Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

My apology for not posting blogs recently. The combination of rejuvenating our kitchen with new tile and paint in addition to an extraordinarily busy council schedule left me little time to think much less do the research needed for many of my blog posts.

However, the kitchen is completed and slowly coming back to some semblance of order. For those of you who have ever tackled a major home project, you will understand the chaos and confusion that overtakes everything.

Last Tuesday, November 7, 2017 the city council had a major agenda item up for discussion – the city’s Transportation Plan 2018-2042 draft. Here is the link:  https://destinyhosted.com/glenddocs/2017/AACC/20171107_103/422_Transportation_Plan_DRAFT_v2%20Upload.pdf . At nearly 400 pages, it is a thorough and ambitious document laying out plans for the city’s transportation needs for the next 25 years. A 25 year transportation plan seems to be quite ambitious and assumptions made now may not be accurate in the future. It would seem a more definitive and realistic approach to plan now and to specifically consider priorities and funding needs for the next 5 to 10 years (out to 2023 or 2028). On page 1-7 of the plan, it is acknowledged that, “future estimates can fluctuate.

Page 1-9 lists overarching goals of the plan:

  • enhance quality of life
  • personal mobility
  • move goods
  • promote economic development
  • interconnect transportation modes
  • minimize auto travel
  • maintain the system
  • manage the system
  • improve safety
  • local transit improvements

Page 2-5 identifies the heaviest population concentrations in Glendale to be generally 43rd Avenue to 83rd Avenue and generally south of Glendale Avenue. From the MAG (Maricopa Association of Government) statistical data seniors, low income and persons without vehicles are located in south Glendale. These statistics make the case for the enhancement of mobility for that area’s residents, especially in terms of bus mobility.  On page 2-12 the plan agrees with this assumption, “Communities of concern are concentrated in the area between 43rd Avenue and 75th Avenue and Camelback Road to Peoria Avenue…focusing modes of transportation to serve these areas can meet the objectives of providing a complete transportation system to all residents.”

Page 3-1 states, “Therefore it is important that the entire network be completed to maximize the value of the overall investment.” While that may be true it is unrealistic to state without adding the verbiage  “incrementally.” On the same page it states, “These factors in tandem with increases in traffic volumes have rendered existing performance standards obsolete.” Then why are these same obsolete standards the basis of this entire plan? What standards should be used and why were they not in this plan?

 Again, on the same page, it states, “Solving street and intersection LOS (Level of Service) deficiencies will be especially challenging if even feasible in the more established areas of Glendale.” On page 2-12 it states this same area comprises “communities of concern.” There appears to be a dichotomy of thought. On the one hand “communities of concern” are identified along with the need to provide a “complete transportation system to all residents” and on the other the case is being made that it may not be “feasible” to improve these very same intersections.

Staff is asking for a major council policy decision (one of several). It hinges on the question of what is the acceptable Level of Service (LOS) for our streets and intersections.  Currently Glendale has an adopted LOS of “C.” The plan states that by 2042 the vast majority of the city’s streets will remain at an LOS of A-C. There are only 11 segments identified in the entire city as deteriorating to LOS D, E-F. Staff contends that retaining a standard LOS of C  is a matter of money. They state the cost of raising these 11 intersections to LOS C will be very costly and not worth the investment. They say that many of the Valley cities have accepted and LOS of D. Interestingly, Peoria continues to retain an LOS of C. One question: Are we in a race to the bottom with other communities? If they jump off the bridge should we do likewise?

Pages 3-50 and 3-51 raise the question of why there are no capacity improvements identified for Glendale Avenue from the Loop 101 east to 43rd Avenue or for Bethany Home Road from 83rd Avenue to 43rd Avenue? Both are directly impacted by Westgate traffic. Are we waiting until we have another Bell Road corridor? On page 3-51 other streets impacted by Westgate traffic are Camelback Road/59th to 99th; 83rd Avenue/Glendale to Northern; and 91st Avenue/Glendale to Orangewood. It would appear that these streets are immediately in need of capacity improvement to satisfy the needs of visitors to Westgate and the area as it continues to grow and to add such elements as IKEA and TopGolf.

Page 3-59 has Glendale Avenue scheduled for FY 2018. Why all the way out to Litchfield Road? Why not just to GRPSTC? Glendale Avenue to the Landfill experiences not just the volume but some of the heaviest equipment. Have we ever considered the use of concrete at that location? It is used back East extensively. Although the initial cost may be slightly higher, it is more durable and over time will require less costly maintenance.

Page 4-9 identifies 539 bus stops throughout the city:

  • 278 have a sign only
  • 30 have a sign and trash container
  • 53 have a bench and trash container
  • 178 have a shelter and trash container

Bus transit (in lieu of the fact that council has declined to pursue light rail at the present time) should be a primary priority for the city. Many of the bus stops are a disgrace. If the city truly wants to encourage more ridership then the majority of the bus stops should be attractive enough to encourage ridership. Shelters are a necessity in the Arizona heat.

Page 4-12. Obviously the ridership counts on Routes 50 and 70 demonstrate the need for more bus transit to serve the low socio-economic communities in the city. If we cannot “feasibly” remediate traffic issues in these areas then it is incumbent upon us to provide greater mass transit.

Page 4-22 discusses Commuter Rail. Glendale has never taken the lead in making this form of mass transit a priority yet over 70% of our residents work outside of Glendale. It’s been studied to death but no action has been taken.

Page 6-4 identifies the use of 4 HAWKs throughout the entire city. These are mechanisms that allow safe pedestrian crossing of major arterial streets.  There is one such device on Glendale Avenue east of 67th Avenue. These have proven themselves and it is time to identify new locations. There is no mention of such a strategy.

Page 6-9. ITS/TSM objectives are very aggressive in terms of goals and a completion date of 2022. Technology may be sexy but a large portion of the funds programmed should be reprogrammed to bus transit and other forms of mass transit. Why is this the only area planned to be completed within 5 years when all of the other transportation needs may not be met until 2042?

Page 7-9 projects an increase of 60 additional aircraft based at the airport from 2015 to 2035 (20 years) and if that is the city’s target it  is abysmal. Frankly it’s an embarrassment. The airport strategies and initiatives are fully funded in this plan. Under those circumstances, the city should be developing the East side of the airport now and then aggressively marketing it immediately. In order to succeed in its development it requires a major and substantial ad campaign after development occurs.

Page 8-16 shows an allocation of $5.08 M over 24 years for transportation education. I do not consider this activity to be a priority and would like to see these funds reduced considerably and reprogrammed.

This draft transportation plan has major implications for every Glendale resident. I urge you to take the time to read it and share your opinions on the draft with all members of the city council at:

  • jweiers@glendaleaz.com
  • ihugh@glendaleaz.com
  • rmalnar@glendaleaz.com
  • jclark@glendaleaz.com
  • ltolmachoff@glendaleaz.com
  • bturner@glendaleaz.com
  • jaldama@glendaleaz.com

There is still time for you to weigh in on this draft plan. City council will have at least one more workshop on this topic.

© Joyce Clark, 2017                 

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