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oliveurban
Nov 26, 2006, 10:54 AM
Railroad touts expansion
Union Pacific builds parallel track; yard at Picacho under fire

Mark Shaffer
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 26, 2006

Union Pacific railroad's multimillion-dollar project to build a second parallel track across Arizona, which is more than half complete, is expected to cut gridlock and help freight flow through the state.

Crowded rail lines have been a chronic problem since the late 1990s because of a huge surge in the use of rail to move products from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to points east. Goods from Chinese and other Asian companies are responsible for most of the increase in traffic.

The railroad says it needs one more piece to make the system work in Arizona: a $180 million rail-switching yard to complement the yards in Phoenix and Tucson, which are operating at capacity.

The switching yard, located 80 miles south of downtown Phoenix, would offer expanded loading and unloading opportunities, especially for southeast Valley manufacturers, Union Pacific officials said.

The proposed location, however, is already drawing controversy.

The second line through the state is essential because the number of trains per day has nearly doubled to 49 in less than a decade, Union Pacific officials said. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway also has had a similar growth curve to more than 100 trains a day through Kingman, Flagstaff and other points in northern Arizona.

A shortage of truck drivers nationally also has exacerbated the problem. American Trucking Association officials say there is a shortage of 20,000 drivers in the industry, and that is expected to grow to 100,000 during the next decade.

"We've tried a lot of things to relieve the congestion, from more and more cars left on side tracks to double-stacking as many as 100 rail cars per trip," said Joe Arbona, a Union Pacific spokesman. "But with demand for Asian goods increasing 8 to 10 percent a year, we haven't been able to keep up with the growth with a single track."

Arizona is part of Union Pacific's Sunset Route from Los Angeles to El Paso before the line branches to various cities east.

The second track is being built in existing right of way, with most of the work completed between Gila Bend and the California line, and Tucson and the New Mexico line. Most of the work remaining is in south-central Arizona, including where the switching yard would be constructed.

The company would not give a specific figure for the cost of the track expansion beyond "tens of millions" of dollars.

Picacho Peak protest

Union Pacific's aggressive pursuit of purchasing nearly 1,500 acres of state trust land to build the rail-switching yard in an undeveloped area near Picacho Peak State Park has stirred up a hornet's nest of protest.

The Pinal County Board of Supervisors is expected to vote at its meeting Monday whether to rezone the land for heavy industrial use. If approved, that would kick-start negotiations between Union Pacific and the state for the land, which parallels Interstate 10.

Mark Davis, a Union Pacific spokesman in Omaha, Neb., said the company has been searching for more than three years trying to find a new switching site, "and this one is by far the best because the land is already level and there's very little else out there."

"It seems like everywhere else we've looked at there have been conflicts, whether it's been other development, cemeteries or large arroyos and rivers in the landscape," he said.

If the deal is completed, it would be one of more than 90 rail yards that Union Pacific has around the country, Davis said, adding that just more than one-third of the land would be used for rail cars and track and the rest for a buffer zone and future growth. The switching yard would employ 290 workers, 200 who now work at the railway's facilities in Tucson and 90 who would be new hires. Davis said the yard would be about three miles long.

The Pinal County Planning and Zoning Commission voted down the idea of the switching yard at a meeting last month. That followed residents in the Picacho Peak area starting a "save the peak" campaign, creating a Web site and plastering billboards along I-10 with anti-Union Pacific themes.

D.C. "Rooster" Cogburn, an area rancher, said the railroad plans are the most traumatic thing to happen to the area since hot-air balloons panicked his ostrich herd and resulted in the deaths of 100 of them during a stampede six years ago.

"This is a pristine valley, and they've really set the house on fire by completely trying to alter this area and forcing it down our throats," he said.

Herb Kai, who currently leases the land from the state and grows cotton, said he has stored thousands of acre-feet of groundwater beneath the site for the Arizona Water Banking Authority. In addition to the noise and night-light impact on the state park, Kai fears for the groundwater because of the potential for accidents and chemical and fuel spills at the switching yard.

But Davis said Union Pacific has not decided whether the switching yard will be used as a fueling station.

Jamie Hogue, deputy state land commissioner, said the land department is determined to sell the property because it is mandated by state law to determine the "highest and best use" of the land. Hogue said that means selling some property bordering major highways, but that no appraisal had yet been conducted on the land.

"It would be tough arriving at a value for it because we haven't sold anything in that area for more than a decade," Hogue said, adding that the Land Department owns more than 10,000 acres in the Picacho Peak area.

Hogue and Davis said Union Pacific could make a case to claim eminent domain over the land, which would eliminate any local zoning control, but Davis said "that's definitely the last option we would consider."

Hogue said the best scenario for the state would be to sell the land by the end of 2007.

"But if the Board of Supervisors rejects this proposal, we are going to have to huddle again and come up with another approach. In the end, we will have to weigh all the interests and then take it to public auction," Hogue said.

Spur for development?

Mike Anable, a former state land commissioner who is representing Kai, said he questions how much economic development would happen around a switching yard. The project has been supported by economic development groups in nearby Casa Grande.

"From what I've seen, there are no plans for ancillary businesses there. It's strictly a switching yard to move trains," Anable said.

"It's been like all of a sudden Union Pacific comes along and, boom, we're talking heavy industrial development around a state park where hikers climb to try to get away from it all," Anable said.

"It's definitely being pushed on the fast track when what we need is an extensive, deliberate study of this."

combusean
Nov 26, 2006, 4:01 PM
^ The "save the peak" campaign has merits--they are proposing to plop this thing basically next door, but thwarting development around Picacho Peak is a fool's chase--the people are coming.

Industry like UP is sorely needed for the state's competitveness, and where you have functioning freight rail networks you have functioning passenger rail networks. Ranchers and preservationists should focus their resources on real alternatives to congestion on I-10/I-8 which I'm certain is far more damaging to the desert than any rail yard UP could be build. To that end, the proposed yard could give UP the capacity to allow high quality commuter service in three counties.

I'm sure there are ways to mitigate the yard's environmental impact that could be factored into the sale price of the land, but UP seriously needs to open up to commuter rail if we are to permit such major operations surrounded by largely untouched desert.

Azndragon837
Nov 27, 2006, 9:29 AM
Some Transportation News.....

Circulator buses will pump up communities

Monica Alonzo-Dunsmoor
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 27, 2006 12:00 AM

Article Link (http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/1127movingaround1127.htm)

Phoenix is bringing a transportation first to the Valley by rolling out smaller buses in several communities to get residents to neighborhood hotspots, cut down on local traffic and tie into major bus lines.

While other Valley cities, including Glendale, Scottsdale and Tempe, have buses that run looped routes in and around their downtowns, Phoenix is expected to have eight neighborhood shuttles online by 2008.

"Part of the intent is to encourage people to leave their cars behind - to lessen car use," said Marie Chapple Camacho, a spokeswoman for Phoenix Public Transit Department. "There are areas that are pretty congested, and if you take some cars off the road, it helps."

She said the smaller circulator buses also will navigate neighborhood streets that regular buses can't squeeze through and will make stops at regularly visited destinations.

"People will like it because it brings the circulators (buses) closer to homes," Chapple Camacho said.

Such neighborhood service is already available in Ahwatukee Foothills, where Phoenix launched its first neighborhood circulator service five years ago. Since then, the 40-mile route in the southeast Phoenix community has been a hit with residents.

Sue Phlipot, 47, said the Ahwatukee Local Explorer, or ALEX, has been wonderful, especially for the youth in the community. She said Greg, her 15-year-old son, rides it often and spent nearly every day last summer zipping around to shopping malls, the local YMCA and the movie theater.

"It gives them a chance to be independent," she said. "It provides them transportation at different times of the day, to school and back home if they stay after school. For those in high school and who are a little older but don't have cars, they use ALEX to get to their jobs or to the library."

City officials are hoping for similar success in other parts of the city.

Phoenix is planning to unveil more neighborhood buses in Maryvale and Sunnyslope by mid- to late 2007. Those will be followed in 2008 by others in the following areas: Desert Ridge, Desert Sky, Laveen, South Mountain and northwest Phoenix.

The small buses will cost $50,000 to $65,000, depending on the model, and 20 will be ordered this year. Each route will get more than one bus.

Annual operating costs are expected to be about $600,000 per route.

Residents of Desert Ridge in northeast Phoenix are already meeting to discuss possible routes and potential stops.

"The growth has been totally phenomenal," said Nick Meris, vice chairman of the Desert Ridge Homeowners' Network and a member of a committee that will help decide on the routes and stops.

He said the shuttles will "move people from one area to another without them having to get in their car, driving a short distance and then having difficulty finding a place to park."

The service will be a boon to residents of the 5,700-acre community that now has about 2,500 homes and a vibrant mix of commercial and retail development.

In other cities, circulators are geared toward moving shoppers and visitors around downtown shops, restaurants and other businesses.

The Scottsdale Trolley is a bus that meanders through the city's downtown art and shopping districts.

In Tempe, circulator buses zip around Arizona State University and make some stops in nearby neighborhoods.

Glendale's shuttles run through its historic downtown and weave into some neighborhood streets, but mostly stick to major thoroughfares.

Glendale transportation officials are contemplating the idea of adding shuttles to bridge the four-mile gap between the city's historic downtown, known for antique shops and restaurants, and its blossoming sports and entertainment district.

"We have to do everything we can to make that connection," said Julie Frisoni, a Glendale spokeswoman. "It's for more than just the residents. Many of the people out there will be visitors, and we have to make it seamless, make it easy for them to get downtown."

Making it easier for people to get around is the bottom line.

"Our goal in public transit is to provide additional options," said Councilman Greg Stanton, who represents Ahwatukee Foothills. "It's not just about traditional buses, but it includes convenience services, like neighborhood circulators and light rail, which is coming soon. They an important part of the transportation spectrum."

=============================================

Finally....this is the first step in providing comprehensive bus service to communities, especially the ones where the bigger bus routes cannot squeeze into the smaller streets, and provide service to those who live smack in the middle of the grid system (too far away to walk to an arterial street). It's a good step in the right direction, and although a shuttle won't directly service my neighborhood (35th Avenue and Missouri, in the Alhambra community), it will serve others that really need it, like Maryvale. Add this, along with expanded bus service and the light rail system, and you will start to have a much better transportation service in place...better than before, that's for sure.

-Andrew

JimInCal
Nov 28, 2006, 9:32 PM
I know US Airways is a Tempe-based airline but this really is a regional issue with significant implications if it happens. This would make US Air the largest US carrier. Wouldn't that be something to have the headquarters in the metro area. I'm getting way ahead of myself, but one would think they would require much more office space to accomodate the expanded company. No offense to Tempe (you know we love you) but this could be the mega-headquarters opportunity the powers-that-be in downtown Phoenix salivate over. That elusive major corporate headquarters tower ...one can dream. :rolleyes:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061128/ap_on_bi_ge/delta_us_airways

US Airways plans pitch for Delta bid
By HARRY R. WEBER, AP Business Writer
24 minutes ago

ATLANTA - US Airways Group Inc. will pitch its $8.6 billion unsolicited offer for Delta Air Lines Inc. in a meeting this week with Delta and the committee representing the unsecured creditors in Delta's bankruptcy case, a lawyer for the committee said Tuesday.

The lawyer, Daniel Golden, said in a telephone interview that the committee's advisers will be present at the meeting in New York, along with US Airways officials and Delta senior executives.

Neither Golden nor spokesmen for Atlanta-based Delta and Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airways would say what day the meeting will take place.

Golden said the creditors committee will go into the meeting with an open mind, even as Delta has said it opposes a merger and hopes to emerge from bankruptcy in the first half of next year as a standalone company. The head of Delta's pilots union has expressed support for Delta's plan. The union is a member of the creditors committee.

"We have great respect for Delta's management," Golden said. "We think they've done a very good job in Chapter 11. But at the end of the day we're going to make a determination about what works best for the estate and the unsecured creditors."

The meeting will be the first between all three sides since US Airways made its hostile bid for Delta public on Nov. 15. It will give US Airways an opportunity to pitch its offer directly to the creditors.

"I assume they are going to explain their rationale for the plan and the synergies they suggest ... and the hurdles they see and how they intend to deal with those hurdles," Golden said.

No timetable has been put on when the creditors committee will make a decision on whether it will support the US Airways offer or Delta's standalone plan, Golden said. Delta still must file its formal reorganization plan, which it expects to do by next month.

Golden said the creditors will weigh the pros and cons of the offer against any other offers that may come in and the merits of Delta's standalone plan.

"We have a job to do, which is to maximize recoveries for unsecured creditors," Golden said. He declined to say if any other airline has made an offer to buy Delta.

US Airways sent another newsletter to its employees Monday explaining the regulatory issues that will be considered by the government in deciding whether to approve the deal. The company stated again its belief that there still would be plenty of competition after a US Airways-Delta deal.

loftlovr
Nov 30, 2006, 2:03 PM
http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/1130westextend1130.html

Light rail may come early to West Valley
Metro may move up timetable by 4 years

Sean Holstege
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 30, 2006 12:00 AM


Efforts are gathering steam to send light rail out to traffic-weary suburban commuters four years early.

Today, the Metro board will take steps that would allow an 11-mile extension west along Interstate 10 to open as early as 2015. It's a goal shared by Phoenix City Hall and many West Valley commuters.

The extension will not solve all the freeway's traffic congestion, partly because light rail would stop just east of Loop 101 and development west of there continues at a rapid pace.

But regional officials say it will ease the woes. Even a tiny reduction in cars on a freeway can greatly lessen congestion, traffic engineers say. Plus, I-10 rail plans are moving ahead in tandem with plans to widen the freeway.

The efforts represent the Valley's sometimes frantic attempts to keep up with growth as far-flung development outpaces the area's ability to build a transportation system.

The Metro board today is expected to seek federal study money for the first time and agree to launch that study in January rather than 2011.

That is possible because Phoenix has offered to jump-start the study with as much as $6 million in upfront money.

Among the options being examined: using buses or some kind of rail, and running transit down the I-10 median, along the freeway or through a nearby neighborhood.

"We'd like to have the I-10 extension opened today," said Ed Zuercher, chief of staff for Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon. "We have the opportunity, because of our local tax (revenue), to push this one up."

The I-10 route isn't scheduled to open until 2019, after extensions open in Tempe, Mesa, north Phoenix toward Metrocenter mall and into downtown Glendale.

Metro officials insist they don't want to change that voter-mandated sequence, which would take a majority vote of all the cities in the region.

But the I-10 line is gaining prominence in city halls for three reasons: rapidly increasing traffic, state plans to widen the interstate and the opening of University of Phoenix Stadium and Westgate Center in Glendale.


