Chaparral Road’s squeeze must end - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Chaparral Road’s squeeze must end

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Posted: Wednesday, March 28, 2007 6:39 am | Updated: 7:53 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Thorny would be an inadequate term for the political thicket that is the plight of residents along Chaparral Road roughly between Miller and Hayden roads.

For years, no, decades, these Scottsdale residents have been fighting a losing battle with growth.

The fault is not theirs. They could not stop the long-planned construction of Loop 101, or the expansion of Scottsdale Fashion Square of the late 1980s and early 1990s, or the approaching arrival of thousands of new downtown condo dwellers in this decade.

But all of those events have produced traffic nightmares along the twolane Chaparral through this age-restricted Villa Monterey neighborhood. At first, commuter traffic often exceeded the 30 mph speed limit (which had been lowered by the city from 35 mph). Now, neighbors also have to cope with too much traffic, a frequent parade of vehicles traveling between the freeway and the northern part of downtown.

The situation is untenable and cannot remain the same. But the choices facing city officials are not pleasant ones, which, in part, is why the situation has been disappointingly unresolved for so long.

The City Council is awaiting a consultant’s citywide transportation study, which includes the well-known question of whether light rail should be built in Scottsdale, but also is to address other transportation issues including surface-street traffic.

Yet council members already know the options they must consider regarding Chaparral Road:

• Buy and raze several residences along Chaparral and widen the street to handle its large traffic flow. The city did something similar in the 1990s with homes on the south side of McDonald Drive.

• Close off Chaparral to force westbound traffic to turn north to McDonald or south to Camelback Road.

Closing the Chaparral exit on Loop 101 and building a new one at Camelback is not an option for reasons related to expense, design and safety. State highway officials have shown no interest, and they control the freeway.

Whatever the city does, it must follow through completely. If the decision is to widen Chaparral, then to offer residents anything less than ample market values for their properties plus a generous moving allowance would be politically unwise and ethically indefensible, to say the least.

If Chaparral is to be converted into a local-only street, then a comprehensive plan must be put in place to make sure that Indian School Road along with Camelback and McDonald are up to the task of handling diverted traffic.

In any case, city officials have let this problem fester too long. Chaparral has been designated on city maps for widening since 1991, the Tribune’s Brian Powell has reported, so the issue is not one of catching unaware residents by surprise. It is one of fairness, however, and fairness is not being achieved at all with each day that passes without resolution.

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