A months-long traffic bottleneck for drivers on the way to northern Scottsdale destinations is about to be fixed. Pima Road north of the Pima Freeway section of Loop 101 has been bogged down with construction since March, becoming a headache for some residents and businesses in the area.
The final construction push began over the weekend, with the city closing Pima Road from the freeway exit north to Hualapai Drive.
The segment will be closed again this weekend, but the major work will likely be complete by Nov. 20, said Alex McLaren, Scottsdale design and construction director.
The closures are one of the last steps in the city’s project to widen and realign Pima north of Loop 101.
When finished, the new section will connect Pima north of Hualapai, where the roadway is six lanes. The work will also smooth a sharp curve that takes traffic off the freeway.
McLaren said the city tried to minimize impact of the construction in that area by stopping work and removing barricades during rush hours.
General construction began in March and heavy work started at the end of July.
After the weekend closure, two lanes in each direction should be open at all times. The third lane of traffic may be closed periodically for landscaping and roadwork at major intersections through mid-January.
Area residents, commuters and businesses are looking forward to having Pima back.
“It’s just a hindrance,” said Celeste Biegen, owner of The Barkery Etc. in the Market Street shopping center in DC Ranch. “It amazes me they didn’t think about shopping and access when they started this, especially with only one road in (from Pima).”
Store sales are about 10 percent lower than what they should be, Biegen added.
“Why they didn’t do it during the summer is beyond me,” she said. “Now the weather is nice and everyone is out here shopping.”
But Alanna Miller, manager of The Treasure Chest Boutique in the same center, said customer traffic in the store hasn’t suffered because of the construction.
“I have not had one person comment about it,” she said.
Miller said the construction has added about five to 10 minutes to her commute, which is not a big deal, she adds. “I mean, it is a pain but it is not that bad.”
Laura Kent, a Silverleaf resident, took a similarly pragmatic approach. “You just have to plan ahead,” she said. “I’ve been using an alternate route.”
Kent and her friend, Beth Roberts, a Kierland resident, visited Market Street on Friday for lunch.
Roberts said she doesn’t think the situation is deterring residents from visiting. “If (customers) want to shop, they will.”
“It’s pretty lively here at nighttime,” Kent added.
But morning traffic has been a problem, she said. Kent has children attending nearby Copper Ridge School, and buses have been late in the mornings because of the construction, she said.
“If I lived here I’d go cuckoo,” said Ken Creta, an investment adviser at Wachovia Securities. Creta commutes to Scottsdale from Fountain Hills, and since he works on New York Stock Exchange time, he catches Pima Road’s morning rush hour between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. But the traffic has only added about 10 minutes to his trip, so it doesn’t bother him too much, he said.
While she initially thought the project was a good idea because it would make it safer for drivers getting off Loop 101. Biegen said she’s frustrated with how long the work has taken.
“We pay such high taxes out here,” she said. “The city should pay vendors and boutiques some of those taxes back.”