Request for $13 million
In its request, Metro will ask the federal government for $13 million to study all extensions due to open before 2020 except one. Not listed was the proposed downtown Glendale line. Glendale's mayor and business leaders have said they would prefer that the rail go to Westgate Center.

Every year, I-10 traffic congestion worsens. In 2005, about 174,000 cars traveled I-10 past 83rd Avenue, according to the Maricopa Association of Governments. By 2009, the number will grow to 208,000. Traffic there will have increased 86 percent in a little more than a decade, the group says.

The three most popular destinations for I-10 commuters from west of Loop 101 are downtown Phoenix, uptown along Central Avenue and Sky Harbor International Airport, data from the county group shows. All destinations will be served by the light-rail system due to open in late 2008.

Trains in the freeway would attract commuters because stations would be spaced every two miles, allowing faster service than is possible on the denser 20-mile starter line.

Meanwhile, the Arizona Department of Transportation is planning to expand the clogged freeway and will launch its own study next summer. The state reserved 50 feet in the median, enough for light rail. There is also reserved easement on the side of the interstate.

Between the I-10 and I-17 juncture and Loop 101, there is room for an extra lane and light rail, in addition to the existing HOV lane. Between Loops 101 and 303, there is room, money and current plans for adding two lanes and extending the HOV lane west.

Without disrupting those plans, light rail could extend farther west only if tracks take a flyover bridge to the side.

West of Loop 303, there are plans for only one extra freeway lane.

Avondale officials said the city is interested in anything that relieves I-10 congestion, including an unplanned rail extension beyond Loop 101.

The Maricopa Association of Governments says light rail would lose its effectiveness if it went too much farther, adding commuter rail on freight tracks is a better option for suburbs such as Buckeye.

Metro's study also is being prompted by ADOT's freeway widening plans.

"We have an opportunity to coordinate with ADOT on a project they need and we need," Metro Project Development Director Wulf Grote said.


A visit to Denver
Metro, ADOT and MAG recently visited Denver to see how its transit agency coordinated with Colorado's Department of Transportation to build the T-REX extension.

The $1.7 billion combo freeway expansion and new light-rail line opened earlier this month, nearly two years ahead of schedule. The joint effort saved $300 million.

Many of the stations in Denver were built to the side of the freeway. Grote's team recently concluded that the center of I-10 would work better.

But real answers won't be known until after the two-year study. It will tell planners the best options for how and where to put transit.

Historically, such studies tend to reinforce the prevailing wisdom and conclude that connecting to light rail with a different form of transit creates an undesirable transfer.

Sekkle
Nov 30, 2006, 4:10 PM
Metro may move up timetable by 4 years
...
Historically, such studies tend to reinforce the prevailing wisdom and conclude that connecting to light rail with a different form of transit creates an undesirable transfer.

That's good news. I hope they do accelerate it. I think I-10 on the west side is probably the most chronically congested freeway in the Valley (along with I-17 north of the 101). The benefit-cost ratio for this segment was among the highest of any transit corridor in MAG's High Capacity Transit Study that was done a few years ago. The last sentence in the article kind of surprised me... I guess I can understand it, though, especially with the grid system we have - if you want to get to Central Phx from the west side using transit, it's probably easier to just take one bus to Central Ave. I would think there would be a much greater need for park & ride lots along an I-10 LRT route than along the 20-mile starter segment they're building now. Anyway, good news - maybe we'll get a T-Rex of our own!

oliveurban
Dec 1, 2006, 2:34 PM
I guess I still don't agree that I-10 West's median is the best answer for LRT to the Westgate-area.

Sekkle
Dec 1, 2006, 3:30 PM
I think the point is more to relieve I-10 congestion and for people in West Phoenix than to serve Westgate. Westgate and the developments around it may add traffic to I-10, but the LRT would help with commuting options for people in Maryvale, etc. When studies looking at transit (MAG's High Capacity Transit Study and the Regional Transit System Study) were completed in 2003, Westgate was nowhere in sight and the I-10 corridor still had the best rating in terms of cost effectiveness - that is, the number of people and the "environmental justice" population (disabled, low income, minorities, elderly) it would serve compared to the cost.

The Regional Transportation Plan identified an "Eligible High Capacity Corridor" from I-10 to Bethany Home Rd. along the 101, which would serve the Westgate area. I don't think there would be a more efficient way to bring LRT to Westgate... if they were to branch off from the 19th Ave section of the starter segment along Bethany Home Rd. (as originally proposed to serve downtown Glendale) to the 101, it would be a much longer extension, with much more invasive construction since it would likely run in the middle of a surface street instead of alongside or in the median of a freeway.

combusean
Dec 1, 2006, 5:32 PM
If you run the LRT completely up the 10/101, that eliminates any chance of TOD, plus the chance to effectively use Desert Sky Mall as a regional transit hub/park and ride/etc.

Down I-10 is probably the best route between DSM and downtown, but if you run your finger from DSM to as far north as Bell Rd, there's a whole bunch of stuff that would be well served by a line on 83rd/91st Ave.

How do they expect LRT to do any good in the 101 corridor when there aren't even connecting buses?

Sekkle
Dec 1, 2006, 5:53 PM
I agree that, in terms of transit modes, LRT might make more sense on a city street (83rd or 91st or wherever) than a freeway (with heavy rail a more sensible option for a freeway median), but I wouldn't say running LRT in freeway right of way eliminates the opportunity for TOD. Maybe you won't have lofts or offices directly overlooking the rail line and pretty streetscapes focused on the rail, but you can still develop the area within ~1/2 mile of the rail as a more dense area. The idea is that people could walk to the stops. While I know that people here don't like to walk much, I don't think there's a major difference in walking 1/4 mile vs. walking 200' out your office door. Running rail in freeway right of way, especially in the median, has the potential to make the trip much more efficient, since the trains wouldn't have to deal with street lights, etc.

As far as the connecting buses in the 101 corridor, by the time the rail is extended to Westgate, which will be quite a while, the bus system will certainly connect all major city streets in that area.

JimInCal
Dec 3, 2006, 11:16 PM
http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/index.php?sty=79968

Here's a long article from the East Valley Trib this morning by Donna Hogan. It is a good update of the current state of US Airway's hostile takeover bid for Delta. I only excerpted a small section regarding the future headquarters and hub issues. If this goes through, Phoenix/Tempe would score quite a coo if the headquarters were in the metro area...probably a long shot verses Atlanta. :fingerscrossed: :fingerscrossed: :fingerscrossed:

HEADQUARTERS AND HUBS

"Whether a merged airline would land in US Airways’ Tempe headquarters or Delta’s Atlanta home are only of concern to the two hometown markets.

US Airways spokeswoman Andrea Rader said a decision about that is not even on the company’s radar screen yet. Economic development experts in both markets may be working feverishly on their pitches, with thousands of jobs — and considerable prestige — at stake. But US Airways has more immediate issues to work on first, Rader said.

"We’ve not been actively lobbied,” Rader said. “But people are letting us know their cities are fabulous.”

And Rader said both places would still have plenty of US Airways employees, regardless of the headquarters location.

“No matter where we end up, we will have a substantial presence in both cities,” she said.

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport would unquestionably remain major hubs. Not so other cities, said Calyon Securities airline analyst Ray Neidl. US Airways hub Charlotte, N.C., is too close to Delta hub Atlanta. Delta’s Salt Lake City hub is too close to Phoenix."

HX_Guy
Dec 13, 2006, 4:51 AM
City talks of train station rebirth
Downtown landmark eyed for shopping, dining

Angela Cara Pancrazio
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 13, 2006 12:00 AM

For more than two decades, the city has eyed the potential of Phoenix's Union Station. With all of its space and its Mission Revival architecture, the 1923 rail-passenger center could be a city centerpiece filled with shops, restaurants and artists, officials have proposed.

That vision never came to fruition.

The last train carrying passengers pulled out of the station in the mid-1990s. In recent years, the station has been inaccessible to the public. There's a security fence ringing the building because Sprint owns it and stores equipment in it.
advertisement


But lately, with the renaissance of downtown Phoenix, Sprint and the city's Historic Preservation Office are talking about what is the best use for the building.

"Now there's momentum for something to happen," said Barbara Stocklin, the city's historic preservation officer.

From the beginning, Phoenix's Union Station was designed to be a high-profile building in the city's core, Stocklin said.

"Downtown is at a crossroads and Sprint is at a crossroads - that's always good," Stocklin said.

"If Sprint's interested in doing something else, it's good timing."

Sitting on Harrison Street at Fourth Avenue, the station borders the southwestern fringe of downtown's warehouse district. Over the past several years, the district has slowly reinvented itself with a handful of galleries, restaurants and lofts.

"You could do just about anything with the station," Stocklin said.

It could be restored for its original use, she said, as a commuter rail station and a transportation hub with buses and taxis.

Four hundred and seventy-five feet long and 110 feet at its widest, the station has the potential to become a destination place, said Brian Kearney of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, and could easily be a home for restaurants, a museum, galleries and retail.

Many Union Stations across the country have been demolished, but just as many cities have found ways to renovate and reuse the buildings. The name - Union Station - was created as a common name when the Southern Pacific railroad and the Santa Fe railroad consolidated their passenger depots into one "union" station.

Examples of how cities that have adaptively reused their stations are:


• Kansas City's Union Station is a science museum and Amtrak terminal, and has restaurants and shops.


• St. Louis's Union Station has a light-rail stop outside and has a shopping mall and hotel.


• Temple, Texas, has converted its rail station into a transportation museum and Amtrak stop.


• Dallas' Union Terminal is now a transportation center for Amtrak, light rail and commuter rail.


• Los Angeles' Union Passenger Terminal still services Amtrak, as well as heavy commuter rail, and has restaurants and shopping.


• Tucson's rail station is now an Amtrak stop, museum and retail center.


• Flagstaff's rail station is now an Amtrak stop, regional tourist bureau and car-rental station.

Many of these conversions, Stocklin said, have been accomplished with federal transportation enhancement funds, a required set-aside program from federal highway dollars since 1991.

These dollars are still available, Stocklin said, and could potentially be used for a conversion of Phoenix's Union Station as well.

Phoenix's is on the city's Historic Register.

"The best thing is they've (Sprint) maintained the building," Stocklin said. "They've been the steward of the building."

HooverDam
Dec 13, 2006, 5:17 AM
^Wow, that sounds fantastic! I lived in St Louis the past few years, and their Union Station (which is much larger) is a pretty big tourist draw. Though it does remind me a tad of the Arizona Center, lots of shops that sell like St Louis shot glasses and Missouri state flags, crap like that.

I think the ideal the thing would be for the station to have restaurants, bars, clubs and retail, make it an extension, or really the Western anchor of the entertainment district (with Chase Field being the Eastern anchor). I'd hope they don't go w/ a museum, I have a feeling most people don't want to go to a train museum (which is what I assume it would be). I'd rather have something there thats lively and exciting, if they do a museum, I hope its only a small portion.

It would also be good if there was Amtrak making stops there, but I suppose there isn't much of a demand for that. I think I recall hearing that Phoenix is the only large city in the country w/ out an Amtrak station. I certainly have a lot of friends at NAU who would probably use a Phoenix-Flagstaff train.

I haven't been down there in a while, but I think there is a big ugly tower of some kind right in front of the station that would need to be torn down. There's also a big ugly grey parking garage next to it if I recall, hopefully they'd be able to conceal it w/ landscaping, or make it look nicer in some way.

HX_Guy
Dec 13, 2006, 5:26 AM
Isn't Madison St Jail very close to there as well? That probably won't be very appealing to people who might want to visit the area.

HooverDam
Dec 13, 2006, 5:48 AM
Isn't Madison St Jail very close to there as well? That probably won't be very appealing to people who might want to visit the area.

Well its on Madison and like 1st or 2nd ave. Union Station is south of Jackson, on Harrison, north of Buchanan, between 3rd and 5th ave. So its a few blocks away...I don't imagine it would be too much of a problem.

oliveurban
Dec 13, 2006, 11:43 AM
City talks of train station rebirth
Downtown landmark eyed for shopping, dining

Angela Cara Pancrazio
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 13, 2006 12:00 AM

For more than two decades, the city has eyed the potential of Phoenix's Union Station. With all of its space and its Mission Revival architecture, the 1923 rail-passenger center could be a city centerpiece filled with shops, restaurants and artists, officials have proposed.

That vision never came to fruition.

The last train carrying passengers pulled out of the station in the mid-1990s. In recent years, the station has been inaccessible to the public. There's a security fence ringing the building because Sprint owns it and stores equipment in it.
advertisement


But lately, with the renaissance of downtown Phoenix, Sprint and the city's Historic Preservation Office are talking about what is the best use for the building.

"Now there's momentum for something to happen," said Barbara Stocklin, the city's historic preservation officer.

From the beginning, Phoenix's Union Station was designed to be a high-profile building in the city's core, Stocklin said.

"Downtown is at a crossroads and Sprint is at a crossroads - that's always good," Stocklin said.

"If Sprint's interested in doing something else, it's good timing."

Sitting on Harrison Street at Fourth Avenue, the station borders the southwestern fringe of downtown's warehouse district. Over the past several years, the district has slowly reinvented itself with a handful of galleries, restaurants and lofts.

"You could do just about anything with the station," Stocklin said.

It could be restored for its original use, she said, as a commuter rail station and a transportation hub with buses and taxis.

Four hundred and seventy-five feet long and 110 feet at its widest, the station has the potential to become a destination place, said Brian Kearney of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, and could easily be a home for restaurants, a museum, galleries and retail.

Many Union Stations across the country have been demolished, but just as many cities have found ways to renovate and reuse the buildings. The name - Union Station - was created as a common name when the Southern Pacific railroad and the Santa Fe railroad consolidated their passenger depots into one "union" station.

Examples of how cities that have adaptively reused their stations are:


• Kansas City's Union Station is a science museum and Amtrak terminal, and has restaurants and shops.


• St. Louis's Union Station has a light-rail stop outside and has a shopping mall and hotel.


• Temple, Texas, has converted its rail station into a transportation museum and Amtrak stop.


• Dallas' Union Terminal is now a transportation center for Amtrak, light rail and commuter rail.


• Los Angeles' Union Passenger Terminal still services Amtrak, as well as heavy commuter rail, and has restaurants and shopping.


• Tucson's rail station is now an Amtrak stop, museum and retail center.


• Flagstaff's rail station is now an Amtrak stop, regional tourist bureau and car-rental station.

Many of these conversions, Stocklin said, have been accomplished with federal transportation enhancement funds, a required set-aside program from federal highway dollars since 1991.

These dollars are still available, Stocklin said, and could potentially be used for a conversion of Phoenix's Union Station as well.

