Getting There: Jammed Rural Road presents transit problems - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Getting There: Jammed Rural Road presents transit problems

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Posted: Saturday, June 14, 2008 9:22 pm | Updated: 8:53 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Rural Road is tough for transit options When it comes to getting vehicles off gridlocked Rural Road, transportation planners are finding it's jammed if they do and jammed if they don't.

During public meetings held last week about mass transit possibilities in Tempe and Chandler, it was shown that Rural carries the most traffic of that area's north-south arterials. Between Apache Boulevard and Broadway Road, the average daily traffic count is nearly 48,600; about 800 fewer vehicles travel between Southern Avenue and U.S. 60.

Click to view a map road work in the Valley

Making matters worse are sections of Rural itself. In that packed Apache-to-Broadway stretch, Rural is cut by a railroad crossing, unlike the grade separations at Mill Avenue and McClintock Drive. Heading south from Baseline Road, Rural goes from six lanes to four.

Demand on the Valley Metro bus system is high, Metro planner Marc Soronson said, but these buses frequently are forced to wait at intersections through as many as four traffic light cycles.

Bus Rapid Transit and light rail are under discussion as options, but creating room for either system is problematic. For example, on Southern near the Tempe Public Library, a past widening project pushed Rural practically to the edge of homes.

Finally, light rail brings about a unique difficulty. Extending a line past Southern would require an expensive bridge over U.S. 60; for a financial point of comparison, Soronson said Metro's span over Tempe Town Lake cost $15 million.

Could all these issues potentially disqualify Rural from mass transit improvements?

Replied Soronson: "No, because that's where the demand is."

USING GAS PRICES TO SELL YOU SOMETHING

For companies willing to walk the line between marketing and exploitation, there's money to be made from your pain at the pump.

Recently, Getting There received two e-mails from public relations firms trying to drum up interest in their clients' wares - and both used the hook of skyrocketing gas prices.

The first took something of a roundabout approach before unleashing the sales pitch. Follow this: Due to the rising cost of filling the tank, more people will be taking public transportation. Among those riding the buses will be criminals. That is why, more than ever, transit agencies need to equip their vehicles with video surveillance systems sold, coincidentally, by the company hiring the PR firm sending out this e-mail.

The second missive, sent on behalf of a consumer electronics giant, was more straightforward. Available for purchase are GPS devices that can search for the lowest gas price nearby, car radio alternatives and "must-have commuter gear" including MP3 players, smart phones and other wireless devices.

GILBERT PUTS STREET WIDENING ON HOLD

A planned streets project that will widen several "scalloped streets" in north Gilbert will have to wait a few more months. The Town Council voted to reject all bids on an approximately $9 million project to widen several sections of roads.

Town staff members were prepared to go with Hunter Contracting to do the work for just under $9.2 million.

But a competitor, FNF Construction, protested. According to Jed Billings, FNF's chief executive, Hunter's bid was incomplete and therefore, ineligible to be awarded the contract.

There was only $47,000 difference between the two companies' bids.

Council members voted to reject both bids and go through the entire process again.

That will delay the project up to 45 days.

CLOSURES AND RESTRICTIONS

North and southbound turn lanes will be restricted on Higley Road between Houston Avenue and Baseline Road.

Southbound traffic will be restricted to one lane on Higley, from south of Ray Road to Vest Avenue.

All four directions at Higley and Germann roads will be restricted, with no left turns allowed for northbound and southbound Higley.

Traffic will be restricted to one lane on eastbound Guadalupe Road between McQueen and Cooper roads.

Queen Creek Road is closed from Arizona Avenue to McQueen Road through Sept. 28 while crews widen the road to six lanes.

Queen Creek Road between Crismon and Signal Butte roads remains closed while crews continue work on the Gilbert CAP waterline.

Crews will be working on street improvements in the area of Chandler Heights and Hawes roads.

Ellsworth Road between Germann and Queen Creek roads will be closed next weekend for street widening. Traffic will be detoured for this closure using Rittenhouse, Sossaman and Germann roads.

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