To reach the future Gilbert mall from her home, Delann Denham will need to turn right onto Ray Road, right on Val Vista Drive, left on Williams Field Road and left again on Greenfield Road.
"Or take my chances and run across the street," Denham said.
Denham is one of about 40 Maricopa County island homeowners who will see left-turn access in and out of their neighborhood drastically affected by Gilbert’s Ray Road widening project.
The group is lobbying town officials to revise its median construction plans on Ray between Val Vista and Greenfield to allow complete access to the three county island streets.
Gilbert traffic engineer Bruce Ward said the town has changed its plan so motorists on Ray will be able to make left turns into one of the three streets and provide a second left turn lane farther east to allow U-turns before reaching Greenfield. But residents on the three side streets won’t be able to turn left onto Ray.
The affected homeowners live on Jarman Boulevard, 155th Street and 156th Place — unpaved streets lined with horse properties.
Resident Brenda Smith said the town should either use a cobblestone median, provide three median breaks or build a small gravel frontage road to a nearby Gilbert street that will have left-turn access. She said this is crucial for the homeowners and fire and police vehicles. Ward said these options have been discussed but at this point do not seem feasible.
Karen Espinoza has lived for 24 years in the area that will one day be about a halfmile from a regional mall and freeway.
"People here are not fighting development; we would just like to have access to our property," Espinoza said.
Many neighborhood residents said they are being treated differently because they live in a county island, citing Gilbert Mayor Steve Berman’s negative opinion of county islands.
Berman said the town’s position is not "the mayor’s revenge." But he reiterated that county island residents don’t pay city taxes but drive on Gilbert roads and use Gilbert parks.