Phoenix's is on the city's Historic Register.

"The best thing is they've (Sprint) maintained the building," Stocklin said. "They've been the steward of the building."

^ Good news overall. However, I hope "transportation" remains a primary focus.

If commuter rail is ever truly instigated, a legitimate link between it and our new light-rail system is a must. Some dandy new museum and more touristy retail shouldn't be the only use (or priority).

Upward
Dec 13, 2006, 4:08 PM
It would be silly to turn the train station into an "attraction" without it being a functioning station. I worry that downtown Phoenix is focusing too much on tourist-type attractions that will draw locals only once to see them. How about making the attraction a real functioning downtown?

I do like the idea of integrating the capitol more into downtown. It needs to be part of downtown, not adjacent to it. The article does raise the valid point, however, that with the state's small-government (small everything, really) mentality, about the last thing that would ever be done on a grand scale would be government buildings.

HooverDam
Dec 13, 2006, 4:16 PM
It would be silly to turn the train station into an "attraction" without it being a functioning station..

I don't know, like I said Union Station in St Louis is pretty full of life, and its not a functioning station. But I agree, I'd rather have it be a station, but if that can't happen, I don't want it to be a deal breaker.

People keep complaining about individual projects like this, or CityScape and saying they aren't the solution. While I agree to a point, it seems to me that once you have a certain number of projects like this all in one area, then you have a downtown that will attract people.

Hysonk
Dec 13, 2006, 4:30 PM
Isn't Madison St Jail very close to there as well? That probably won't be very appealing to people who might want to visit the area.

Yeah, Madison St. and 4th Avenue Jail are right there. That part of Jackson has been inundated with county back office space too. But, there's always the potential to make it better. The Icehouse is also real close.

The thing that I still can't get over is the fact that passenger rail dosen't run through Phoenix anymore. It boggles the mind.

soleri
Dec 13, 2006, 5:38 PM
The lack of AMTRAK service drives me insane. There's a lot of reasons to explain this, but the bottom line is that there wasn't sufficient popular support to keep it going. If you had citizens writing their legislators (state and federal), and if you had enough visionaries in elected office, there would be train service and it could possibly integrated with local mass transit as Denver is doing.

I don't mean to start an argument here because no minds get changed in this forum. Still, this is where free-market ideology results in bad choices. The American right hates trains and seldom misses an opportunity to cut AMTRAK subsidies or ridicule the idea of trains. Instead we build freeways, which result in more sprawl, which results in more freeways, ad infinitum.

Rail is one way out of this madness. It can create density corridors, provide additional travel options, and increase tourism. Actual rail service to downtown Phoenix would be an incalculable boon in creating a regional center. Imagine the rail line running directly north of Sky Harbor being part of a passenger rail network. Or bullet trains to Tucson, the coast, or up the congested 1-17 corridor.

With our transportation options being reduced to flying and driving, we have a Hobson's choice of competing miseries. Driving to LA, e.g., gets hellish once you approach San Bernadino. Flying is like a case of slow strangulation where security necessity and crowded skies make the experience increasingly grim.

This forum is fairly small and inconsequential. But on one level, we're "navigators" of popular opinion because we actually think about transportation and urban issues. Without starting an argument, I wonder if we can actually see ourselves as a vanguard of informed urbanists.

Vicelord John
Dec 13, 2006, 5:56 PM
if there were a train to LA, maybe I wouldn't hate the stinky ass crowded place so much.

plinko
Dec 13, 2006, 6:49 PM
The lack of AMTRAK service drives me insane. There's a lot of reasons to explain this, but the bottom line is that there wasn't sufficient popular support to keep it going. If you had citizens writing their legislators (state and federal), and if you had enough visionaries in elected office, there would be train service and it could possibly integrated with local mass transit as Denver is doing.

I don't mean to start an argument here because no minds get changed in this forum. Still, this is where free-market ideology results in bad choices. The American right hates trains and seldom misses an opportunity to cut AMTRAK subsidies or ridicule the idea of trains. Instead we build freeways, which result in more sprawl, which results in more freeways, ad infinitum.

Rail is one way out of this madness. It can create density corridors, provide additional travel options, and increase tourism. Actual rail service to downtown Phoenix would be an incalculable boon in creating a regional center. Imagine the rail line running directly north of Sky Harbor being part of a passenger rail network. Or bullet trains to Tucson, the coast, or up the congested 1-17 corridor.

With our transportation options being reduced to flying and driving, we have a Hobson's choice of competing miseries. Driving to LA, e.g., gets hellish once you approach San Bernadino. Flying is like a case of slow strangulation where security necessity and crowded skies make the experience increasingly grim.

This forum is fairly small and inconsequential. But on one level, we're "navigators" of popular opinion because we actually think about transportation and urban issues. Without starting an argument, I wonder if we can actually see ourselves as a vanguard of informed urbanists.

As someone who actually used to use the Amtrak station in Phoenix I can tell you that it was incredibly frustrating to see service pulled in the late 90's. Phoenix is probably the largest city in the world without passenger rail of any kind. Even Detroit still has an Amtrak station (though Toledo's is much better connected).

IIRC, in the last year of service Phoenix Union Station served all of 8,000 passengers. Not exactly hopping. Tempe (which was Amtrak's other stop in the Valley over behind Macayo's) served 9,000.

Part of the reason I think the lite rail will fail is that it is billed as a traffic reliever at a regional level. Unfortunately lite rail doesn't really work that way (much better at a smaller scale). The ROW's exist for commuter heavy rail to exist in EVERY city in the Valley (with the notable exception of Scottsdale). Why that wasn't pursued as a true regional alternative is beyond me. If it did exist, you could build a true multi-modal station in DT Phoenix. Instead Phoenix will remain cut off from the remainder of the world via rail, but they will have their cute little train that runs down Central (I did say earlier that I think ASUDT is the key to the lite rail's ultimate success and I do honestly believe this).

combusean
Dec 13, 2006, 7:36 PM
Amtrak's departure had more to do with Union Pacific's closing of the Phoenix West line that connects Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station to Wellton in Yuma County. While UP is double tracking the mainline that runs from Maricopa to Tucson, Phoenix service is desperately needed.

Then again, taking the train to LA for example isn't entirely out of the question ... $100 - $120 each way from Maricopa, and that's with two days notice. It's competitive with airfare, and compared with LA traffic the 8 hour ride doesn't seem nearly so bad.

soleri
Dec 13, 2006, 11:26 PM
Amtrak's departure had more to do with Union Pacific's closing of the Phoenix West line that connects Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station to Wellton in Yuma County. While UP is double tracking the mainline that runs from Maricopa to Tucson, Phoenix service is desperately needed.

Then again, taking the train to LA for example isn't entirely out of the question ... $100 - $120 each way from Maricopa, and that's with two days notice. It's competitive with airfare, and compared with LA traffic the 8 hour ride doesn't seem nearly so bad.

My memory is a little vague here, but as I recall, UP wanted a subsidy from the legislature to maintain the tracks and when they didn't get it, shut it down to passenger rail. This is something states have to contend with providers like UP. It can seem like blackmail to the squeamish but is really part of doing business in America.

At any rate, our legislature is penny-wise about things like rail (but not so much when it comes to boondoggles like alt-fuels). This is why it would really help to have a little more political consciousness among the few of us keen on cities. Yes, we're already outnumbered, but aside from that we're not even in the game.

HooverDam
Dec 14, 2006, 1:46 AM
Soleri, the free market doesn't work because government doesn't subsides something enough? That line of reasoning doesn't seem to make any sense. If what you mean is "the current American mixed economic system doesn't work in this situation," I'd agree. But there is certainly nothing "free market" about the transportation industry.

soleri
Dec 14, 2006, 5:51 AM
Soleri, the free market doesn't work because government doesn't subsides something enough? That line of reasoning doesn't seem to make any sense. If what you mean is "the current American mixed economic system doesn't work in this situation," I'd agree. But there is certainly nothing "free market" about the transportation industry.

It's not the economic system which is to blame for AMTRAK leaving Phoenix. It's the political system, or more precisely, people like you and me. If rail service were more highly valued, then we would have found a way to keep it. We do this all the time with various economic activities (it's why the Cardinals play in Glendale and not in LA, or why Sumitomo opened a factory in Phoenix and not Austin, or why the city is building a 1000 room hotel downtown).

The American right (with a few notable exceptions like Paul Weyrich) has a deep disdain for passenger rail. I think this due to the idea that density creates a greater demand for government and that one way of finessing growth in the public sector is extreme decentralization. Regardless, the choice Arizona made reflected a constellation of values you could call anti-urban: freeways, far-flung housing pods, autocentric development, etc. Urbanists have a very small voice in this state, but we ought, at a minimum, speak more forcefully about those things which do concern us. Rail service is one of those things.

oliveurban
Dec 15, 2006, 10:25 AM
SkyValue starts flights to Gary out of Gateway
Art Thomason
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 15, 2006

The fourth carrier in Williams Gateway Airport's expanding wing of passenger airlines lifts off for the Chicago area today.

Amid a water-cannon salute by firefighters and salutations by airline executives and Mesa Mayor Keno Hawker, SkyValue Flight 512 is scheduled to depart at 10:30 a.m. for Gary, Ind., which is 25 miles from downtown Chicago.

"We're trying to make sure that we take every step to make this investment pay off for everyone," said Charles Brinton, executive director of the Mesa Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The organization is partnering with SkyValue to provide promotion and marketing through more than 100 travel agents.

Brinton said he expects the growth of niche airlines that serve regional airports and relievers to continue as Williams carves its way into the scheduled passenger service market.

It started in April when Vision Airlines initiated scheduled passenger service at Williams to North Las Vegas.

On Jan. 19, Western airlines will begin charter flights between Williams and Bellingham, Wash., four days a week, and Allegiant Air offers occasional charters to Reno and Laughlin, Nev.

Vision said Wednesday that it is cutting the number of its flights until Feb. 1 because of slow business. It will drop Monday and Thursday service, said Warren Kaplan, Vision's manager of business development.

However, Vision will have Monday and Thursday flights on Dec. 28 and Jan. 1, because of demand leading up to the New Year holiday weekend.

As for SkyValue, "the Mesa airport and Gary/Chicago International Airport are two good fits," said Gabrielle Griswold, executive vice president of the charter.

Both airports are vigorously pursuing airlines to establish an international identity, enhance revenue and promote economic development, she said.

A SkyValue Boeing 737-800 is scheduled to arrive at Williams at 9:24 a.m., with a contingent of Gary public officials and business leaders and Sky Value executives, she said.

Gary Mayor Rudy Clay, Indiana State Sen. Earline Rogers and Marion J. Johnson Jr., president of the Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority, are to be among passengers.

PHX602
Dec 28, 2006, 3:30 AM
Here's an interesting article on the light rail from phoenixnewtimes.

http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/Issues/2006-12-28/news/feature.html

Sekkle
Jan 16, 2007, 5:02 PM
I thought that, since there will be a lot of transit and transportation news coming with LRT opening next year and freeway and transit plans constantly being highlighted for construction acceleration, I would start a Phoenix transportation thread. If anyone thinks this isn't necessary and should be handled in the Phoenix Development Thread, we can just move it over there.

I'm a civil engineer and am very interested in transit and transportation, so I will do my best to post new developments as I read or hear about them.

Here are three articles from today and a couple days ago from the AZ Republic/azcentral...

Plans link bus routes to stations for light rail
Jim Walsh
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 16, 2007 12:00 AM
Two years before the first Metro light-rail train rumbles across the Valley, a maze of bus routes connecting to rail stations is planned to boost ridership, curb congestion and reduce air pollution.

The Metro rail will stretch 20 miles from northwest Phoenix to west Mesa, making bus connections from every direction essential.

Valley Metro is adding at least 14 express routes that either will connect to the Metro light-rail line or fill in the gaps until Metro is expanded.

"It still isn't the whole picture for transit in the region. There will be a lot of express-bus investments to connect with the light-rail system," said Stuart Boggs, manager of transit planning for Valley Metro.

The plan puts a premium on boosting service at the Valley's fringes, where little service has existed, he said. It also caters to commuters.

For instance, commuters who live in Mesa could travel to work in Scottsdale, and west Phoenix residents could travel to work in Peoria using the rail line and express buses. A few examples:


• The East Loop 101 express could connect Scottsdale Airpark to a planned transit center at Chandler Fashion Center.


• The West Loop 101 express could connect Peoria to a planned rail station at 79th Avenue and Interstate 10. A light-rail spur is planned to the station.


• The Red Mountain express could run from a park-and-ride lot off Power Road in northeast Mesa to a planned light-rail station on Rural Road in Tempe.

Mesa tentatively plans groundbreaking ceremonies Jan. 27 for the Sycamore light-rail station at Sycamore and Main Street. The city has only one mile of light rail but two, and possibly three, connecting buses are planned. The light-rail system could be expanded to 57 miles by 2026, depending on funding.

Mike James, Mesa's deputy transportation director, said Proposition 400, the extension of a half-cent sales tax approved in 2004, pays for some express buses. Consultant HDR Inc. is expected to release a report to Valley cities on Jan. 29 and some routes eventually may be shifted to improve service, he said.

Governor pledges transit support
Josh Kelley and Mike Walbert
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 13, 2007 12:00 AM
When it comes to relieving Arizona's transportation woes, Gov. Janet Napolitano assured members of the East Valley Partnership on Friday of one solution she opposes.

"I am not a fan of toll roads," Napolitano said to about 300 people at a breakfast at Mesa Community College. "I'll tell you right up front. There's a reason I don't live in New Jersey."

And unlike the Garden State, the population of Arizona is projected to increase by millions over the next 15 years, including Pinal County, which is expected to surpass Pima County as the state's second largest behind Maricopa, Napolitano said.

That's a growth rate the governor said demands smart planning and coordination among government leaders to avert water supply and traffic crises.

The governor received a warm reception at the breakfast, which has become an annual Southeast Valley event held just as the legislative session is beginning.

Napolitano gave a speech in which she named education her top priority and took questions from the audience about the effect of the new minimum wage law on disabled workers, problems with the state's behavioral health services and transportation planning.

In addition to $300 million in state budget surplus money appropriated last year to speed road construction, Napolitano said bonds used to pay for roads should be extended to provide an additional $400 million to further accelerate freeway construction, including projects in the Southeast Valley.

She has also requested that the Arizona Department of Transportation submit proposals to her within 90 days for the possible installation of commuter rail systems or more light rail to alleviate traffic congestion.

Senate Majority Leader Thayer Verschoor, R-Gilbert, who - alongside state Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, - has proposed finding $200 million to devote toward freeway project acceleration, said he wants to examine closely all options that have been floated in recent weeks, including those proposed by Napolitano.

