Tuesday, March 17, 2009

To get a Trader Joe's.......

First, let me point out that my blog is green and my name is Patrick--all in anticipation of this day, March 17th. Happy "wear green and drink dyed Budweiser products" Day!

On now to business..... I just read an article on one of GlobeSt.com's blogs about a Florida man who undertook a petition process to bring a Trader Joe's to his town: http://globestcommercialgrove.wordpress.com/2009/03/16/courting-trader-joe%E2%80%99s/

I must say that I like it. This sort of direct guerrilla-style approach is vaguely reminiscent of our Chipotle email campaign (or Chipatopolis, as Catherine and I call it--no clue why), and frankly, the best way for community members to be heard by the large national chains. Many people don't realize it, but this is exactly how our retail committee can work with members of the Laveen Association of HOA's and its members. As ideas bubble up from the masses, we can vote on where to concentrate our efforts and then begin a focused campaign.

As you will see in my yet-to-be posted article about the Local Laveen event in May, I would prefer to focus on small mom n' pop businesses for now. But that doesn't mean we can afford to forget a proactive approach in guiding national retailers who will inevitably end up here as well. Even die-hard independent types, like myself, have a few standby options for groceries, department stores, or whatever the case may be. So we should make sure that they move here before their less desirable counterparts; and a petition campaign is a great way to do it.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Interim Post: How About that Freeway?

It seems that the powers that be in Ahwatukee are back at work to oppose our beloved Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway again. And they should be since it's one of, if not the, largest public works projects awaiting funding in Arizona. And that means that it would be a great target for federal stimulus dollars because it has the ability to create so many local jobs for our deeply impacted construction workers.

So what do they offer as an alternative? A parkway. Yes, that's right--a Michigan style parkway that has intersections, but no left turns. This is hardly a compromise, when you consider the following:

1) Insufficient capacity relief for cross-Phoenix traffic.
2) More frequent stops for regional and local traffic, which means more air and noise pollution.
3) No left turns means greater trip distances for local traffic.
4) Greater regional traffic overflow onto neighboring residential streets.
5) Insufficient relief for Ahwatukee residents' complaints.

At the end of the day, we know that the right answer is to build the freeway. It's clear that ADOT and MAG have convinced Ahwatukee community leaders and other local holdouts that some kind of bypass is needed. So I can't imagine why these same leaders have reverted to a proposed plan that we already turned down back in 2003.

Here's the original article, from Ahwatukee Foothills News:

Parkway may edge out freeway for Loop 202

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Ahwatukee Foothills News

The idea of parkways replacing freeways is starting to gain some traction in Arizona's transportation community, mainly due to massive budget woes, more than $5 billion in Maricopa County alone, that make traditional freeways too expensive.

And the South Mountain Loop 202 may be the guinea pig in the parkway debate.

"We still have to make certain we're in a situation where we don't create more problems than we solve," said Bob Hazlett, a senior traffic engineer with the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG), who said there still needs to be a lot of study on the parkway concept.

The idea is to duplicate what is commonly called a "Michigan parkway" design, where traffic isn't allowed to make left turns at intersections. (See an example here.)

Instead, motorists travel past the intersection, then move into a turn lane in the median, where they in effect complete a U-turn then move to the right and exit onto the cross street, thanks to the large gaps in traffic that the no-left turn rule creates.

An added benefit to a parkway, Hazlett said, is that by eliminating left turns at intersections, the number of crashes are reduced because there are only 16 possible movements at an intersection instead of 32.

While a parkway isn't a magic bullet in the transportation engineer's arsenal, it does have advantages, including:

* Less land is needed because there are fewer lanes and water retention can be contained in the 60-foot-wide median.

* They generally require basic signalized intersections instead of expensive on and off ramps, as long as traffic volumes are low on the cross streets.

* A parkway carries more traffic per day than an equally sized surface street because there are fewer delays due to no left turns.

"I like the concept," said Councilman Sal DiCiccio, although he wants more details.

Jim Jochim, an opponent of the Loop 202 on Pecos Road, is wary of the parkway substitute because he said there are many questions that haven't been answered, including:

* How a parkway would cut through ridges in South Mountain Park that the Gila River Indian Community consider sacred.

* How a parkway with 90,000 vehicles a day could fill the requirements for a freeway that the Arizona Department of Transportation said was needed to carry an estimated 190,000 vehicles a day.

* What impact a parkway would have on schools that back onto or are within a block of two of the proposed road.

Hazlett also admits there are questions that need studying.

The Pecos Road stretch of the proposed Loop 202 has no cross traffic. So if signals are installed preventing left turns from 32nd Street or 40th Street onto Pecos Road it would seem superfluous.

At the same time, there are major streets, including Van Buren Street and Lower Buckeye Road, that cross the proposed Loop 202 in the West Valley that would require the more expensive traditional freeway interchanges.

But it's not clear if even a parkway design can cut the cost enough to save the Loop 202.

Originally priced at just under $1 billion, by 2003 it was up to $1.1 billion and is now estimated to cost $2.4 billion, a 40 percent increase in two years and a 120 percent increase in roughly five years.

And with all projects in the voter-approved Proposition 400 more expensive than expected, some projects may have to be abandoned.

MAG will look at the transportation projects included in Proposition 400 and consider maintaining the current schedule, but extending it over more than the original 20-year timeline, reducing the scope of projects or blending both ideas.

Hazlett said a final decision on revamping the Valley's transposition plan may not come until fall.

Then the Arizona Department of Transportation would need to re-write some portions of a draft environmental impact statement it has been working on over the past few years to take into account any changes to the scope and design of the Loop 202 before asking for federal approval and seeking public comment.