Residents voiced their concerns Monday evening during a meeting announcing the construction of a permanent traffic circle at Equestrian Trail and Appaloosa.
Construction on the new traffic circle began on June 29 and is expected to continue until Aug. 5. The intersection will be closed during that time.
The project calls for a raised center island with a planter and a tree. A bicycle bypass will allow bicyclists to enter the circle and pedestrian walkways near the intersection, but not in it, will make it safer for pedestrians to cross.
Lanes inside the circle will also be narrowed to offer more safety for pedestrians.
It is expected to cost around $300,000 for construction of the circle and management of the project.
Residents at the meeting raised concerns over horses, pedestrians and overall safety. Some worry that the tree in the center island may decrease visibility.
To deal with these concerns Kerry Wilcoxon, traffic engineer of Phoenix's Street Transportation Department, Safety and Neighborhood Traffic Section, could only site information he has gathered from similar traffic circles.
"In most of our traffic circles we've had trees," Wilcoxon said. "Most of the time people are afraid of a visual problem for traffic but it doesn't create a problem there."
Wilcoxon assured residents that the city was trying to work with them to make the street safer. He believes this traffic circle will help.
"The intersection was safe before," Wilcoxon said. "There were no measures where by we say the intersection was not safe. There were no design flaws or crash patterns. The intersection is safe today with the temporary. We believe the intersection will be just as safe, probably more so after the permanent one is in place. I'm not talking about you feeling safe, I'm talking about measurements that we use to determine if it's safe."
Residents also asked Wilcoxon about added signage, which is still being looked in to, and the possibility of speed enforcement during construction. Wilcoxon said radar speed trailers or extra patrol may be an option if other streets begin to see more traffic during construction.
A test period of 90 days will take place after the circle is built to make sure it is helping. Modifications can be made after that time.
The project began in 2008 when residents requested traffic calming in the area, according to Wilcoxon.
Because Equestrian Trail is classified as a "collector" street it didn't qualify for speed bumps but it did qualify for traffic mitigation.
The Collector Street Mitigation Program through the city is a resident driven program to install devices intended to slow speeding. Residents in the area petitioned for a temporary circle that has been in place since July 2009.
Over that time Wilcoxon says speed was reduced from an average of 31 mph to 26 mph and the number of vehicles per day decreased from 5,558 to 5,261 after the circle was put in.
A permanent installation petition was passed around and all the required signatures were received to move forward with the project.
Though there were many concerns at the meeting there were also some comments in support of the new design.
Barbara Deutscher says she used to never go near the intersection but that the new circle has helped.
"I think it's wonderful," Deutscher said. "I go through there with a horse on either side. I use to not even go to that intersection, I always avoided it. Now, everyone is just watching and people stop. It's amazing. You have to think when you go through it, which is good."
Wilcoxon encouraged any residents with questions or concerns to contact him directly at (602) 262-4613 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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