"I don't want to take anything off the table," Verschoor said. "Everything is on the table."

Verschoor also said he is interested to see ADOT's rail study that was ordered by Napolitano.

A vocal supporter of commuter rail, Verschoor said having the governor back a study of that transit option "will add some extra needed weight to it."

Though he describes himself as not a "big fan" of bonding, Verschoor is warm to the idea of extending bonds.

"It's not like we're borrowing money to buy computers," he said.

"You're talking about an infrastructure that 30 years from now we are going to be using it."

However, Biggs, who heads the House Transportation Committee, said he was skeptical of Napolitano's bond proposal. Biggs' preference is to gather acceleration funds from budget areas where roads and highway dollars were diverted previously.

Arizona transportation officials discuss toll road
Associated Press
Jan. 15, 2007 04:25 PM
Establishing a toll road in Arizona would take a lot of time and planning, but doing so may become one of the best ways to pay for new roads in the state, transportation officials said at a recent discussion in Tucson.

They said toll roads are one way to get around and ahead of gas-tax and federal funding shortfalls, and could fund such transportation projects as a bypass allowing some traffic on Interstate 10 to avoid the Tucson and Phoenix metropolitan areas.

"There are discussions going on in Phoenix, statewide and here about doing things differently; tolling is one of those things," said Gary Hayes, executive director of the Tucson area's Regional Transportation Authority.

While state and federal transportation funding are the long-standing sources for money, those sources aren't cutting it anymore, he said.

Priscilla Cornelio, Pima County transportation director, said the county never has enough money to fund transportation improvements. But, she said Maricopa County would be more likely to get a toll road than Pima.

She said the increased congestion and more established freeway systems in Maricopa County, the state's most populous, would make it a better candidate for a toll road.

The Arizona Department of Transportation would consider construction or operation of toll roads only if there was public support for any fees assessed to drivers, as well as support from lawmakers, said department spokeswoman Teresa Welborn.

Stephen Hogan, executive director of a 10-mile toll road near Denver that opened in 2003, said he thinks federal gas-tax money to build roads will be gone within the next five years.

"No one wants to pay a toll, but whether it's a toll or a tax, everybody's paying," he said. "If you do it through an entity that's focused on building a toll road, you'll get it done quicker."

Information from: Arizona Daily Star, http://www.azstarnet.com

HooverDam
Jan 16, 2007, 6:00 PM
I'd love it if AZ got some toll roads, if it meant we paid less in taxes. However it'll never mean that, we'll keep paying the same in taxes, and have to pay tolls on top of that. Let those who use, pay, thats what I say (I should be a rapper).

PHX31
Jan 16, 2007, 6:01 PM
Being a civil engineer as well, mostly dealing with traffic and transportation projects, this interests me as well. I've even spent 8 months as an inspector on the light rail.

The first two articles you posted were great reads, the third sucked. When I read the third this morning online I was wondering why that would even be considered and I was thinking "what about the possibility of commuter rail" in my mind. Then I read the second article about Gov Janet proclaiming herself against toll roads and wanting to study commuter rail further... great!

I think there needs to be more local shuttles in the valley. The neighborhood shuttle in Tempe that winds through the neighborhoods east of ASU were ALWAYS packed full when I was working out there. I know most of it is due to students using it to get to campus instead of driving... but more shuttles like that throughout the valley that would link higher density neighborhoods to shopping areas and especially the light rail would work wonders, IMO. They are free, so probably expensive to run without any revenue (not that a fare is much revenue), but we should allocate money (from prop 400?) for increased shuttles. If not, maybe charge $.50 or $1.00.

Sekkle
Jan 16, 2007, 7:48 PM
^ I completely agree with you about commuter rail vs. toll roads. With cities like Albuquerque opening up their own commuter rail lines, we are once again behind the curve.

As far as the shuttles go, there was a story a few weeks ago that was posted in the Phx development thread about increased shuttle service...

Phoenix is planning to unveil more neighborhood buses in Maryvale and Sunnyslope by mid- to late 2007. Those will be followed in 2008 by others in the following areas: Desert Ridge, Desert Sky, Laveen, South Mountain and northwest Phoenix.

These are being paid for under the RTP (Regional Transportation Plan) for which funding was approved under Prop 400.

PHX31
Jan 16, 2007, 8:33 PM
/\ I'm all for more shuttles in Phoenix, but none of those that are listed above look like they will have any interaction with the light rail line.

Maybe Valley Metro or the bus line planners in the area feel as though most areas and neighborhoods near the light rail line are serviced by other bus lines, possibly even on minor arterial or collector streets, so they feel shuttles aren't needed, but I think they totally are, especially since the shuttles can travel on possibly local streets.

This is entirely self-serving, but oh well, the shuttles I'm thinking about could work like this in my neighborhood (Coronado) and elsewhere downtownish:

http://members.cox.net/statedevil/shuttle3.jpg

This serves the following things, amongst others:

1. Light Rail Station
2. Heard Museum
3. Palm Ln apts/condos/homes/offices
4. Coronado Park
5. The east Coronado area (east of 16th St)
6. 16th St business (incl. Barrio Cafe, etc.)
7. North High School
8. West Coronado Neighborhood
9. St. Mary's High School

You can't tell me that wouldn't have high ridership and be useful to the area and to the light rail system...

JI5
Jan 17, 2007, 6:53 AM
I was driving down the 202 today eastbound approaching Priest, and I saw a segment of lightrail track that had the overhead wires in place. I'm going to try to get some pictures later this week.

oliveurban
Jan 17, 2007, 7:38 AM
^ That is the rail spur that connects the main LRT line to the maintenance yard. The spur bridges over the railroad tracks at that point.

If you drive down Washington, passing under the 202, you can get a better view.

combusean
Jan 17, 2007, 5:42 PM
Somewhat on topic, I came up with the following map and sent it to the City of Phoenix. It builds on ideas the Urban Land institute was throwing around for a re-enlivened Papago Park. One of the suggestions was a tourist trolley, I expanded on the idea by turning it into a 5 mile streetcar line instead that would connect downtown Scottsdale to Papago park.

http://emvis.net/~sean/papago_park_vision.png

Not bad for what, $150 million before significant federal reimbursements?

Sekkle
Jan 17, 2007, 6:25 PM
^ Wow! That would be great. You could create a loop in/near downtown Scottsdale that would serve the Civic Center and Giants' Spring Training Stadium, too. I like the route you chose... keeping it off Scottsdale Rd. might keep people from bitching too much about construction inconveniences (although I'm sure people living in neighborhoods along 64th street would throw fits). This I would be interested to hear what the City had to say in response to your map. Very nice work!

PHX31
Jan 17, 2007, 8:00 PM
I think that would be awesome!

It's too bad that the town lake/Salt River is where it is... Could you imagine the Mill Avenue area and Downtown Scottsdale directly connected with a streetcar? As you have it, you have to make a quick jump on the light rail to connect to Mill... but having two "bustling" areas bookend the line would work absolute wonders.

Really, it is too good.

pablosan
Jan 17, 2007, 8:08 PM
I'm just curious, how much track is going to be laid. Is this the beginning of something much larger?

Sekkle
Jan 17, 2007, 8:16 PM
^ This streetcar line is just an idea that combusean came up with. It's not currently being proposed by the City of Phoenix or Valley Metro or any other entity that I'm aware of (I believe there is a study going on looking at transit options including BRT, LRT, and streetcars for Scottsdale Rd, but it is still in teh study stages).

If your question was referring to the LRT in Phoenix in general, the first 20 miles are now under construction (complete in late 2008) and an additional 28 miles have been approved but have yet to begin construction or final design.

plinko
Jan 17, 2007, 8:32 PM
Sean, I totally dig the idea. The residents along 64th might be totally pissed, but if anything it would likely curb traffic speeds in the area (narrow the lanes and put the tracks on the west side of the street along that big sound wall). I almost think you could eliminate the 'motor mile' stop, but there's probably a decent bus line along McDowell at that point to tie into.

The intersection of Priest and Washington (with two rail lines converging) would be pretty interesting. I haven't been over there in ages...is there anything on the SE corner now? (where the Cards Stadium would have been)

Sekkle
Jan 17, 2007, 8:44 PM
^ No, there's still nothing on that corner (at least last time I checked). The northeast corner is built now, with a small shopping center and some offices.

I wonder how the idea of a streetcar in the middle of Galvin Pkwy would be received. Right now the median is still desert landscaped, which, in my opinion, works pretty well for blending in with the Park. City parks people might have a problem with taking that out. Either way, though, I like the concept.

pablosan
Jan 18, 2007, 12:31 AM
^ This streetcar line is just an idea that combusean came up with. It's not currently being proposed by the City of Phoenix or Valley Metro or any other entity that I'm aware of (I believe there is a study going on looking at transit options including BRT, LRT, and streetcars for Scottsdale Rd, but it is still in teh study stages).

If your question was referring to the LRT in Phoenix in general, the first 20 miles are now under construction (complete in late 2008) and an additional 28 miles have been approved but have yet to begin construction or final design.

Thanks.

FireMedic
Jan 18, 2007, 1:12 AM
Any word if their going build a Tunnel on S Mountain yet ?

HooverDam
Jan 18, 2007, 3:28 AM
Any word if their going build a Tunnel on S Mountain yet ?

The plan is to go around, not through S Mountain

combusean
Jan 19, 2007, 8:14 PM
Mass transit options have state leaders abuzz (http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/164775.php)
By Daniel Scarpinato
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 01.16.2007


PHOENIX — Trains, lanes and automobiles.

Those are the big options on the table as state leaders prepare for millions of new cars expected to clog our roads and freeways over the next two decades, pumping out tons more pollution to cloud the skies.

With rapid growth, lawmakers say transportation seems to be a hotter topic now than it has been in years.

Last week Gov. Janet Napolitano signed an executive order for the Arizona Department of Transportation to look into mass transit options.

The move has the mayors of Tucson and Phoenix, as well as some legislators, beaming about the possibility of a commuter train between the two cities. With the order, ADOT is putting the pedal to the metal to update a 1998 study on the train within the next 90 days.
Imagine: Hop on the train, take a seat, even open up your laptop to surf the Web — and before you know it, you're in Phoenix for shopping, sports, business or a weekend at a spa. And never give a thought to wildly fluctuating, ever higher gas prices.

Likewise, Phoenicians could enjoy hiking, art galleries, summer resort discounts and the more relaxed ambiance Tucson has to offer.

Since the concept has been discussed for years and always resulted in nothing more than studies, some wonder if the excitement is premature.

This time, however, with the corridor between Tucson and Phoenix anticipating major growth over the next decade, advocates can already hear the sound of whistles blowing. But completion might be years away, even if it received the massive funding needed to get off the drawing board.

"We already have the need to expand I-10 to (six) full lanes between Phoenix and Tucson," said Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup. "But right behind that you're really looking at, what we need in the future is a way to move people between those populated areas and stay off the roads."

Walkup and Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon say they've been working together on the issue for three years and see the governor's order as a major turning point.

"There have been a lot of folks who have expressed interest to the governor. A lot of elected officials and basically the community transit organizations," said Shannon Scutari, the governor's policy adviser for growth and infrastructure.

But the governor is waiting to see what ADOT reports, and is interested in examining solutions statewide, Scutari said.

Walkup and Gordon were expecting a specific mention of the train in the governor's address. She didn't do that. Still, her call on the Department of Transportation to study a commuter train is "music to my ears," Gordon said.

The rail makes sense because "it's no longer city against city in this state," Gordon said. "It's region against the rest of the world."

In the 1998 report done by ADOT, the department concluded that at that time, a commuter train would cost at least $380 million.

All aboard?

Chantal Ottino seems like the ideal customer for a commuter train.

All too often, the 21-year-old University of Arizona accounting senior gets homesick for her family in north Phoenix. So at least once a month, you'll find her speeding up Interstate 10 in her black Ford Mustang.

Traffic is a constant problem.

"When there's an accident, it can get backed up forever, and then you're stuck," she says.

Still, when it comes to riding a train, "I'm torn," she says.

"I like to leave when I want to leave," Ottino says, and boarding a train at 9 p.m. in Downtown Tucson — well, that could be dangerous.

Plus, "Leaving my car? That would be hard. How am I going to go to the clubs in Scottsdale?" she says, laughing.

And that's the big dilemma: How to get around in either city, both built around the car culture of the post-1950s.

"You would still have the same problems of congestion within Maricopa (County) and Tucson even if the rail moved you from point A to point B," said Darcy Olsen, president of the Goldwater Institute, a Phoenix think tank that advocates smaller government.
But Gordon and Walkup both say that issue is working itself out already. Phoenix has started a light-rail system, and Walkup pointed to plans for a streetcar system in Downtown Tucson.

Still, Olsen says advocates "don't seem to take into account individual preferences, which is people prefer to drive. (Rail) is impractical and undesirable."

Steve Farley disagrees. Farley, a freshman Democratic state representative from Tucson and advocate of mass transit, says the best time to introduce a passenger railway is during expansion of Interstate 10, when people are looking for an alternative to avoid construction. Federal funds can help, he said.

As for demand, Farley points to a new state-subsidized railway in New Mexico, the "Rail Runner," which will eventually connect Santa Fe with Albuquerque.

"All the stars are aligning, with gas going through the roof and all the consequences of global warming issues and all the people in the business community seeing how much money is available from development along rail."

Funding conflicts

But funding for a railway may collide with money for road improvements and expansions.
A proposal to spend $450 million of the state's $650 million rainy day fund for road construction is already on the legislative table. Napolitano opposes dipping into those funds and instead wants to refinance bonds to pay for construction.

"I guess it all comes down to how you define emergency," Bob Burns, a Peoria Republican and chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said last week. "If we can stimulate the economy and help speed up our transportation construction … and at least keep up with the flow of people who are coming here, maybe we can prevent an emergency."

Meanwhile, Democrats in the House have already started talking about an increase in the gas tax, while Olsen is pushing for the state to look at efforts elsewhere, like having a private developer build a toll highway, as is being done in Texas.
From all those choices, Farley is hopeful the train will be included in the mix of solutions. "I haven't really come across anyone who's against that," he said.

For the full text of the governor's order go to azstarnet.com/transportation

Contact reporter Daniel Scarpinato at 307-4339 or dscarpinato@azstarnet.com.

Sekkle
Jan 20, 2007, 3:17 PM
Here's a similar article from today's Republic focusing on commuter rail. :tup: Governor pursues plan for commuter-rail lines
Target for Tucson, Phoenix link: 2012

Sean Holstege
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 20, 2007 12:00 AM


Arizona is moving to play a major role in bringing commuter rail to the Valley and between Phoenix and Tucson.

