May 6, 2005
Queen Creek officials don’t want to wait two years or more for major road improvements to relieve congestion at three busy downtown intersections.
The town has proposed spending an estimated $350,000 for temporary traffic signals at Ellsworth and Queen Creek roads, Ellsworth and Rittenhouse Road, and Rittenhouse and Ocotillo Road, because permanent road improvements aren’t scheduled to happen until fall 2007. The temporary signals would be up and running by this fall.
"We have gotten some complaints from citizens" about traffic backups at the three locations, Queen Creek public works director Dick Schaner said, and a recent congestion study conducted by the town found wait times of up to seven minutes during peak hours.
Still, there are factors preventing the installation of permanent traffic signals, Schaner said.
The Ellsworth and Queen Creek crossing is in "a state of limbo," he said, because the path of a planned loop road that would pass through the intersection has yet to be determined.
At Ellsworth and Rittenhouse, the intersection is expected to be widened to six lanes as part of a proposed improvement district encompassing future Vestar and Westcor shopping centers, Schaner said.
The intersection of Ocotillo and Rittenhouse is scheduled to be shifted a quarter-mile to the west, also as part of the improvement district, he said, so putting in a permanent signal doesn’t make sense.
Schaner said the Maricopa County Department of Transportation has agreed to conduct preliminary studies on the intersections and split the installation cost.
Although much of the traffic creating the glut is coming from neighboring communities in Pinal County, Schaner said there isn’t likely to be a contribution from that county. "They have their own transportation problems — their funding is relatively low," he said.
Queen Creek is budgeting about $3.5 million in road improvements for the coming fiscal year, Schaner said.