Decision on 2 controversial AF traffic circles expected soon - Ahwatukee Foothills News: News

Decision on 2 controversial AF traffic circles expected soon

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Posted: Tuesday, July 13, 2010 11:00 am | Updated: 2:43 pm, Tue Feb 1, 2011.

The fate of two traffic circles that have proved divisive for an Ahwatukee Foothills neighborhood for more than a year could be decided in the next week.

Phoenix could spend up to $350,000 to make permanent the roundabout at East Equestrian Trail and South Appaloosa Drive, said Kerry Wilcoxon, a spokesman for the city's Street Transportation Department. However, the temporary roundabout now in place at South 36th and East Coconino streets is expected to be removed, he said.

Temporary traffic circles remain in place, for now, at the two intersections. Neighborhood residents had petitioned Phoenix to install them because of problems with speeders, Wilcoxon said.

Last November, the city conducted a public meeting to discuss the results.

"Both circles lowered the average speed and the percentage of speeders," Wilcoxon said.

But Roger Dickinson, who lives within a few houses of the Equestrian/Appaloosa roundabout, disputes that assertion.

"People are going to continue to speed up and slam on their brakes to slow down for the roundabout," he said.

The roundabouts also have proven dangerous, he said, because some drivers don't use them properly or follow the signs. Besides, Phoenix could use the money more wisely elsewhere, where it's needed, he said.

"I was against it. I'm still against it," Dickinson said. "I don't see the benefit of spending $350,000 for something that has a minimal impact on the neighborhood."

Wilcoxon said the money would come from a transportation bond issue approved by a city-wide vote in 2006.

Other neighbors, such as Edmund Pongratz, who also lives near the Equestrian/Appaloosa intersection, support a permanent roundabout there. Speeders have made it unsafe for neighborhood children, including his own two young ones, to play in the front yard, he said.

"People pass one another in front of my house. You're supposed to be going 25 mph," Pongratz said. "Moms and dads don't want their kids out there because it's too dangerous."

He said he expects that the permanent roundabout will be landscaped nicely and will be an asset to the neighborhood.

"There's no reason to be upset about it. They're going to be beautiful," Pongratz said.

Wilcoxon said supporters of the Equestrian/Appaloosa roundabout barely managed to reach the threshold of 61 signatures needed from neighborhood residents to push through the permanent traffic circle.

Meanwhile, support for the one at 36th and Coconino streets fizzled out, he said. With no petition having been filed to make it permanent, the temporary roundabout there likely will be removed. The cost of installing the temporary traffic circles was minimal, he said.

"It's done with our sign crews on a normal work basis," Wilcoxon said.

Two appeals have been filed by unhappy residents: one challenging the city's approval of the permanent roundabout at Equestrian/Appaloosa, and the other attempting to overturn the decision to remove the temporary roundabout at 36th and Coconino streets, he said.

Wilcoxon said it's his opinion that neither appeal will be successful.

"We set procedures up for the neighbors, and they followed those procedures," he said.

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