Why is the fine so big?

The construction of more than 1,000 houses on the State Trust Land parcel in Ahwatukee will bring more than a few traffic problems, but homeowners in Foothills Reserve and Club West already face their share of roadway hazards in the form of speeding motorists.

“Over the past few months the stretch from 17th Avenue to the new developed end of Chandler Boulevard has turned into a German Autobahn,” a Club West resident who lives near the boulevard and 17th Avenue told AFN.

“Drag racing, cars doing donuts at 2 a.m. and people speeding by going well over 100 m.p.h.,” he complained. “There is no law enforcement back there, period. We have complained to the city numerous times but nothing has been done.”

Indeed, when the Foothills Club West Association held its annual meeting for homeowners last March 4, a Phoenix police officer had been expected to update residents on what was being done about the problem.

No one showed.

Foothills Reserve President Galen Schliem said some residents have sought speed bumps, though the city will not install them on four-lane arterials.

“It’s an issue,” he said. “I also am not a fan of all the burn-out marks the racers leave.  What kind of impression do potential residents, or current residents, get when driving into our community?”

The Club West resident said that on Feb. 13, a car t-boned another and it took police 25 minutes to respond. 

“The officer stated, ‘I am the only one in the area.’ Something needs to be done before someone is killed,” the resident said.

An exponential increase in traffic down 17th Avenue can be expected once houses start to go up on the State Trust Land, Club West HOA Board President Michael Hinz said at the community’s annual meeting.

He said the size of the parcel “brings an awful lot of traffic into the community,” and advised all of it “is going to come from 17th Avenue and Chandler Boulevard.

“So I’m extremely concerned about that and I know some of you, especially those of you who live west of 17th, got to be concerned about it as well,” Hinz remarked.

Hinz urged residents to contact Ahwatukee Councilman Sal DiCiccio so that “hopefully we can get some more interaction and police engagement on what we expect. We’ve got some time before anything happens.”

But while existing homeowners may have some time to pressure city officials on the surge in volume on the roads that almost certainly will be generated by the State Land development, Hinz indicated a sense of urgency about the speeding motorists.

“We have to figure out a way to get people to slow down as they turn that corner, especially when they’re entering 17th Avenue from Chandler Boulevard,” Hinz said. “It’s a little dicey.” 

“The city will not install a stop sign or a traffic signal unless or until their traffic study indicates that it’s necessary,” Hinz told homeowners, adding: 

“I prevail on everybody that lives in that area to please communicate to the city at every opportunity – The traffic is overwhelming you or that it’s loud, whether there’s a lot of traffic moving very quickly.’ I know that sounds like we’re being testy about it, but the squeaky wheel gets the grease with the City of Phoenix.”

Residents apparently have been using their grease guns for a while.

“What we’ve seen is a lot of residents from the area with concerns about speeding,” Phoenix Street Transportation Department spokeswoman Heather Murphy told AFN.

“We’ve shared with a couple of people in the community who emailed staff in our department the names of their (Phoenix Police) community action officer, but we’ve also talked about what kinds of things we might be able to do,” Murphy said.

Murphy and Hinz both said some people have suggested a crosswalk across Chandler Boulevard at 17th or 19th Avenue or both.

But Murphy said, “When we did a preliminary evaluation about the number of people that cross there, it didn’t really seem like there were a lot of pedestrians crossing.

Besides, she added, “a pedestrian crossing really wouldn’t do anything about speeding.”

Murphy said her department “will be looking at weekend traffic and weekday traffic” as officials discuss options at 17th and Chandler – which might include a three-way stop sign, signals or a HAWK signal, which stops traffic only when someone wants to cross.

According to traffic planners for the Maricopa Association of Governments, that intersection’s hazards aren’t anywhere near as serious as others in the county.

Their annual list of the 100 most dangerous intersections in Maricopa County, released earlier this year, contains none in Ahwatukee.

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