Recently the residents of the Arcadia area gathered together to voice their opinions on a new project concerning 56th Street from Thomas Road to Camelback.
On June 20, the first of three meetings took place at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church.
The main focus of the 56th Street Transportation Project is to provide safety not only to drivers, but also to pedestrians and bikers along the corridor.
The project idea was submitted to the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) in mid-2017. The Arcadia Osborn Neighborhood Association and the Arcadia Camelback Mountain Neighborhood Association were supportive and the City was later awarded with a Design Assistance grant from MAG.
“The grant is used as a way to plan out a few options of what to do in the area. The idea behind the grant is to explore feasibility, explore cost and ideas of what the community might embrace,” said Joseph Perez, City of Phoenix project manager.
Once an idea is chosen, it will be taken to the Phoenix City Council who will then decide what funding will be rewarded.
Accidents involving people, automobile fatalities and collisions, high traffic volume, speeding, connectivity to schools, parks and the canal system are all challenges facing the 56th Street corridor.
“We created a defined area of need and a set of issues we wanted to solve. We went after many key stakeholders for support, like local schools, city council, state representatives and neighborhood associations and were selected by the county for a design assistance grant,” said Tristahn Schaub, vice president of the ACMNA.
Once the grant was awarded, it was time to hear the community’s ideas for what should be done for the safety of the corridor.
The committee set up three meetings, the first of which took place in June. More than 150 people crowded into a room at the Prince of Peace, ready to voice their concerns.
“The people of Arcadia are passionate about the safety and connectivity of our neighborhood. The people and neighborhood have the power to influence, and that’s what these meetings are about,” said resident Jeannie Lavelle.
The first meeting was mainly to hear the people out and see what issues were most concerning. People spoke about the traffic, the traffic circle and speeding along the corridor, as well as lack of sidewalks and some traffic signals/street lights in the area.
“This corridor is like an artery in Arcadia, and this road is dangerous. The main issue is to get speeding under control,” said resident Mackey Martin.
Along with the safety of the corridor, the meeting also focused on the aesthetics of the area. Ideas were talked about such as planters, pavers and themed trees.
There are multiple companies taking part in this project, including Harrington Planning + Design, who will collaborate with the community and stakeholders to create a new vision of the landscape. Ritoch-Powell & Associates (RPA) will work on the civil engineering and drainage issues, Matrix Design will handle public outreach and stakeholder engagement, and Y2K Engineering has traffic engineering and safety.
“At this point, the minimum outcome should be a bike lane on either side of the street north of Exeter and some kind of sidewalk on both sides,” Perez said. “That is the Design Assistance grant that the City applied for at MAG.”
The overall construction could start within three years or so with a five-year horizon for completion.
“I’m hopeful that this street will become more attractive than it already is,” said Perez. “The issues have been identified and by us adding more equitable infrastructure to the street, we are going to encourage people to walk and ride bikes and make the street more beautiful than it already is. That is our hope for 56th Street.”
The final meeting for the 56th Street project is set for September 19. For more details, visit acmna.org.