The Arizona Department of Transportation is days away from asking bidders to plan a passenger rail line connecting Phoenix and Tucson by Centennial Day, Feb. 14, 2012.

This comes after Gov. Janet Napolitano gave ADOT 90 days to list the best potential rail projects and detail the best ways to pay for them. advertisement




The arrival of commuter rail in Arizona is not a guarantee because some lawmakers oppose rail, saying it isn't worth the subsidy. But involvement by the state increases the chance that it could become a reality. The state's role was a deciding factor in bringing commuter rail to Utah and New Mexico.

"The governor clearly believes that we have to explore these options and implement some," said Jeanine L'Ecuyer, Napolitano's spokeswoman. "She wants wide-open thinking on this subject. She's serious about these executive orders. She expects results and does not want these studies to be a book on the shelf."

Jim Dickey, ADOT Public Transit Division director, said no option is off the table. His team will be looking at a wide range of rail projects, from new or expedited local light-rail extensions around Phoenix to longer and faster commuter-rail lines to the West Valley and southeast Valley and a Phoenix-Tucson train. Other potential projects are connecting a people-mover system at Sky Harbor International Airport to conventional rail lines and local tracks in and around Tucson or Flagstaff.

What is less clear is what role the state would play in making any of these services happen. ADOT and the governor's staff are coy on the subject.

Options include:


• Advancing state funds to engineer a rail network.


• Using surplus state money or other funds as a down payment on construction or to acquire rights-of-way.


• Passing laws to create a statewide or multicounty rail agency.


• Passing laws to streamline design and construction bidding to speed up existing or future rail projects.


• Putting a statewide bond on the ballot, probably for over $1 billion, to build a system.


State's involvement?
"Everybody seems to be concluding that a major state role in Arizona will be necessary," said Kathryn Pett, an attorney who has been informally advising Napolitano's office and ADOT for about a year.

Pett, of the Phoenix-based firm Snell and Wilmer, brokered right-of-way and track-sharing deals in Utah and New Mexico between public agencies and rail-freight companies. Pett said involvement by the governors in those states was instrumental in persuading rail companies to negotiate seriously.

Any moves by ADOT or the governor will draw scrutiny, however.

"Passenger rail is a big loser," said Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Ron Gould, a Lake Havasu City Republican. Arguing that fares don't cover costs and that rail doesn't take enough people off freeways, Gould said, "For me, rail is a non-starter."

Senate Majority Whip John Huppenthal, R-Chandler, said traffic congestion is deteriorating so badly that he wouldn't "be against anything," adding, "We need a new vision. The question is whether our leaders are up to it."


Long-overdue link
Rail advocate and freshman state Rep. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, said connecting his city and Phoenix by rail should have happened 10 years ago.

"I haven't heard anybody of any political party or ideology who's opposed to this," Farley said. "It's real because everybody wants it so badly."

Commuter rail, which employs larger trains and fewer stops than light rail, would mean leasing tracks or rights-of-way from rail-freight companies.

In Arizona, the freight giants are Union Pacific and Burlington Northern and Santa Fe railroads.

Union Pacific officials said they have told the governor's staff in informal talks that starting passenger service in Arizona will be unusually challenging. Unlike other Western states, there is much less redundant track here.

A Burlington Northern spokeswoman said the company has not had talks with Arizona officials but is open to them.

ADOT is due to release a study by the end of the month detailing the amount, condition and capacity of existing freight lines.

The Maricopa Association of Governments just launched a $300,000, year-long study to determine the demand for commuter service around Phoenix and how best to link it to urban light-rail track now under construction.

HooverDam
Jan 20, 2007, 3:41 PM
^I read that this morning as well, too bad there wouldn't be a link from Flagstaff-Phoenix. I know a lot of NAU students (as well as tourists) would probably use that.

JimInCal
Jan 20, 2007, 4:53 PM
http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/1030FAAtower1030.html

"... The new tower is designed to better accommodate the volume of air traffic that currently passes through the airport, as well as handle future growth.

Sky Harbor saw a record 41.2 million passengers in 2005 and is ranked among the busiest airports in the country.

Last year, it recorded more than 555,000 takeoffs and landings; that number is expected to grow to 670,000 by 2015. By then, the airport will serve an estimated 50 million passengers annually.

"The airport is a lot busier today and has a lot more structures than it used to," Deputy Aviation Director Deborah Ostreicher said. "We're so excited to have this open because it really will help us meet our needs now and in the future."

One advantage of the new tower is its height. It stands 326 feet tall - 125 feet taller than the old tower to the west of it. That gives it an unobstructed view of the airport grounds."

The new tower is roughly the equivalent of a 30-story building and is the third-tallest of its kind in the world. Only those in Munich, Germany, and Atlanta soar higher.

http://img291.imageshack.us/img291/2273/towerconstruct0ll.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

http://img175.imageshack.us/img175/1716/tower98067sd.jpg (http://imageshack.us) http://img407.imageshack.us/img407/5488/tower39kw.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

http://img248.imageshack.us/img248/4646/tower20sv.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

CPVLIVE
Jan 20, 2007, 6:12 PM
The new tower is roughly the equivalent of a 30-story building and is the third-tallest of its kind in the world. Only those in Munich, Germany, and Atlanta soar higher.
Not quite sure what 'of its kind' specifies, but the control tower at DIA is 327 feet.

JimInCal
Jan 20, 2007, 7:08 PM
:previous: I just confirmed your 327 footer on the DIA web site. I would think a control tower is a control tower so I'm not sure what they mean by "of its type." We'll give you the nod @ 1 foot higher. :worship: :worship: :worship:

Vicelord John
Jan 20, 2007, 7:14 PM
The new tower is roughly the equivalent of a 30-story building and is the third-tallest of its kind in the world. Only those in Munich, Germany, and Atlanta soar higher.


so let me get this straight... its the third tallest, but there are 4 listed that are taller....?

plinko
Jan 20, 2007, 7:16 PM
The towers at Kuala Lumpur and Inchon are also taller (there may be more).

Still, I thought the base of the new tower was supposed to be round? It's a nice design, but would look so much better with a cylindrical base.

JimInCal
Jan 21, 2007, 12:01 AM
There are evidently others in the world that are taller. I wish the article had been specific about what was meant by "of its kind." That may solve the mystery. Regardless, it's one of the taller control towers and the Phoenix skyline needs all the help it can get.

JimInCal
Jan 21, 2007, 12:03 AM
so let me get this straight... its the third tallest, but there are 4 listed that are taller....?

John,

There are only two listed...Munich is a large city in Germany. "Munich, Germany" :tup:

Sekkle
Jan 21, 2007, 6:23 AM
Regarding the commuter rail situation first (I was in a rush when I posted that article this morning and didn't have time to comment on it, or even read it!) first of all, this really pisses me off...

The arrival of commuter rail in Arizona is not a guarantee because some lawmakers oppose rail, saying it isn't worth the subsidy.

Why is rail not worth the subsidy, especially if freeways are? People who say we need more freeways need only to look at the Los Angeles area to have their opinions totally invalidated. The LA area was built with the idea that freeways would connect all suburbs and that it would be a haven for people wanting to live the "American Dream" and go wherever they pleased at whatever time. Well, how is traffic in LA now? How pleasant/convenient is it to go from one side of that city to the other in your personal vehicle? I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir on this one for a lot of you, but I really don't understand the mentality behind adding more freeways or more capacity to existing freeways. Ok, so I'm done ranting on that point.

^I read that this morning as well, too bad there wouldn't be a link from Flagstaff-Phoenix. I know a lot of NAU students (as well as tourists) would probably use that.
I am all for rail all over the city and the state. I think that, if commuter rail catches on, and if Tucson-Phoenix rail catches on, there is a better chance of seeing Phoenix-Flagstaff rail. It is a lot easier now to imagine Tucson-Phoenix rail because the population in Tucson is so much larger than in Flag. Add to that the existing freight lines and relatively flat grade between the Phoenix and Tucson areas and it's a shoe-in for commuter rail, IMO. Not to say that there shouldn't be a line between here and Flagstaff, but I just don't know if the student population at NAU (plus other commuters of course) is enough to swing it at this point.

Regarding the new tower at Sky Harbor... I should know more about this than I do - the firm I worked for designed and managed the construction for it! It's out of my area of experience, though, so I don't know too much... I heard when it was being built that it would be the tallest in the US but that ATL was building one that was going to be taller (didn't know about DIA, though). Plinko, I will try to ask around about the design of the base of the tower.

DevdogAZ
Jan 21, 2007, 8:57 AM
My question about the new tower at PHX is: Why the hell did it take so long to build it? They started building it in the summer of 2004 (I know, because I was working at the airport at the time). This means that it took 30 months to build, which is longer (I believe) than University of Phoenix Stadium. I realize that it's not easy to build something that tall, but the vast majority of it is just a concrete pour around an elevator shaft. It doesn't make sense that it would take as long as it did.

nbrindley
Jan 22, 2007, 3:37 PM
.....
Why is rail not worth the subsidy, especially if freeways are? People who say we need more freeways need only to look at the Los Angeles area to have their opinions totally invalidated. The LA area was built with the idea that freeways would connect all suburbs and that it would be a haven for people wanting to live the "American Dream" and go wherever they pleased at whatever time. Well, how is traffic in LA now? How pleasant/convenient is it to go from one side of that city to the other in your personal vehicle? I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir on this one for a lot of you, but I really don't understand the mentality behind adding more freeways or more capacity to existing freeways. Ok, so I'm done ranting on that point.
......


I completely agree, I think LA's biggest problem is that it has too many freeways. It seems like you can't drive more than 2 miles without hitting another interchange, and at every interchange traffic slows to a crawl as people try to merge. Hell, even on Saturdays some freeways just crawl along, with no accidents or anything to slow it down. I bet if they scrapped half of their freeways, the traffic situation would improve.

Sekkle
Jan 27, 2007, 2:38 PM
This is an opinion piece from the Republic (former AZ Gov. Bruce Babbit). It's good to see that there seems to be a pretty strong push to get commuter rail going...

Let's get ball rolling on rail
Commuter line could link Valley, Tucson; tracks already in place
Bruce Babbitt
My Turn
Jan. 26, 2007 12:00 AM

Gov. Janet Napolitano is calling for more attention to mass transit - and none too soon.

Our state, now the fastest growing in the country, will increase to 14 million from 6 million residents by 2040. And more than 90 percent of these new residents will be living and working in the "Sun Corridor" that extends from Phoenix through Pinal County to Tucson.

We must plan now for commuter rail service across this Sun Corridor from Phoenix through Mesa and the East Valley and down to Tucson. The urgent task is to secure the necessary right of way. Fortunately, the tracks are already in place; all we need is the right to use them for passenger commuter service.

The rail corridor is the Union Pacific track running from Glendale down Grand Avenue, across Phoenix parallel to Washington Street, north of Sky Harbor, across the Salt River into Tempe, on through Mesa and Chandler down to Picacho and into Tucson.

The time is at hand for the governor and Legislature to secure the necessary rights for passenger service along this line.

Here is the game plan: Recall that Union Pacific is asking the state for help to build a new rail switchyard on its main line near Picacho Peak, just north of Tucson. What the railroad needs from the state for that switchyard is some 600 acres of trust land near Picacho.

The state Land Department has already said that it is preparing to sell that land to Union Pacific.

Not so fast. There is the making of a better deal here.

The governor and the State Land Department should say to Union Pacific that they will sell it the land with a condition that it agree to provide the state "trackage rights" for future passenger-rail service on the existing line between Phoenix and Tucson. Perhaps we don't need to put commuter service up immediately, but the time is coming, and it's time to make a deal.

Is it reasonable to ask the railroad for trackage rights for commuter service?

Yes. It's being done all over the country, including in our neighboring states of California and New Mexico.

The most recent example of which I am aware is the new commuter rail service, the "Rail Runner" now operating on the old Santa Fe line between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, thanks to the determined efforts of Gov. Richardson.

Some readers may recall that we have a precedent right here in Arizona. Back in 1980, weeks of winter rain caused heavy flooding, washing out all the highway bridges over the Salt River, effectively cutting Phoenix in two. The only bridge left standing was the rail trestle across the river into Tempe.

Working with the Department of Transportation, as governor, I placed a call to the president of Southern Pacific and asked for help, making it clear that we could not take "no" for an answer.

Railroads don't particularly like to have passenger trains running on their freight lines, but they agreed to help and made it work. Within a couple of days, we had a commuter train, the "Hattie B," up and running between Phoenix and Mesa across the Tempe rail bridge.

Now, a quarter century later, it's time to revive that experience. But this time around, the flood isn't flowing down the Salt River; it's coming in the form of another 7 million residents. It's time to get started before they arrive.



The writer is a former governor of Arizona and a former secretary of the Department of Interior.

It's not quite as simple as just "securing the necessary right of way" of course... We would need stations, rolling stock and service planning, just to name a few things, but in general it wouldn't be too complicated to implement.

nbrindley
Jan 29, 2007, 4:06 PM
you're right that it isn't a complete solution, but it is a necessary first step.

Sekkle
Feb 3, 2007, 2:27 PM
Not a very exciting article, but they do mention ridership projections...
End-of-the-line construction on light-rail is begun in Mesa
Lars Jacoby
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 3, 2007 12:00 AM
MESA - Light rail is still nearly two years away, but evidence of its impending arrival is everywhere in Mesa.

A groundbreaking for the end-of-the-line station at Main Street and Sycamore was held a week ago.

Utility relocation is underway, and city, rail and business officials hope the inconvenience that construction will bring is worth the wait.

The project, which extends one mile into Mesa, almost didn't happen.

Mike James, Mesa's deputy transportation director, said the rail originally was set to end at McClintock Drive in Tempe, but Mesa pushed to bring it farther east. The line starts in downtown Phoenix.

"Mesa saw if we commit to being a part of the project and make it a three-city project, that's a benefit to the whole region," James said. "By adding that one mile for us, it's just a huge win-win situation for us."

Ridership is expected to average 26,000 people a day, and James anticipates a lot of car-reliant people, or "choice riders," and people new to public transportation will follow once light rail opens.

"My feeling is we're going to have a lot more drive-access riders, people who park and ride, than the originally modeling predicted. That's been the case in Salt Lake City and Denver," James said.

Not everyone is sold.

"It's not anything I think I'll ride. I think they should have put that money into buses that run 24 hours a day, seven days a week," said bus rider Jokemia Wilson, 25, of Mesa.

But James says bus route expansion is one of the benefits of voter-approved Proposition 400, that included the light-rail funding.

"Super grid" bus routes are planned to connect Mesa's Sycamore Transit Center with other cities, and some routes will gain Sunday service. The city expects to see economic development follow the route.

