A construction project to widen Power Road on the Mesa-Gilbert border is about much more than adding a couple of traffic lanes to the busy thoroughfare.
The work that’s getting underway this month will also pave the way for Mesa to raise the profile of the area as a high-tech center that generates high-wage jobs.
The $28.6 million project includes branding the so-called Power Knowledge Corridor with street signs that set the area apart from the rest of Mesa. The signs will go up initially as construction progresses, from the Loop 202 Santan Freeway to Pecos Road.
Vice Mayor Scott Somers said the city’s plans for the corridor are known within industry, economic development and educational circles. But the signs will help spread the message among residents and visitors, he said.
“Not only is it important to put a flag in the ground and say this is where we hope to focus some of our high-tech efforts in the future, it helps inform our residents what our economic development strategy is for the area,” Somers said.
The Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport is a driver for the corridor, with transportation links, aerospace companies and a defense research lab that Mesa took over at the former Air Force base. The city expects other high-tech companies and research activities will cluster in the area, where they will also have ties with Arizona State University Polytechnic and several other higher-educational institutions.
The Power Knowledge Corridor extends north to the Mesa Community College Red Mountain Campus on McKellips Road, but Somers said it may take years to post signs within the entire district.
The approach is similar to how Mesa began setting the Fiesta District apart with signs in 2010. The west Mesa area around Fiesta Mall will also be rebranded with a new streetscape as the city works to revitalize a struggling area with high retail vacancy rates.
Somers said the comparison only goes so far.
“What’s happening in Fiesta is going to be a reinvention,” he said “What’s happening in the Gateway area is going to be an emergence.”
The Power Road project will widen the street to three lanes in each direction and include raised medians. The work will continue until fall 2013. The Maricopa Association of Governments will fund about 70 percent of the work, or $15 million. The remaining costs will be shared equally by Mesa, Gilbert and Maricopa County.
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