity to work collaboratively and cooperatively to help regions with visioning at least 20 years into the future. Don Keuth presented Valley growth trends and how this exercise will help establish the framework for future growth. Interestingly enough, only about 10 cities across the country have performed this activity but Phoenix is the only city that has done it twice. ULI Arizona’s efforts over the past 3 years have resulted in the “Connected Centers” strategy that promotes growth and prosperity.  These exercises represent a forward-thinking approach to identify a sustainable regional growth scenario and by doing so determine housing types, responsible land uses and a transportation framework.

MapJay Hicks presented the ground rules for the placemaking exercise in which participants use Legos© that represent various levels of housing and employment density and strands of yarn that represent major transportation corridors to identify the region’s growth patterns.  Participants used these tools in their groups to establish a 40-year vision with the understanding of the West Valley’s opportunities and challenges, including jobs, transportation, Luke AFB, higher education and the environment.

By keeping an open mind, being bold and creative and working together to find solutions, the participant groups completed their visioning exercise while maintaining AZOne Reality Check’s guiding principles of preserving open space, supporting current infrastructure by growing along existing corridors, connecting employment and housing with multi-modal transportation, creating new urban centers and infilling currently developed areas, and locating housing near jobs.

The collective group discussed barriers and challenges that might hinder the implementation of these future scenarios as well as policy changes that would be necessary to making the scenarios possible. However, the group clearly identified a need for the West Valley to stay relevant in conversations about regional issues by working collaboratively and speaking as one voice.  Leadership West did not intend this exercise to be the end, but rather the next step in moving this initiative forward by carrying the message back to each respective organization.  The Reality Check exercise provided a forum for West Valley representatives to use regional visioning and planning and discuss how we can promote economic development, plan comprehensive infrastructure, preserve natural resources, create a sense of place in the community, and engage the community and create political will to implement these visions.  Our common goal…leadership.

ethics scale

Making Ethics An Essential Part Of Doing Business

The challenge of building an ethical climate in businesses is not new. However, in the last decade, the importance of such a climate, and the heavy costs of ethical transgressions, have been prominent in the daily headlines. They reveal the impact of decades of ethical mismanagement that goes beyond explicitly breaking laws. Rather, the issue is the systematic failures of businesses in developing, executing and maintaining an infrastructure that fosters ethical decision-making.

By ethical decision-making, we mean the ability of employees to recognize and detect decision situations that risk damaging operations or investments, negatively impacting shareholders and other stakeholders, or harming the business’ reputation.

Business ethics are complex; we cannot trivialize the work of developing a culture of integrity. Nevertheless, here is a list of key guidelines that managers in companies of any size can use to build an ethical system of “doing what is right.”

The prerequisites
Start at the top — You are the ethical leaders of the business. Chief executive officers must formally commit to incorporating ethical behaviors as a guiding principle within their business’ mission statement and goals. Ethical core values should be consistently communicated, embraced and reinforced to stakeholders.

Know key laws and regulatory issues — Employees must know relevant laws such as Sarbanes-Oxley, Occupational Health and Safety, intellectual property, etc., that impact their responsibility areas. Many employees should know labor laws to avoid discriminatory behaviors. And, they should know that violating laws or trying to “get around them” will not be tolerated.

Standardize policies and procedures — This is where ethical lapses frequently occur, especially in small businesses. There is a tendency to ignore or resist putting in place formal codes of behavior because they can make the members of an entrepreneurial enterprise feel constrained, or worst of all, bureaucratic. But without written common rules and procedures for such areas as itemizing expenses, accepting gifts, incentive programs, days off, or handling customer communications, businesses lend themselves to problems of cheating, fairness and misrepresentations. This is not to suggest developing detailed manuals, but rather identifying key areas of inconsistencies that can cause financial, reputation or stakeholder harm, and then developing proactive communication to avoid potential ethical misconduct.

Implement a formal system to handle potential ethical problems — Employees should know where they can go within the company if they have or notice an ethical dilemma, particularly if they believe they cannot go directly to their manager. If a business has a human resources department, that is a logical place to go if employees are concerned about the risks of “whistle blowing.” Some businesses have designated an ethics officer, a hot line, or a suggestion box to foster an environment of integrity. Whatever approach is taken, employees must be assured that they will not suffer negative consequences for consulting with appropriate parties to discuss their concerns.

Conduct behavioral interviewing with potential employees — How do you hire employees who are ethical? Unfortunately, there are no valid and reliable “ethical behavioral” tests. Some businesses have job prospects take written exams that include questions addressing fictional ethical dilemmas; others ask those questions in interviews. These approaches may provide insights into a potential hire’s ethical reasoning and decision-making. While no one can guarantee a recruit’s future ethical behavior, the processes described above will help integrate him or her into the ethical climate of the business.

