Townhomes belonging to seniors will remain along a busy stretch of Chaparral Road between Miller Road and 78th Street, the result of the Scottsdale City Council’s Tuesday decision to reject any widening, condemnation or any other action that increases its traffic capacity.
But Tuesday’s vote solved little, and will have one of two results nonetheless:
• City officials will somehow be successful in diverting traffic from Chaparral to elsewhere. They will plan and install one or more traffic devices designed to accomplish this. Surrounding major streets may not suffer too much from the extra capacity, as a city staff produced May 18 traffic study projected, but other neighborhood streets are likely to feel the effects of diversion via more cut-through motorists.
Those who advocated for the council to wait for a citywide transportation study to be considered in July before acting on Chaparral argued that a piecemeal approach would have negative impacts on their neighborhoods. But it was to no avail.
• If the city is not successful in diverting traffic, the number of vehicles on Chaparral will start to increase. Several thousand residents are about to move into downtown condominiums and the opening of several more retail and dining establishments will bring more visitors downtown via Chaparral’s Loop 101 freeway exit. This will lead to even more noise, pollution and threats to safety to residents than they have been enduring for several years.
The second outcome is more likely. That means Villa Monterey residents keeping their homes would be living with a higher volume of vehicles, regardless of the council’s decree of no greater “capacity.” People drive where they feel they need to go, regardless of suggestions to the contrary.
In the end, the council found that the public relations quagmire that would have been created by forcing retirees in Villa Monterey from their homes was to be avoided, even if that meant intruding on people of all ages living within blocks of them, areas to which Chaparral Road traffic may be diverted. The politically unpalatable option of widening/condemnation was eliminated, not because such a thing is a bad idea, as those in the council majority asserted. It was deemed a good idea more than 10 years ago on McDonald Drive between 86th Street and Pima Road.
Even if, and this is a big if, the diversion from Chaparral is successful, another group of unnerved residents can be expected to petition the City Council about the increased traffic through their neighborhood, just as those from Villa Monterey did about theirs. And if traffic is not diverted, then the familiar faces of Villa Monterey residents will be back at City Hall soon, angrier than ever that Scottsdale didn’t make the cars go away.
Nothing happened Tuesday but the delay of the inevitable.