Phoenix officials are hoping to widen the west side of 48th Street between Baseline Road and South Pointe Parkway next year.
Although it has two lanes, the west side of the street has long been considered too narrow and the Street Transportation Department is currently negotiating with a contractor on the project and with local businesses to secure necessary easements along the thoroughfare to execute the project.
Because of those latter negotiations, the city has no definitive timetable yet for the project but it hopes to start next spring.
Utility relocations could begin as early as November or December.
City spokeswoman Heather Murphy said the improvements would include sidewalks complaint with Americans for Disabilities Act standards, a bike lane, pavement repairs and drainage.
The project also would involve new signals at Baseline and 48th that would have the latest technology and new left-turn signaling in all four directions.
Murphy said recent traffic studies have shown that traffic volume on 48th has increased in the past couple years.
“There’s still a lot of planning and design left to go,” she said, noting that relocating utility lines along the route involves considerable work.
Pointe South Mountain resident Ed Wolf had approached Mayor Kate Gallego during her appearance in Ahwatukee several weeks ago to raise concerns about safety and traffic on 48th, particularly where it narrows to one lane at a roundabout near South Pointe Parkway.
While the widening project will not impact the area where there are only two lanes, he did get some good news from the mayor’s office: The intersection at 48th and Guadalupe will be added to the HAWK evaluation list.
The HAWK, or High Intensity Activated CrossWalK, beacon signal helps make it easier and safer for people to cross busy streets without impeding traffic, particularly in mid-block.
HAWK signals can be installed on streets with regular traffic signals as part of the city’s coordinated signal system.
The city annually reviews intersections for new traffic signals.
The cutoff for new requests is next March 1, and intersections are evaluated in summer and selected for installation in fall.
“Our current funding levels allow for three to four new traffic signals per year,” a Street Department spokeswoman told Wolf in an email he shared with AFN.
“Intersections for which traffic signals are considered must satisfy the requirements of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, a federal standard adopted for use within the State of Arizona. Factors that are considered are traffic volumes, crash history, vehicle speeds and distances to adjacent signals.”
The HAWK resembles the flashing red lights at railway crossings and consists of a yellow-red-flashing red signal format for motorists.
Unlike traffic signals, the HAWK only operates when a pedestrian pushes a button. Vehicles are free to move when no one is crossing the street.
Ahwatukee has two HAWK signals, one of Desert Foothills Parkway north of Chandler Boulevard and the other on 32nd Street near Desert Vista High School.
The city has been installing those signals since its approval by the Federal Highway Administration in 2007. There are about four dozen across Phoenix.