Building a foundation
Incorporate ethical behavior into performance expectations — This is a very new area. To ensure that the values of the organization are aligned with an employee’s conduct, ethics could be included as part of the performance appraisal process. Employees then become accountable not just for achieving business results, but also for how they went about accomplishing them.

Provide employees with mentors — One way to help employees in ethical decision-making is to provide them with colleagues who can offer advice and support. This can be done by establishing a formal system of mentors, or by actively encouraging employees to seek out others within the organization.

Hold periodic employee training sessions — Learning about ethics within a business context is an ongoing process. Holding periodic employee meetings where they can learn from one another about ethical dilemmas they faced and how they were resolved, situations where they should not push boundaries, and how to talk about ethical issues with others, can be invaluable in developing a collective ethical identity.

Identify and develop ethical leaders — As your business identifies employees who “do the right things,” the company should highlight their performance, reward them and promote them as role models to others.

Commitment to an ethical climate
Respond quickly to reports of unethical behavior — Investigate, and if confirmed, work to resolve them. You will want to do this, not only to reinforce a climate of ethics, but to prevent any possible escalation of an unaddressed ethical problem.

Establish and follow through with consequences for both positive ethical behaviors and misconduct — Reward employees who demonstrate sound ethical behavior, and be clear on the consequences if employees violate a law or policy, are deceptive in their dealings with others, do creative but dangerous manipulation of data or information, etc. Rewards and punishments can be tangible or intangible, but they must be consistent and appropriate to the potential or actual harm that results from the situation at hand.

Monitor ethical activity — If possible, do ethical audits. Like any business-result area, measurement is fundamental. One can accomplish this through looking at the number of ethical instances reported, doing a survey, compliance reports, etc.

Keep up to date on laws and compliance issues — Ensure that managers are current on any revisions.

CEOs have to be the ethical leaders. They need to stand for and drive the values they want their business to be known for as it succeeds in its performance. To do this, they must be clear on what their values are, communicate them regularly, establish checks and balances to ensure value commitment, and reinforce a culture of integrity. This is not an easy process, but it is a necessary condition toward building an ethical climate. And this is the ultimate leadership challenge.

Dale Kalika is a lecturer and Barbara Keats is an associate professor in the department of management in the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. They are conducting research on Generation Y, their entrance into the work force, and ethical decision-making.

Shore Leave 2008

IT Offshore Outsourcing Is Getting Competitive

These days, one is more likely to hear a politician or corporate executive use the term “offshore” than a sailor. That’s because offshore outsourcing and the more general offshoring have become common and controversial business practices — especially when it comes to information technology.

First, the controversial part: When you hear politicians griping about companies shipping jobs overseas, they are talking about offshoring.

Simply defined, offshoring is the practice of relocating certain aspects of a business to foreign countries primarily to take advantage of lower-priced skilled labor. This can involve manufacturing or services. Plus, it comes in many forms, including one where parent companies sets up an offshore operation.

shore leave 2008

Offshore outsourcing, a practice more common to IT, involves shipping certain business operations or processes to third-party providers that utilize overseas locations. This can involve multinational service providers such as IBM, Unisys and EDS, which is scheduled to become part of Hewlett-Packard this year. Or it can involve foreign companies, such as India’s Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro Technologies, Infosys, Cognizant and HCL Technologies.

You’re more likely to hear candidates talk about offshore outsourcing than business leaders.

“It’s still a very popular business practice nowadays,” says Benjamin Shao, associate professor of Information Systems at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business. “But I think U.S. companies now have learned from their own experience or from their competitors’ experience over the last few years. So now they also try to be a little bit more discreet and careful when it comes down to the idea of offshore outsourcing.”

TechsUnite.org, a high-tech workers union site, claims 528,478 U.S. jobs have been offshored since Jan. 1, 2000 through early August of this year.

The main reason for offshoring, according to Shao, is cost reduction, which may equate to a savings in salaries alone that ranges from 30 percent to 50 percent. Other considerations include incentives from foreign governments and access to highly skilled technical employees in such countries as India, China and Malaysia. Also, the move overseas has been facilitated by advances in technology.

“It makes it easier now for companies to manage an IT project on the global scale, which was not possible before the Internet era,” Shao says.

Ross Tisnovsky is vice president of ITO research for the Everest Research Institute, a subsidiary of the Everest Group. The global consultancy organization serves a number of Fortune 500-level buyers of outsourcing services, including several with interests in Arizona.