"If you look at the development along light-rail stations in Phoenix and Tempe, you're going to see a lot more employment opportunities along that corridor," James said.

Meanwhile, Mesa and Valley Metro are working to keep the businesses in construction zones informed and to help them survive the work.

Erin Seibel, a Valley Metro community relations coordinator, said she has visited area businesses since July 2005 to ensure that everyone is in the know.

Seibel said utility work goes through May, and track installation will be completed by November. Opening of the line is expected in December 2008.

Sekkle
Feb 4, 2007, 8:03 AM
The Tempe Transportation Center is under construction at the base of A Mountain, just west of College St. Here are some renderings. The project will be a green building and will be the center of transit in Tempe once the LRT is opened.

http://img142.imageshack.us/img142/9909/web206bs6.jpg

http://img142.imageshack.us/img142/4686/web20image204hy0.jpg

http://img142.imageshack.us/img142/1449/plaza20designqc0.jpg

These renderings and others, as well as a project description, are available at http://www.tempe.gov/greenbuildings/Transcenter.htm#Project_Description

PHX31
Feb 4, 2007, 4:28 PM
/\ That is great that they are moving the transit center north to the base of A mountain, right next to the light rail station.... for a couple reasons.

First, having a hub of bus/LRT combined is smart and efficient and may promote a bit of ridership.

Second, taking all of those buses and their loading zones off of College is great. Maybe now the portion of College nearest to University will connect better to the portion of College near The Towers for pedestrians, especially if some infil is put in on the empty/underused lots in the middle.

DevdogAZ
Feb 5, 2007, 4:00 PM
The only problem I have with that location is: Does this mean that this is the closest stop to Sun Devil Stadium? Will everyone get off there and walk the several hundred yards to the SW entrance of the stadium? I had envisioned that there would be a stop directly in front of the stadium which would allow people to offload and to in either the SW or SE entrances.

Sekkle
Feb 5, 2007, 5:16 PM
^ Yes, this will be the closest station to Sun Devil Stadium. It will be approximately 300 yards from the entrance to the stadium. That's just over 1/8-mile. I don't think that's too far to walk. If you park in Lot 59 to go to the game you'll probably end up walking farther. It probably made more sense to locate it in an area that's now a surface lot instead of dealing with the issues of trying to fit a major transit hub at the main entrance to a stadium.

nbrindley
Feb 5, 2007, 5:44 PM
yeah, I'd say most people have to walk farther than this as it is now.

HooverDam
Feb 5, 2007, 5:57 PM
I'd love to only have to walk that far, growing up my family had ASU football season tickets and we'd park in that lot SE of the Mormon church, that was probably a mile (or more) away.

DevdogAZ
Feb 5, 2007, 6:05 PM
I don't have any problem with the distance from the station. It will certainly be closer than you can park. I was just envisioning the stop being right in front to split the crowds between the two exits, and simply because it would be cool to see the train stopped right in front of the ticket plaza with hundreds of people getting off to see the Devils.

Sekkle
Feb 7, 2007, 3:10 PM
City opts to let residents vote on light rail
Lesley Wright
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 7, 2007 12:00 AM
SCOTTSDALE - Scottsdale residents will have their say at the voting booth before the City Council decides whether to build a light-rail line on Scottsdale Road.

The Scottsdale City Council voted 6-1 Tuesday to follow through on petitions demanding an advisory ballot measure to take the pulse of the community regarding light rail.

The council will vote on the wording of the resolution, which Councilman Jim Lane described as a "promise," at a future meeting.

After a heated debate on the issue, the council agreed that it would wait until a new master transportation plan comes out in the spring before sending anything to the ballot box.

The petitions asked for the election to take place before "any plan, funding or construction of any rail transit system on any portion of Scottsdale Road" goes to a council vote.

Bob Vairo, president of the Coalition of Pinnacle Peak, and community activist Mike Merrill presented the petitions on Jan. 16 and asked the council to consider them together.

City Manager Jan Dolan has said that she does not expect the consultants drafting the master plan to recommend light-rail on Scottsdale Road.

Councilman Ron McCullagh voted against the move, saying that it was unnecessary.

The council will also consider a proposal that was defeated in December to look for alternate routes for light-rail lines.
My prediction - City leaders and rail proponents will fail (for lack of trying) to make a strong enough case for LRT on Scottsdale Road and will be overpowered by the voices of NIMBYs in the area, Scottsdale will say no to LRT or streetcars and, 5-10 years from now, when the Phoenix/Tempe/Mesa LRT is successfullly moving riders and spurring devlopment (fingers crossed), Scottsdale will want in.

Sekkle
Feb 7, 2007, 3:28 PM
Also from the Republic today...
Toll lanes suggested for Valley freeways
Mary Jo Pitzl
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 7, 2007 12:00 AM
Tired of watching traffic zip by you in the carpool lane? You could be there, driving solo in the rush-hour traffic, for a fee.

A state lawmaker wants to turn the carpool lanes on Interstate 17 through Phoenix, and potentially other Arizona highways, into high-occupancy toll lanes that would allow drivers to pay to slash time from their morning and evening commutes.

The lanes would remain free to carpools, and the tolls would be collected electronically.

The proposal could change the philosophy of high-occupancy-vehicle lanes from exclusively encouraging carpooling to providing a faster way for solo drivers to get where they're going.

The concept is called HOT lanes, for high-occupancy toll, an idea that has gained ground in congested areas in California and is being promoted by the federal government.

Ron Gould, chairman of the state Senate Transportation Committee, said he thinks the idea is worth exploring in Arizona, where urban drivers spend dozens of hours each year caught in rush-hour traffic. U.S. census data indicate that Phoenix-area drivers spend about 26 hours in congestion each year at a cost of $431 per person, a state Senate analyst said.

"We have road needs, and this is an inexpensive way to pay for it," said Gould, a Lake Havasu City Republican.

His proposal, Senate Bill 1585, would have state highway officials seek bids by November 2012 from private companies to convert I-17's carpool lanes into HOT lanes.

The lanes stretch from Loop 101 in north Phoenix to just north of Interstate 10 near downtown.

The Arizona Department of Transportation also would have the option of seeking bids to transform other carpool lanes.

The proposal hit some speed bumps during its first airing in Gould's committee, and a vote was postponed until after committee members receive a more detailed briefing next week. One concern was whether fees should be collected on any highways in Arizona.

"HOT lane sounds a little sexy," said a skeptical Sen. Robert Blendu, R-Litchfield Park, who objected to having to pay twice for roads already financed by taxpayer money. "It's a pay lane, isn't it?"

Indeed it is, but Gould said it also is a way to move more cars without draining the state budget.
Other toll proposals
It's the second time in a week that the concept of tolls has been raised at the Capitol. And Tuesday's discussion came one day after President Bush proposed a national "congestion initiative."

Among other things, it would award $130 million in grants to help cities and states build electronic toll systems that would charge drivers fees for traveling in and out of big cities during peak traffic times.

In Arizona last week, Sen. Jay Tibshraeny, R-Chandler, introduced a bill to create public highway authorities, essentially public-private collaborations that would build new roads and pay for them with tolls.

Unlike Gould's proposal, Tibshraeny's plan would collect tolls only for the construction of new roads and highways.
Cost-effective approach
Gould pointed to a study ADOT had done of Arizona 51, the Piestewa Freeway, that concluded that HOT lanes are the most cost-effective way to increase capacity. But ADOT officials, who are neutral on the proposal, said there are some problems with using I-17 as a HOT lane.

"As you know, there's not a whole lot of room on I-17 anymore," said Kevin Biesty, ADOT's lobbyist. It's so cramped there may not be room for the transponders and other equipment used to collect tolls electronically.

Also, the I-17 carpool lane doesn't connect to I-10.

Motorists using that lane have to cross over multiple lanes of traffic to switch onto I-10 westbound to Los Angeles or eastbound through central Phoenix.

Gould said he picked that congested corridor simply because he drives it daily and he is aware of its problems. But he said he is considering changing his bill to make Arizona 51 the subject of the trial program, rather than I-17.

And, he acknowledged, the carpool lane is not always clear sailing.

"At times it's free-flowing and at times it's pretty full," he said.
A matter of timing
Highway officials studied HOT lanes earlier this decade and concluded the time was not right to make the switch from carpools to pay-per-drive.

"We have to make sure they (HOV lanes) don't get so congested that the traveler time savings of being in the lane don't go away," said Eric Anderson, transportation manager for the Maricopa Association of Governments, which does Valley freeway planning.

HOT lanes also change the basic idea on which carpool lanes were built, which was to get people to double up in cars in the name of reducing congestion and air pollution.

Studies have shown that the more congested a road, the more enticing the carpool lane becomes.

That means it takes congestion to create a carpool.

But Gould said he'd rather give motorists the option of paying for a faster commute than waiting until a road gets so crowded that motorists feel forced into a carpool.

And, as Sen. Pamela Gorman, R-Anthem, noted, many people flout the carpool-lane rules and drive solo already.

Gould said he is betting those motorists would rather pay a fee to use the lane legally than the fine that comes with a carpool violation.

The bill will be heard next Tuesday before the Transportation Committee. Gould also has invited representatives of the Reason Foundation, a libertarian think tank, to make a presentation on toll roads and HOT lanes.

In general, I think this is a bad idea. I won't get into the whole "regressive tax / unfair advantage for the wealthy over the poor" thing, but in general, the idea of HOT lanes is basically saying "instead of looking at alternatives, let's do what we can to make it easier for people to keep driving their cars by themselves."

HooverDam
Feb 7, 2007, 4:03 PM
I love the idea of a toll lane instead of a carpool lane. I don't think I've ever met a single person in my life who legitimately "carpools". Its just sillyness. How many people live in one area, and have a drive to work on a highway to the same area and also happen to know each other? Not very many. Carpool lanes are always filled with Moms "carpooling" with their kids, or people like me who just grab a friend to go with them so they can use the carpool lane (or people like Larry David who pick up hookers to use the lane). The carpool lane is a waste of space, and I think the paid lane will work much better.

As far as it not being "fair", well the fairs not in town as my Dad always used to say.

DevdogAZ
Feb 7, 2007, 4:07 PM
How would this lane work? If it's free for carpools but you have to pay if you're solo, how would the transponders know not to charge you if you are generally a solo user but on some occasions have a passenger? Would you play a flat monthly rate so it wouldn't matter, or would you pay a "per-use" fee, which would mean that you would likely get charged at times when you shouldn't be charged if you had a passenger?

Sekkle
Feb 7, 2007, 4:18 PM
^ The ones I've seen on the 91 Freeway in Southern California charge on a per-use basis. There is an added lane about halfway through where you can pull to the side if you have a carpool and you won't be charged. A camera takes your picture to verify that you have 2+ people in the car.

PHX31
Feb 7, 2007, 4:37 PM
The first time I saw the toll lanes in So California I thought they were a pretty good idea. But I also thought how much it sucked for people to be stuck in the general purpose lanes for hours and for people to have to live so far from their work that they had to pay so much to get out of the traffic and into the toll lanes.

Also, I saw a huge wreck on that freeway, "it was the the worst accident I'd ever seen" involving those toll lanes in So California... traffic all of the sudden came to a stop and several cars behind me had to slam on their brakes. To avoid ramming the back of our stopped cars and guy swerved through the VPs into the toll lanes, which caused a toll lane driver to swerve and hit the concrete barrier head on, which caused other to swerve back into the gen purpose lanes and hit even more people there. It was crazy and I saw it all in my rear view mirror.

Sekkle
Feb 15, 2007, 3:17 PM
Holy s#!t!
State proposes additional 10 lanes for highway
GARIN GROFF, TRIBUNE
Transportation officials are looking to nearly double the width of Interstate 10 — boosting part of the highway to a staggering 24 lanes.

The wider I-10 would begin in Tempe, where U.S. 60 dumps drivers from the East Valley onto the interstate toward Phoenix. The extra lanes would continue to east Phoenix and could one day extend as far as Interstate 17.

The freeway’s size would be unlike anything in Arizona and would take time to get used to, transportation planners said. Even local officials struggled to grasp the freeway’s size when they first saw a diagram showing all the lanes.

“I’m thinking: 24 lanes, that’s not too bad — 12 on each side,” Tempe Vice Mayor Hut Hutson said. “All of a sudden it dawned on me — 12 on a side! I couldn’t believe it.”

The new design essentially adds another freeway on the outside of the existing highway. A barrier would separate the inner freeway from a new parallel road.

Other major metro areas have similar configurations, but the length of this segment could become the longest freeway section of this width, said Eric Anderson, the transportation planner for the Maricopa Association of Governments.

“No doubt it will be one of the widest freeways in the country,” Anderson said. “And maybe the widest.”

The first segment of the 24-lane freeway would run from U.S. 60 to about 40th Street, cost about $550 million and take three years to build. The association has the funds to start construction in 2011 or 2012. The work would include a new, more efficient interchange with state Route 143.

Planners are looking to widen I-10 from I-17 to the Loop 202 Santan Freeway, which could raise the project’s price to $1.3 billion. Officials don’t yet have the money for that much expansion, but Anderson said it’s being studied to prepare for traffic demands decades from now.

The widening that is funded would dramatically improve the freeway, easing one of the Valley’s most congested areas, Anderson said.

The wider I-10 would include a second HOV lane to run along the five or six lanes in place on most of I-10.

Other new lanes would be part of the parallel road, called a collector-distributor road. A concrete barrier would separate the outside road because freeways become bogged down once they get wider than about six lanes per direction, Anderson said.

Weaving is the major problem as drivers cross multiple lanes to reach an exit. The barrier between the two roads would only open up every several miles, which cuts weaving and makes the freeway more efficient than if it had the same number of lanes without a barrier, Anderson said.

Arizona Department of Transportation would likely expand the freeway to 24 lanes all at one time, Anderson said. Parts of the freeway in Tempe have 12 lanes, though at least one segment has 14 near the U.S. 60 interchange.

The Tempe segment of I-10 is a priority because of congestion and the amount of urban growth south and east of the interchange with U.S. 60. Also, traffic at the Broadway curve is projected to reach 450,000 vehicles a day in 20 years. That’s up from 294,000 a day now, a virtual tie with Arizona’s busiest freeway. The top spot is I-10 at state Route 51, where 303,000 vehicles pass a day.

Initial studies show it will take $200 million to $300 million to buy land for the wider freeway and relocate numerous businesses. It doesn’t appear the wider freeway would disturb cemeteries at the Broadway curve in Tempe or substantially carve into the buttes there, Tempe officials said.

Tempe is eager to see some of those lanes. But not all of them.

