Neighbors: Traffic circle should be a monument to the neighborhood - Ahwatukee Foothills News: News

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Neighbors: Traffic circle should be a monument to the neighborhood

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Posted: Wednesday, October 6, 2010 8:00 am

Some residents of Ahwatukee Foothills' Equestrian Estates say they are unimpressed with the examples of other area traffic circles proffered by Phoenix transportation officials as models for the one proposed in their neighborhood.

About 30 people turned out for a public meeting Wednesday night at Kyrene de las Lomas Elementary School to discuss plans for a permanent roundabout at Equestrian Trail and Appaloosa Drive.

"They're a little plain," area resident Doreen Myles said of the photos of several existing traffic circles scattered throughout the Valley, which city officials held out as examples. "Hopefully the design will be something that's aesthetically pleasing."

The project could cost up to $350,000, with the money coming from a transportation bond approved by a citywide vote in 2006, said Kerry Wilcoxon, Street Transportation Department spokesman.

Resident Diane McGowan said that with the amount of money available, the city could create something with a sense of place.

"This is the perfect time to rebrand the neighborhood, to create an identity, an entrance to our community," McGowan said. "For $350,000, I could build a house, for God's sake."

The permanent circle would replace a temporary traffic circle that has been in place for about a year, after neighbors petitioned the city to install it because of problems with speeders.

Gerry Kramer, who lives about a block from the intersection, said speeding had been an ongoing problem before the temporary roundabout went in.

"I'm on my third mailbox," he said.

Wilcoxon said that since the temporary roundabout was installed in July 2009, speeding has dropped significantly, from 21.7 percent of vehicles observed by city staff to only 1.7 percent.

The proposal has been somewhat controversial. Last month, a five-member city transportation appeals board - consisting of representatives from several city departments, including Neighborhood Services, planning and the fire department - voted unanimously to reject an appeal filed by several neighbors against making the roundabout permanent.

"This project has probably taken up more of my time than probably any other traffic circle I've worked on," Wilcoxon said. "A lot of people had fears; a lot of people had strong opinions."

The designs for the permanent circle likely will be complete by February, with construction starting in the spring or summer of 2011, he said. Despite having $350,000 to work with, the last two roundabouts he has worked on each ended up costing about $200,000, he said.

"I'm trying to get this built as quickly as possible," Wilcoxon said.

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