He separates IT outsourcing into three main categories: infrastructure outsourcing, application development and maintenance outsourcing, and IT consulting. The first deals with running such operations as servers, networks, etc. The second includes writing code for new applications and maintaining code for existing applications. The third ranges from setting up data centers to consulting on infrastructure.

IT offshoring offers two choices.

“I would loosely break down offshoring into two components,” Tisnovsky says. “One, you outsource to an external supplier that has major operations offshore. And then, if you go with a multinational supplier … then you are likely to get a lower percentage of your resources offshore. But if you go with an offshore supplier … then you will get a much larger percentage of your work force located offshore.”

Tisnovsky says the worldwide pool of developers serving the United States in application development and maintenance amounts to about 25 percent located offshore.

When it comes to outsourcing IT operations and infrastructure, Tisnovsky says there are two components: the asset-heavy model where a supplier takes ownership of a company’s IT assets and the asset-light model where the service provider merely manages and controls a company’s IT assets.

“If a U.S. company would like to consider the use of offshoring as a value lever in infrastructure outsourcing, there’s a more important decision for them to make before that, which is what they plan to do with their IT assets,” Tisnovsky says.

Multinational providers are the most likely options for the asset-heavy model, while foreign providers become a viable option in the other case.

Neither of these options is without risk and that’s where a company like Jefferson Wells comes in. Jefferson Wells is a professional services firm with an office in Phoenix. MacDonnell “Don” Ulsch is its director of technology risk management and author of the new book, “Threat! Managing Risk in a Hostile World.”

His company helps clients make informed judgments when it comes to IT offshore outsourcing. For example, it’s important to make sure a providercan protect data. Don’t choose one based on price alone.

cover october 2008

When selecting an offshore service provider, considerations include knowing a country’s history, investigating a company’s hiring process, understanding physical and geographic risks, and documenting a company’s security-related policies and procedures.

Ulsch says IT offshore outsourcing is a reality of business.

“Clearly there is a certain amount of work that is going to go offshore. I don’t even think that’s a question,” he says. “To be competitive in a global environment, there’s probably no other solution.”

wpcarey.asu.edu
www.everestresearchinstitute.com
www.jefferson-wells.com

FutureShock

State Leaders Prepare The Copper State For Explosive Growth

An official letter from the state’s Lawn and Pool Use Enforcement Division says you must choose between taking out your green lawn or draining your swimming pool. You can’t have both, as the state has been severely restricting outdoor water use ever since the population of Central and Southern Arizona swelled to 10 million people around 2040.

You opt to keep the pool because urban sprawl and the heat-island effect have caused Arizona to break yet another record — the number of summer days when the temperature fails to drop below 100 degrees.

But time in the pool is getting rarer. Your daily commute from Pinal County to Phoenix is a grinding two hours. You’d like to work closer to home, but job centers and transportation routes haven’t reached your relatively new subdivision.

Welcome to the Sun Corridor, circa 2050.

With foresight, unified planning and a significant investment in the state’s infrastructure, the above scenario need not play out.

Without it, according to the author of a recent report on Arizona’s future, a part of the state risks becoming, not the next Los Angeles, but its bland sister — the San Fernando Valley.

“You’ll essentially get existing urban development patterns spread all over the place in a seamless, homogenous, urban fabric of chain stores, fast food restaurants and red stucco houses,” says Grady Gammage Jr., a principle author of “Megapolitan — Arizona’s Sun Corridor,” published by Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy.

The report predicts that land stretching from the middle of Yavapai County to western Cochise County to the Mexican border will someday merge into one integrated super metropolitan area — a “megapolitan” dubbed the Sun Corridor.

That doesn’t mean there will be uninterrupted development between Prescott and Tucson — there is too much Indian and federal land in the way. Instead, the corridor’s economies and commuting patterns will merge.

Imagine a series of overlapping circles emanating from Pima, Pinal and Maricopa counties. According to a measurement developed by scholars at the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech, if at least 15 percent of workers from one area commute to another, those commuting patterns have merged.

Already, Pinal County sends 40 percent of its workers into other regions, most likely north to Maricopa County.

“That means Maricopa and Pinal are already merged,” Gammage says.

Some time between 2010 and 2020, Pinal is expected to send more than 15 percent of its workers south to Pima County, Gammage adds, creating an economic bridge between Phoenix and Tucson.

The U.S. Census designates these areas with cross-region commuting patterns as “combined statistical areas,” something the “Megapolitan” report says may happen by the 2020 decennial census.

