Residents have voiced their concerns and hopes about getting around the city, and Scottsdale transportation officials are not far away from presenting possible solutions.
Due to be released late next month are drafts of the Transportation Master Plan, the city’s comprehensive look at its interlocking systems of roads, highways, bicycle paths, bus routes and sidewalks. It’s a milestone in a process expected to end next summer, with the plan’s adoption.
Not since the late 1980s has Scottsdale undertaken such a project, and since then the city has changed drastically. Two decades ago, Scottsdale was constantly expanding northward. But now, the expansion has stopped — and there’s a movement toward inner-city living.
The difficulty of creating roads — and parking spots — for thousands of new downtown residents is just one challenge facing city officials.
‘We are a city of 220,000 strong,” said Teresa Huish, Scottsdale’s principal transportation planner. “Ask 220,000 people, and you’re going to get 220,000 answers.”
Recreation enthusiasts want gaps eliminated in jogging trails. Workers at Scottsdale Airpark want a minimum of fuss getting to and from their jobs. Solve gridlock, many said, but not at the expense of the community’s character.
“We heard in our interviews and workshops a real strong theme about people wanting more choices and wanting to see a greater role for transit,” said Charles Hales, a consultant assisting the city. “Given that Scottsdale, so far, hasn’t been part of the regional transit expansion that’s under way, that was a bit of a surprise to us.”
Huish and Hales listened to the public last spring. Planners now are going through suggestions offered by residents and separating the feasible (a tunnel under the Airpark) from the impossible (moving sidewalks running north-south through Scottsdale).
The best, and most realistic, alternatives will be presented in late September and early October, contained in eight drafts: Streets, transit, bicycle access, pedestrian access, studies of downtown, the Airpark area and north Scottsdale, and high-capacity transit.
That last point covers the possibility that light rail could come to the city. In 2003, the City Council identified Scottsdale Road as the corridor for high capacity transit.
After the drafts are released, the alternatives presented will be discussed at a series of public hearings. The final plan is expected to meet city approval in June, Huish said.