There has been talk of a second bridge spanning Bridgewater Channel in Lake Havasu City for decades but a proposed bill in the Arizona House of Representatives could finally make it a reality.
The issue of a second bridge over the channel to increase access to the island and decrease traffic on the world famous London Bridge has been discussed for decades with new plans, proposals and fresh pushes popping up from time to time – especially in the past 15 years. The city went so far as to purchase 5.54 acres of property on the island side from Arizona State Land Department to secure a path for the bridge in 2008 for $3.5 million according to an article in Today’s News-Herald at the time. City Manager Jess Knudson said the city also has a standing lease agreement with Arizona State Parks for the land needed on the mainland side of the channel which was just renewed in 2018.
Through the years city officials have consistently said such a bridge would eventually be necessary. But each plan that has been pursued through the years has eventually been put on hold indefinitely, frequently due to the high cost of the project.
Representative Leo Biasiucci and the rest of the District 5 Legislative team feel that now is the time to finally put plans into motion.
“In Havasu we have been talking about a second bridge for 15 or 20 years,” Biasiucci said. “I think we are at a point where we realize Havasu is growing, it is becoming more popular, it is a tourist destination, and I’m sure everyone has noticed that when big weekends come into play the traffic is a mile or two deep with boats.
“I think in regards to safety – if something ever happened on the island – and in regards to traffic I think this is a perfect time to get this through. Between Senator (Sonny) Borrelli, myself and Gina (Representative Regina Cobb) we have all talked about how we can get this through the budget and make it happen.”
Biasiucci is the prime sponsor of HB 2263, which calls for a total of $22 million from the state general fund made in $11 million payments this year and next year. The proposal has the full support of Havasu officials.
“We are thrilled with the conversations and hard work Representative Biasiucci is accomplishing with putting Lake Havasu City in the forefront of the legislative conversation,” Knudson said.
He said the city’s current estimates for the project expect a final price tag of about $25 to $30 million – including the bridge and connecting roads needed to bring traffic to and from it. Knudson said more accurate figures would be available once designs are finished.
Biasiucci said he expects the money from the state would cover the majority of the project.
“Havasu has already invested about ($3.5 million) in land acquisitions and what not,” Biasiucci said. “We are going to want a little bit more skin in the game from the city of Havasu when the time comes as well, but we can figure that part out. This should cover, if not all of it, a majority of it.”
Biasiucci said this is exactly the type of project that the state considers funding, and the fact that state revenues have come in higher than projected this year should help the effort.
“At the state level our goal is always about safety and infrastructure – it’s kind of like my bill with Highway 95 repaving,” Biasiucci said. “We need to do things, especially for rural Arizona. A lot of times the money goes to the great state of Maricopa and the bigger cities. So with me being the Majority Whip, Sonny being the Majority Whip in the Senate, and Regina being the (house) appropriations chair we have some power and some influence here and we have to take advantage of that because rural areas like ours typically don’t get a lot of the attention.”
Borrelli, who is co-sponsoring the bill along with Cobb, also pointed out that it isn’t only Havasu residents who will see the benefits of a second bridge which he called “long overdue.”
“We have a lot of visitors from a lot of states,” Borrelli said. “I think it would be good for the state with tourism and everything else, and it provides more safety and helps preserve the landmark antique that we have – the London Bridge.”
The bill also stipulates that the legislature intends for the bridge to be named the Freedom Bridge.
The Freedom Bridge was originally proposed as the name for the second bridge over the channel in 2007 when a group of citizens came up with the idea to turn the second bridge into a memorial honoring America’s veterans. The idea eventually spawned the Freedom Memorial Walkway in the English Village which continues to this day.
Biasiucci said he likes the proposed name’s fit for Havasu.
“What better name than the Freedom Bridge for a city that supports their veterans, is patriotic, and loves there country?” he asked. “It made a lot of sense.”