The city was supposed to get extra lanes on U.S. 60 and I-10 heading toward Phoenix starting this year, Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman said. That was part of a deal Tempe struck with the ADOT seven years ago, when ADOT was widening U.S. 60, the mayor said.

ADOT wanted to widen U.S. 60 further, but Tempe objected because there wasn’t enough money to add lanes to I-10 at the same time. Without more lanes on I-10, the city argued, a bottleneck would just turn U.S. 60 into a parking lot during the morning rush hour.

But the original widening plan for I-10 was delayed as ADOT got requests from other communities to make the freeway even wider, Hallman said, breaking a deal to make I-10 a priority around U.S. 60.

“That promise has never been kept,” Hallman said.

ADOT has let too many other communities request improvements to I-10 and expanded the project to a nearly impossible scope, Hallman said. That resulted in the massive 24-lane proposal, Hallman said, instead of a more modest improvement that Tempe had expected sooner.

“Now we have a bigger parking lot, as was feared by Tempe residents, and lots of excuses.”

ADOT acknowledges the scope of the project expanded.

“When the U.S. 60 agreement was reached, it was thought the I-10 improvement study would be done or close to completion at this time and we’d be zeroing in on improvements at the U.S. 60 interchange,” ADOT spokesman Doug Nintzel said. “But the process has become much more complex.”

ADOT and MAG are looking to widen more of the freeway than originally thought and planning for needs 20 years from now, Nintzel said. Planners added a commuter rail study between Phoenix and Tucson. The route would run parallel to I-10 and could reduce the burden on the highway.

Hallman and Hutson support rail service and want to see how much it could change freeway use.

“That would relieve a lot of that traffic,” Hutson said. “I’d be interested in looking at that before I’d buy off on 24 lanes.”
Why not just plan for the distant future and do something like 36 lanes in each direction? That should hold us for a while!

sundevilgrad
Feb 15, 2007, 3:23 PM
Why not just plan for the distant future and do something like 36 lanes in each direction? That should hold us for a while!


Let's go with a 3-story freeway! That would be unique.

HX_Guy
Feb 15, 2007, 3:31 PM
Wow.

Are these people on crack? Instead of trying to encourage people to use other modes of transportation, they are doing the opposite?

KEVINphx
Feb 15, 2007, 9:37 PM
what i'd like to know is how the hell that is even possible??? there is NO room for 10 additional lanes in that stretch of freeway! how much would be demolished to make way for this hideous freeway? hm.:shrug:

DevdogAZ
Feb 15, 2007, 9:54 PM
If there is anywhere in the central part of the valley where widening would actually not be that difficult, this is it. Most businesses are set back quite a ways from the freeway in that area, plus there's the cargo section of the airport, and the Salt River Bed. There just wouldn't be that much that would have to be moved.

As for the next phase they discussed for the I-17 to 202 section, I'm not sure how they're going to do that. They'd have to widen the tunnel, and I don't know if there's room for any additional lanes in that canyon. Widening the excavated portion of that section of the freeway would take lots of residential development that borders the freeway on both sides.

PHX31
Feb 15, 2007, 9:55 PM
How is it going to work? Essentially an inner freeway and an outer freeway? How do people get off the inner freeway, or how do people on the outer freeway continue on east and west? Talk about a major bottle neck... 24 lanes dropping to 10 or 12. How would they get around that? There's already tons of traffic west of I-17 in the west of this monster freeway, and tons of traffic south of US60 south of this monster freeway. How will there not be bottlenecks? Do people in charge not have any more ideas rather than keep building bigger and bigger and more and more freeways?

Why don't we just displace all homes and business in the entire city, build one humongous road that covers the entire metro area, and people can just live and work in their cars?

Sekkle
Feb 15, 2007, 10:08 PM
Why don't we just displace all homes and business in the entire city, build one humongous road that covers the entire metro area, and people can just live and work in their cars?
:haha:
By the way, I just posted this article on the general transportation forum, so if anyone wants to defend this idea to a wider audience... good luck!

plinko
Feb 15, 2007, 11:47 PM
As for the next phase they discussed for the I-17 to 202 section, I'm not sure how they're going to do that. They'd have to widen the tunnel, and I don't know if there's room for any additional lanes in that canyon. Widening the excavated portion of that section of the freeway would take lots of residential development that borders the freeway on both sides.

The plan is only for the I-10 section from I-17/24th down and around the Broadway curve down to the 202 interchange. This plan doesn't effect the 'Inner Loop' section of I-10 through downtown at all.

That being said, PHX31 is on the right track about each end of the thing. How the hell does that work? I suppose you just tie everything in at interchanges but I still can't see how you can cut the freeway in 1/2 and not expect a cluster!

Still, if they intend to do this: BUILD IT ALL AT ONCE! This is not the type of project you can build in segments. Talk about disruptive...like 10-15 years disruptive...

You know, Los Angeles is nearby proof that you can't build cities at moderate densities and build your way out with highway lanes. That's why most freeways in LA County are at the most 8-10 lanes. Once you get beyond that they simply aren't effective anymore at moving traffic efficiently. Orange County still seems to think they can...and the intersections of the 16 lane mega Orange freeways with the older but equally passable LA freeways are backed up 7 days a week for most daylight hours.

DevdogAZ
Feb 16, 2007, 12:06 AM
^^^ Ah, I misread the original article and didn't realize it said "202 SANTAN" so I was thinking the only place where the 10 and the 202 intersect was at the mini-stack.

Which reminds me of one of my biggest pet peeves of the Valley's freeway numbering system. Why do they keep the same number when there are segments of the freeway on two sides of town? Tell me where the 101/McDowell is? There's two places. 101/Shea? Two places. 202/Gilbert? Two places. Why don't they give the different segments different numbers so we don't have the potential confusion?

HooverDam
Feb 16, 2007, 12:57 AM
Which reminds me of one of my biggest pet peeves of the Valley's freeway numbering system. Why do they keep the same number when there are segments of the freeway on two sides of town? Tell me where the 101/McDowell is? There's two places. 101/Shea? Two places. 202/Gilbert? Two places. Why don't they give the different segments different numbers so we don't have the potential confusion?

Probably because its all the same highway. I lived in St Louis for college, and roads would magically change names as they went through different cities and towns (which happens here as well, but not as often). I really hated....one road would have 5 different names and it would be very confusing.

DevdogAZ
Feb 16, 2007, 1:25 AM
Probably because its all the same highway. I lived in St Louis for college, and roads would magically change names as they went through different cities and towns (which happens here as well, but not as often). I really hated....one road would have 5 different names and it would be very confusing.

I realize it's the same road, but when it loops like that, it's silly to give it the same name. I'd like to see the 101 be split into two names, one east of the 17 and one west. I'd also like to see the 202 get split into two names, one north of the 60, one south. That would mostly eliminate the confusion.

Diddle E Squat
Feb 16, 2007, 1:29 AM
How is it going to work? Essentially an inner freeway and an outer freeway? How do people get off the inner freeway, or how do people on the outer freeway continue on east and west? Talk about a major bottle neck... 24 lanes dropping to 10 or 12. How would they get around that? There's already tons of traffic west of I-17 in the west of this monster freeway, and tons of traffic south of US60 south of this monster freeway. How will there not be bottlenecks? Do people in charge not have any more ideas rather than keep building bigger and bigger and more and more freeways?

Why don't we just displace all homes and business in the entire city, build one humongous road that covers the entire metro area, and people can just live and work in their cars?

You can find a 22-lane example of how this would work in that evil auto-centric hellhole known as Toronto (Highway 401.)

JCarp
Feb 16, 2007, 1:59 AM
Just a few observations from someone who lives south of town (Maricopa to be exact) and drives I-10 daily…

Inbound, the freeway bogs down at the 202 “Santan” and finally picks up at the Broadway Curve. While a few extra lanes might be nice from…

Tempe, where U.S. 60 dumps drivers from the East Valley onto the interstate toward Phoenix


…I would much rather have those extra lanes from the 202 to the 60. Or better yet, put in light rail (or even Commuter Rail) from Chandler to Tempe parallel to I-10. That would relieve some of the congestion on the southern (or should I say East) end of I-10.

Outbound, the freeway starts to bog down as it nears the airport, and doesn’t pick up again until around the 202 “Santan”. This makes me believe that the biggest bottleneck again is at the 202, helping back up traffic all the way into the heart of Phoenix. Again a few more lanes would be nice, but I would prefer more transit options instead of a 24 lane freeway. Or even some extra lanes in the center of I-10 that could be used by either direction pending on the need (I-15 toward San Diago has this option).

Another fix (that is even in the works) would be to finish extending the 202 from I-10, south of South Mountain, back to the 10. This would enable some of the traffic to just avoid driving thru the middle of Phoenix, putting less cars (and big trucks) on the road, alleviating the need for all those extra lanes.

I feel that this is so simple that a child… well at least a teenage commuter… could figure it out.

This fix is only for the south east end of the valley. Maybe another "expert" can give us their fix for the rest of it.

One last note… I moved here from Salt Lake City a few years ago, and loved their light rail system when I was there. When it came to ridership projections, SLC’s light rail currently has four times as many riders then what they thought they were going to have. It works people. I just wish I could use it here…

Thank you all for letting me vent on the freeway issue, I will hold my ideas for light-rail for another time.

SethAZ
Feb 16, 2007, 4:28 AM
DevdogAZ, I thought the 101 and 202 were already split into two names: the 101 north/south to the 17 is named Pima and the other half of the 101 through Glendale is the Agua Fria. The 202 through Tempe up to Power Rd (and soon to the 60) is the Red Mountain and the other half is the SanTan 202

oliveurban
Feb 16, 2007, 10:25 AM
More ...

Tempe pushes for 24 lanes on Broadway Curve
Plans calls for connector freeways to run alongside I-10

Bob Golfen
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 16, 2007

A remedy for Interstate 10's notorious Broadway Curve in Tempe, one of the worst freeway bottlenecks in the Valley, will not come easily. Or soon.

But while designers and engineers at the Arizona Department of Transportation wrestle with the complex project, Tempe officials are growing impatient.

Air pollution from idling cars and trucks stuck in rush-hour traffic, along with city streets crowded with commuters trying to avoid the freeway mess, are prompting calls for acceleration of the I-10 widening project, which is not slated to begin until 2011.

The concept for the I-10 improvements now being studied call for additional "local lanes" to be built alongside the current freeway to serve as connector routes between U.S. 60, Tempe, east Phoenix and Sky Harbor International Airport. In some areas, the total lanes on and around I-10 will total 24, double the number of current lanes.

Nearly 300,000 vehicles pass through the area daily, fed by heavily traveled U.S. 60 and Arizona 143, a major access route to Sky Harbor, along with through traffic on I-10 heading to and from downtown Phoenix.

On Thursday evening, Tempe council members met with ADOT representatives to discuss the project and its implications.

"The problem we face is that when the U.S. 60 was expanded to its widest width through Tempe, we were promised that ramps would be built and the Broadway Curve would be widened to handle more traffic," Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman said.

The immediate traffic needs are being ignored as ADOT and planners at the Maricopa Association of Governments, or MAG, look far ahead to the needs of the future, Hallman said. The scope of the project has grown and the improvements have been pushed back at least three years, he said.

"I appreciate that they want to plan for the people who want to live in Maricopa and Pinal County 2030, but they are substantially undermining the quality of life for the people who are living here in Tempe now," he said.

Traffic through the freeway segment is expected to grow by half during the next 20 years, said ADOT spokesman Doug Nintzel, with projected growth putting the daily traffic load at 450,000. Freeway planners must look to the future, Nintzel said, or risk building highways that quickly become obsolete as traffic pressure increases.

"It's not that ADOT is adding on to it," he said. "The local communities have expressed a desire to make these improvements, and ADOT is working with regional planners as to what they believe should be done."

Accelerating the freeway construction would be beneficial, he added, but the complicated issues of design and engineering are still on the drawing board. And the federally required environmental study could take another two years.

In the concept plan, each local connector alongside I-10 would be a four-lane freeway in itself and would include a web of ramps designed to take local traffic off I-10. The current I-10 lanes would serve as express lanes through the area, Nintzel said, "with destinations farther down the line."

The idea is to take significant traffic off the main trunk of I-10 while simplifying the flow of vehicles through the segment.

"The ultimate goal is to try and segregate traffic to get the traffic going downtown in the correct lanes and traffic going to airport in the correct lanes to avoid all the weaving that's going on," said Bob Hazlett, senior engineer for MAG.

"This has been in the regional transportation plan for some time now as a widening project for the Broadway Curve to facilitate the ramps from U.S. 60 as well as improve the interchange at Arizona 143."

JI5
Feb 16, 2007, 10:40 PM
^^^ Which reminds me of one of my biggest pet peeves of the Valley's freeway numbering system. Why do they keep the same number when there are segments of the freeway on two sides of town? Tell me where the 101/McDowell is? There's two places. 101/Shea? Two places. 202/Gilbert? Two places. Why don't they give the different segments different numbers so we don't have the potential confusion?

Do what I do, and just ASSUME people are talking about the east side of town. West side?? Where is that?!? Who goes there? Santan Freeway??? Does that exist??

combusean
Feb 18, 2007, 12:14 PM
Sky Harbor expects to get go-ahead to build $1.1 bil people-mover train (http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/0218airporttrain0218.html)

Ginger D. Richardson
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 18, 2007 12:00 AM

Your flight leaves at 9 a.m. on a Friday - peak travel time at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

But rather than crawling through morning traffic on the always congested Sky Harbor Boulevard and fighting for mere inches of curb space at the constantly crammed Terminal 4, you have a friend drop you off just north of the airport, at the corner of 44th and Washington streets.

There is more space here - plenty of room to pull your car up to the curb, where a Skycap quickly greets you. In no time at all, your bags are checked, and your boarding pass is in your hand.

You hop on a driverless, automated train, and within four minutes you arrive at your destination: bustling Terminal 4.

This is Sky Harbor in 2013.

The first step to making it a reality could happen this week. On Tuesday, the Phoenix City Council is scheduled to give the go-ahead to build a $1.1 billion people-mover system that will ultimately make it easier for travelers to get into, out of and around the airport.

The starter phase of the project will connect Terminal 4 with the airport's east economy parking garages and lots and the Metro's light-rail system. Its 2013 opening date, though, is nearly five years after the expected completion of light rail, meaning those passengers wishing to connect to the airport will have to be bused to the terminals for the foreseeable future.

The automated train system is one of several major Sky Harbor improvement projects approved last year by the Federal Aviation Administration. Others include a new 33-gate terminal, the realignment of Sky Harbor Boulevard and construction of two new taxiways.

