Maricopa County officials seek public comments for transportation plan

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Maricopa County officials are looking ahead to another five years of planning for roadway improvements.

The Maricopa County Department of Transportation is doing so through the Transportation System Plan 2040. The plan sets the framework of the future transportation system as population, development, technology, and other factors impact the country’s fourth-most populous county.

The plan will evaluate roadway needs, set performance measures, and provide a clear vision through 2040. MCDOT said the TSP 2035 focused on capacity-driven needs. However, TSP 2040 will incorporate recent MCDOT planning efforts to inform a broader scope of needs.

To complete the 2040 plan, MCDOT needs a clear understanding of challenges and opportunities that are present in the county’s transportation system. As users of the transportation system, the public is encouraged to submit their comments on the plan by using MCDOT’s Interactive County Map. They can also email TSP2040@mail.maricopa.gov or call 602-506-4176.

“Previous TSP’s have helped MCDOT identify needs in the transportation system,” said Chad Amos, a spokesman for MCDOT. “We are unable to be everywhere in such a large geographic area as Maricopa County and rely on citizens to be our eyes in the community. The interactive map was used during our most recent TSP and provides an additional area for residents to reach out.”

Input includes gaps in the system, areas of high congestion, safety concerns, maintenance needs, etc., according to MCDOT. The agency will review replies and display them within 72 hours.

People are able to input a location description, their comment, and select a topic like pedestrian, bicycle, congestion, and signal timing. Users are also able to click their “support” of a comment.

Commenting on the interactive map ends Friday, Nov. 15 for processing. However, MCDOT will reopen the map at the beginning of 2020 for additional comment.

Most of the comments on the map as of Wednesday afternoon appear west of the Central Avenue alignment, with users commenting the most in Buckeye.

However, Mr. Amos said MCDOT is unable to speculate why one area of the county is more active than another in utilizing the interactive map.

Maricopa County — the fastest growing county in the nation — covers 9,200 square miles, of which MCDOT focuses on over 7,000 square miles of unincorporated area. According to the TSP 2035, MCDOT plans, designs, builds, maintains and operates roadways within the unincorporated areas, of which there are about 2,000 miles of roadway and over 400 structures.

Multiple comments already on the interactive map are giving MCDOT officials plenty to think about.

Out in the East Valley, James Vance noted there is only one lane from westbound 202 to northbound Loop 101.

“Adding an additional lane will alleviate traffic merging onto the 101N and also remove traffic from the Indian Reservation which people use as a backdoor approach to getting on the 101N,” Mr. Vance stated.

Down in the Avondale area, a commenter only named Yesenia said officials should consider adding a roundabout to the intersection of Avondale Boulevard and Lower Buckeye Road, which is less than five miles from ISM Raceway and is a main route out of the racetrack on race days.

“Adding a round-about to this intersection would alleviate traffic during rush,” Yesenia stated. “Traffic would keep flowing smoothly throughout the day.”

Miles to the west, Chris Frye commented that the speed limits on MC 85 between Goodyear and Buckeye need to be more consistent.

“Some of these roads need their speed limits increased as there is only farmland, dual travel lanes in both directions, and well maintained roads,” Mr. Fry stated.

Up in the north Valley, a user named Keith D. says a traffic light at the intersection of the southbound Interstate 17 frontage road and Jomax Road cycles through for eastbound traffic, even though there appears to be no road for eastbound traffic to come from.

While unconfirmed, Keith D. says the delay for existing southbound and westbound-to-southbound traffic may encourage red-light running.

The Study Area for TSP 2040 includes unincorporated Maricopa County, and the Project Influence Area includes the entire Maricopa County area and the fringe — areas adjacent to County limits — that connect to the County network. The primary focus will be on MCDOT facilities within the Study Area. However, some analysis will be conducted for the PIA to determine how MCDOT facilities are impacted by the region.

The TSP 2040 is on a roughly year-and-a-half schedule, with Baseline Conditions set for this fall, followed by an analysis of transportation system needs in Spring 2020. An Implementation Plan is set for Fall 2020, with a Final Report due next winter.

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