The Sun Corridor will be one of 10 megapolitan areas in the United States. By 2030, it could be home to 10 million people and 4.5 million jobs, making it a potential hotbed of wealth and productivity. According to the report, the nation’s office market and high-tech clusters are in megapolitans.

However, as the Morrison Institute report asks, will Arizona be able to harness the staggering potential of such an area?

That would require a whole new level of dialogue and cooperation between the five councils of government, six counties, 57 municipalities and 300 other governmental units spanning the 30,000-square-mile area that would make up the Sun Corridor.

And the state is just at the beginning of that process, Gammage says, adding, “We’re behind the curve.”

Shannon Scutari, on the other hand, believes she sees progress every day.

As Gov. Janet Napolitano’s policy advisor for growth and infrastructure, Scutari is on the front lines of important growth initiatives, including the long-term planning exercise developed by the Urban Land Institute, AZ One – A Reality Check for Arizona, held last spring at the Phoenix Convention Center.

Statistics from the Morrison Institute

AZ One assembled more than 300 people from Maricopa and Pinal counties and guided them through alternative growth scenarios with the purpose of generating discussion and consensus.

“They’re talking to each other, there’s no doubt about it,” Scutari says of the disparate public and civic leaders she encounters in her job. “Some of them are actually even listening to each other.”

Scutari adds that the governor hopes to see the AZ One exercise duplicated in the Tucson and Flagstaff areas.

While her office is trying to bring several growth issues into sharp relief, Scutari says a pressing challenge is the state’s need to invest in transportation infrastructure.

That is why the Arizona Department of Transportation has begun a $7 million statewide study and is working with cities, tribal governments, land-use planners, regional transportation organizations and others to assess the state’s infrastructure.

One important feature of the Statewide Transportation Planning Framework, Scutari says, will be to connect land-use decisions with transportation infrastructure, some


thing that has never been done. The study already has outlined some of the most critical transportation needs.

Right now, the governor is backing an initiative campaign to put on the November ballot a one-cent increase in the state’s sales tax. The increase would raise $42 billion over 30 years to pay for transportation infrastructure.

The money is needed as Arizona’s roads and freeways are “only going to get worse in the next 25 years,” warns Tim James, director of research and consulting for ASU’s L. William Seidman Research Institute.

James headed a team that spent a year studying the state’s infrastructure and its ability to handle growth. The resulting report did not endorse the Napolitano-backed initiative, but it did say that without changes in funding mechanisms, the state cannot keep up with growth.

“There will be longer commutes, there will be more time spent in traffic, you’ll be traveling at lower speeds,” James says. “It’s going to be more congestion and less safe journeys. The road system is going to become unacceptably poor.”

The report, commissioned by the Arizona Investment Council, formerly known as the Arizona Utility Investors Association, concluded that accommodating growth is going to be “very, very costly” — probably $417 billion to $532 billion in the next 25 years.

In that time period:

  • Electricity demand will increase by about 85 percent, yet the state faces a funding gap in paying for new plants.
  • Just providing telecommunications services to the state’s current unserved population would cost up to $2 billion. Creating a state-of-the-art fiber network that would guarantee high quality telecommunications would cost about 10 times that.
  • Water delivery and treatment systems built decades ago will need to be replaced.

While it is impossible to predict exactly what the Sun Corridor will look like in 2040, planners do know generally where growth will occur.

Eric Anderson, transportation director for the Maricopa Association of Governments, says projections show most growth in Maricopa County will be in the West Valley as developable land in the east diminishes. Pinal County, where it meets the southeast corner of Maricopa County southeast of Queen Creek and the 275-acre state land parcel dubbed Superstition Vistas, will see a lot of growth as well. Finally, Anderson says, areas around Casa Grande and Maricopa will continue to expand.

According to MAG’s latest figures, there are about 1.8 million housing units already approved or entitled in various master-planned communities in Maricopa and Pinal counties.

Jay Hicks, co-chairman of the AZ One steering committee and a vice president at EDAW Inc., an architecture and environment consulting company, says people still can shape the character of future development, even in the face of all that entitled land.

Some parcels may need to be re-entitled as time passes and communities become more cognizant of the way land uses affect pollution levels and energy consumption.

Additionally, 40 to 50 percent of all commercial properties will need to be redeveloped in the next 15 to 20 years, Hick says.

Facing the challenges that come with growth seems daunting, but Scutari says there is “a sense ofoptimism” among the state’s stakeholders.

As Gammage put it: “There is an opportunity here, if we can seize it and get ahead of it, we can do something really special.”