In total, the airport has planned enhancements that will cost more than $2.9 billion over the next 10 years, making this the most ambitious, and most expensive, expansion in the airport's 78-year history. The upgrades are designed to help Phoenix accommodate the Valley's air-traffic needs in the coming decades.

The new round of construction follows other major improvement work at the airport. In recent years, officials have built an $89 million air traffic control tower, a $285 million rental-car center and refinished much of Terminal 4's passenger areas.

The new work means that passengers will continue to have to grapple with construction-related hassles in the coming years and may have to pay more to use the airport, via higher parking rates, ticket fees and rental car charges.

Easing congestion

Phoenix Sky Harbor is the nation's eighth-busiest airport.

Last year, more than 41 million passengers passed through its gates, and conservative estimates suggest that the number is expected to increase to more than 50 million by 2015.

Airport administrators say that Sky Harbor's airfield can handle the anticipated growth.

But its roadway system cannot.

For example, congestion at Terminal 4's curbs during the busy holiday travel season resulted in a backlog of vehicles spilling out onto Sky Harbor Boulevard, the airport's main thoroughfare. The Thanksgiving Day incident forced the airport to divert traffic into the terminal parking garage, and aviation officials fear the problem will only get worse in the coming years.

"The roadway system is going to fail, just like our freeways have failed," Deputy City Manager David Krietor said. "And we're just not going to be able to move traffic through the airport."

The new automated train system would help eliminate some of the strain by giving passengers another way to get in and out of Sky Harbor. Plans call for the starter line to connect to Terminal 4 because 80 percent of the airport's passengers leave or arrive at its gates.

The terminal serves the airport's two hub carriers, US Airways and Southwest Airlines.

Design and cost

Phoenix first recognized the need for an automated train system back in 2001 but struggled with the project's design and ballooning cost. Original plans called for tunneling the tram under the airport's terminals and Interstate 10 on the airport's western end, near the rental-car center.

This new plan saves money by keeping the train's tracks at ground level, elevating them as it nears the airport. But the project's first phase will still cost $420 million. The second segment will extend from Terminal 4 west to Terminal 3 and what is now Terminal 2. The line will continue on to the rental-car center at 16th Street and Buckeye Roads. It will cost an additional $650 to $700 million.

And those numbers do not account for inflation.

Airport officials say they plan to construct a new transit center at 44th Street and Washington so that light-rail passengers who wish to head into Sky Harbor can simply take an escalator to the new train system. The train station also will function much like a terminal without planes, so that passengers arriving by car can simply drop friends and family off at the curb.

"This is really going to be the new north entrance into Sky Harbor airport," Acting Aviation Director Danny Murphy said of the new center. "It will have all the curb amenities that any terminal has."

Next steps

Once the airport receives Phoenix City Council approval to move forward, it plans to seek proposals from developers interested in building and managing the system.

Airport trains, or people movers, are at nearly 20 U.S. airports, including Denver, Dallas/Fort Worth and Atlanta.

The systems differ. Some run on rubber tires, others on track. Most have top speeds in the 35 miles per hour range. Many are designed to make it easier for passengers to catch connecting flights out of different terminals.

The one at San Francisco International, however, is probably most like what Sky Harbor is planning to build. The system, called AirTrain, was designed mainly to get passengers to the airport's rental-car center and outlying parking areas.

Lee Mitchell, the system's administrator, said about 300,000 people use the train every month and it has helped to cut down on vehicular traffic at the airport.

"We had a lot of bus shuttle services, and it did eliminate that," Mitchell said. "And if you are renting a car here at the airport, you basically have to take this."

Sky Harbor is not specifying which kind of system it wants here, Deputy Aviation Director Jane Morris said, because it wants companies to propose what they think will work best.

"We don't want to pick a type because then you limit your options," she said.

Although the train's starter segment should be open by 2013, construction on the extension will not begin until 2016 because the airport needs the time to pay for this and the other improvement projects.

It will likely be 2020 before the entire train line is finished.

Reach the reporter at ginger .richardson@arizonarepublic.com

Azndragon837
Feb 18, 2007, 1:08 PM
^Finally, is what I say. They need to hurry up and build that darn people-mover. It is desparately needed, and it will definately help out airport vehicle and passenger traffic. 2013 may be a long ways away, but something is better than nothing.

-Andrew

sundevilgrad
Feb 19, 2007, 7:06 PM
Doesn't look like US Airways or Southwest is very pleased about the increased rent associated with the train... It'll be interesting to see how this turns out.

Airlines balk at Sky Harbor expansion fees
Ginger D. Richardson
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 19, 2007 12:00 AM

Phoenix is ready to forge ahead with a $2.9 billion expansion of Sky Harbor International Airport, a move that would ensure that the Valley's primary commercial airfield could accommodate passenger traffic for decades.

But although the city says the construction is necessary to keep the airport from choking on its own growth, the plan is not sitting well with Sky Harbor's two hub carriers - Southwest Airlines and US Airways - who feel that some of the projects may not be needed.

Both airlines would help foot the bill by paying higher fees and rent over the next decade. advertisement




"We have a real long history of partnership with the city of Phoenix," Bob Montgomery, Southwest's vice president of properties, said Sunday. "That is what is so troubling. It's a complete departure from that relationship."

Morgan Durrant, a spokesman for US Airways, said, "Our initial reaction . . . is that the proposed fee increases are quite disturbing. We're a low-cost airline, and it's difficult to grow low-fare service at a high-cost airport."

Phoenix's planned expansion program includes a host of large-scale projects, including construction of a 33-gate terminal where Terminal 2 now stands and an automated train system that would make it easier to move passengers into, out of and around the airport.

Other plans include construction of two cross-field taxiways and the straightening of Sky Harbor Boulevard.

The Federal Aviation Administration in the spring deemed the projects necessary after a federal approval process that began in 2001.

Sky Harbor officials say the planned upgrades, which also include improvements to Terminal 4, would benefit the airlines, too, and that they should share in the costs. Airport officials briefed the carriers on the plan last week.

"These investments are required for us to maintain Sky Harbor as an asset for the entire state," acting Aviation Director Danny Murphy said.

Without the improvements, Sky Harbor officials said, residents and visitors will start to see more frequent baggage backups and flight delays, longer security lines and continual logjams at the terminals' curbside check-in areas.


What's being built
Sky Harbor officials say the construction would help it keep up with booming population growth.

Last year, more than 41 million people traveled through Sky Harbor's gates, and the airport logged 546,510 takeoffs and landings, according to the FAA.

Those numbers are expected to jump to as many as 50 million people and 670,000 takeoffs and landings by 2015.

But the airport, as it is today, cannot accommodate those numbers.

One of the first projects that officials plan to start is construction of a $1.1 billion automated train system designed to quickly shuttle passengers from a new north airport entrance at 44th and Washington streets to the airport's east economy parking garages and lots and on to Terminal 4.

The system is to be built in phases. Planning for the first segment, which ends at Terminal 4, is to begin almost immediately and is scheduled to open in 2013.

The second phase, which won't be ready until 2020, would extend the train line west through the heart of the airport, connecting passengers with the airport's other terminals and the rental-car center.

The second major planned project is construction of a 33-gate terminal at a cost of about $650 million.

The new building would give Phoenix more gate space and allow the airport to possibly shift all of the Southwest Airlines operations out of Terminal 4. That would alleviate congestion there while still giving US Airways room to expand.

Federal regulations require that construction work begin within three years of receiving FAA approval, or in spring 2009. So even though Sky Harbor doesn't plan to start building the terminal until 2013, it will begin site and preparation work immediately.

Construction is expected to be completed by 2016.

In the meantime, Sky Harbor plans to begin designing and building a final, eight-gate concourse on the south side of Terminal 4. The area would help accommodate the growth needs of both Southwest Airlines and US Airways until the new terminal is complete.

Preliminary estimates for the new concourse are $80 million.

Finally, Terminal 4 is scheduled for a major face lift. In recent years, Phoenix has done a lot of work to the passenger level, reconstructing and upgrading the retail and food areas. But similar improvements are needed to the baggage claim and ticketing levels as well as the terminal's mechanical and air-conditioning systems.


Paying for it
Sky Harbor is self-funding, meaning that fees charged to the customers and airlines that use it must cover its expenses.

Therefore, it is turning first to its airlines to help pay for the work. The airport got about $88 million in 2005 in fees it charged its carriers. But hitting airlines with additional costs is proving to be an unpopular idea. Three airlines - United, Continental and American - are suing Los Angeles because airport commissioners at Los Angeles International recently approved steep boosts in terminal-maintenance fees.

Southwest, which is fighting an increase in the rental rates of terminals there, filed a formal complaint with the Department of Transportation on Friday, Montgomery said.

Sky Harbor's proposed increases of 5 percent a year aren't nearly as high, but carriers are still concerned. In particular, they have questions about whether the $1.1 billion train system is necessary.

"We're going to be paying special attention to that portion of it," said Durrant, of US Airways.

Montgomery was even more blunt.

"We've not received one letter from a customer saying Sky Harbor is too congested," he said.

"I think the bottom line is that we disagree (with their assessment) that it is needed, or that it will do anything it is supposed to do."

The airlines, which measure expenses by cost per enplaned passenger, say that simply passing their costs on to customers in the form of higher fares isn't an option in the competitive industry.

"In the end, our customers don't care what the source of the cost problem is," Gary Kelly, Southwest's chief executive officer, said in an interview in Phoenix this month.

"They just want to pay a good, decent low fare."

At Sky Harbor, the cost per enplaned passenger is $4.65, but it would jump to $7 or $8 by 2016 with the planned increases.

Deputy Aviation Director Paul Blue said the airport has worked hard to listen to its carriers and opted to stretch out construction over a longer time to avoid burdening them with unnecessary costs.

In total, the airport has identified $5 billion in capital needs over the next two decades.

"We have had extensive meetings with them," Blue said. "We have taken to heart their advice.

"We're talking about change that is going to average about 5 percent of a year for the next 10 years, so I don't think what we are proposing has any resemblance to what is going on in Los Angeles."

In addition to charging the airlines more, Phoenix hopes that it will be able to take in extra cash via the passenger facility charge, a $4.50 fee tacked on to every ticket originating at the airport. The FAA last week submitted legislation to Congress that would, among other things, increase that fee to $6.

The revenue adds up: During fiscal 2006, the fee racked up more than $94 million in revenue for Sky Harbor.



If the Phoenix City Council on Tuesday authorizes the airport to move forward, which it is expected to do, site work on the terminal project and design and planning on the automated train system could begin almost immediately.

sundevilgrad
Feb 19, 2007, 7:07 PM
Damn double post...

DevdogAZ
Feb 20, 2007, 11:19 PM
DevdogAZ, I thought the 101 and 202 were already split into two names: the 101 north/south to the 17 is named Pima and the other half of the 101 through Glendale is the Agua Fria. The 202 through Tempe up to Power Rd (and soon to the 60) is the Red Mountain and the other half is the SanTan 202

Sure, the freeways have names, but does anybody use them? Does anyone say, "Take the Pima north to the Squaw Peak" or do they say, "Take the 101 to the 51?" In my opinion and experience, the names are unnecessary as they just serve to confuse people. They simply need to create unique numbers for each segment to differentiate them.

vertex
Feb 20, 2007, 11:37 PM
Sure, the freeways have names, but does anybody use them? Does anyone say, "Take the Pima north to the Squaw Peak" or do they say, "Take the 101 to the 51?" In my opinion and experience, the names are unnecessary as they just serve to confuse people. They simply need to create unique numbers for each segment to differentiate them.

:previous: Sorry, but I can't disagree more. Most natives and old-timers still refer to these freeways by the names. Red mountain, Santan, Pima, Maricopa, Agua Fria, Superstition, Squaw Peak, Black Canyon, Hohokam, Papago, etc.

I will agree that the names of the newer freeways aren't as well known. But honestly it's a lot easier to simply say the "Red Mountain" freeway, rather than describing it as "that 202 segment that runs thru north Mesa".

The only real confusion came when they reused "Pima" for the Scottdale 101; Pima used to refer to the segment of I-10 south/east of the Broadway curve, before it turned into the Maricopa.

Oh, and renaming the Squaw Peak as the Piestewa didn't help either.

nbrindley
Feb 21, 2007, 12:18 AM
I have to agree with devdog on this one. I lived in Phoenix for 12 years, and the only freeways I ever referred to by name were the Squaw Peak and Black Canyon freeways, and even then I didn't always use the names. For everything else I always used the highway number. I always hated listening to the traffic on the radio, because they would blitz through it and say things like "there's an accident on the Maricopa and the Red Mountain is slowing quite a bit" and I would never have a clue as to where they were talking. Even after 4 years of doing deliveries throughout the entire metro, to the point that I new exactly where every major road in the valley was, I only vaguely knew what the hell the names of the freeways were.

And while we're on the topic, I still don't know what 'The Stack' refers to.

combusean
Feb 21, 2007, 1:29 AM
^ The stack is that monster interchange for the I-10 and I-17. The "mini-stack" is the I-10/AZ-202/AZ-51 interchange, and the "Split" is where the 17 splits off the 10 west of the airport.

combusean
Feb 21, 2007, 4:38 AM
Scottsdale Chamber members back light rail (http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/stories/2007/02/19/daily13.html?surround=lfn)

The Business Journal of Phoenix - 11:34 AM MST Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Scottsdale business people would prefer light-rail type transportation along Scottsdale Road and the Loop 101 freeway and may be willing to support local bonds to help pay for such a system, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce.

The survey, conducted earlier this month, was sent to about 1,500 chamber members via e-mail with 322 responding.

Other survey results showed:

* 82 percent of respondents find getting around Scottsdale more challenging than five years ago.
* Carpools, flex-time and telecommuting were not seen as strong options.
* More than 80 percent say the freeway system is important to their business and needs to be widened.
* 60 percent say more buses are needed.
* 63 percent would favor voter-approved bonding to pay for transportation improvements while 50 percent favor special taxing on the beneficiaries of such improvements.


:tup: Good for Scottsdale. Hopefully city honchos can listen to the wise sages in the business community rather than the backward NB&C's that have hitherto dominated the discussion

JI5
Feb 21, 2007, 6:19 AM
Sure, the freeways have names, but does anybody use them? Does anyone say, "Take the Pima north to the Squaw Peak" or do they say, "Take the 101 to the 51?" In my opinion and experience, the names are unnecessary as they just serve to confuse people. They simply need to create unique numbers for each segment to differentiate them.

I actually used to have an inside-joke about this with my co-workers. We used to always give directions using the names of the freeways instead of the numbers. Its fun, you should try it sometime.

"Take the agua fria freeway to the superstition freeway, get off on the hohokam, and take that to the red mountain freeway. That will turn into the maricopa fwy. Exit 7th street." LOL!