Updates on Tempe’s Capital Improvement Projects

With all of the budgetary problems faced by cities and the state of Arizona, it’s often easy to lose track of good things that are still happening. As you may know, members of TBAG sit in on Tempe’s Multi-Modal Transportation Planning and Project Review Committee, where we learn about the Capital Improvement Projects happening in Tempe. These projects tend to take a long time to go from initial ideas to construction (years!), but they represent Tempe’s long-term investment in bicycling infrastructure. They also tend to receive a lot of federal funding, including funds from the Economic Stimulus Bill, so they have not been as severely impacted by budgetary cuts as a lot of the city’s operations. Stay tuned for news about the budget cut impacts, as they are going to have a huge effect on public transit in Tempe, and direct public involvement will be valuable for what the changes will look like.

To give you an idea of what’s going on behind-the-scenes, here’s a brief summary list of some of the current projects, and what’s going on with them:

1. College Ave. Streetscape: this project is getting close to construction. There were some design challenges that cropped up not too long ago, that mean more construction than originally intended, but you can expect to see construction beginning sometime around June.
2. Broadway Road Streetscape: This project was initially going to involve renovation of the section of Broadway Road between Mill and Rural, to decrease the number of vehicular traffic lanes so the road would have 4 car lanes (2 in either direction), a center turn lane, and a bike lanes. Then the idea of expanding the streetscape all the way to Priest came up, and further studies have indicated that the expansion is feasible and will happen. We don’t have exact dates yet, but you can spread the word: Broadway is getting bike lanes.
3. Western Canal: This one’s really exciting, and perhaps you’ve already been riding along the freshly constructed portions of the Western Canal. Tempe is just about ready to officially open the newly paved canal, which features some really cool covered pathways that provide protection from nearby golf courses, and which will feature two HAWK crossings. Here’s some more information about the crossings from Tempe In Motion. TBAG is really excited about this canal development, and will be organizing some rides to check it out in the upcoming months. You will notice, if you ride this canal, that there’s currently no way to get across I-10 on the western edge, or across the 101 on the eastern edge. If we want to be able to cross the freeways, we are going to have to speak up about that.
4. Crosscut Canal: Not a lot of people actually know where this canal runs, but it’s a canal that runs north-south through Papago Park. The north end of the canal is currently paved, and connects up to the Arizona Canal. The second phase of this project will involve paving the southern stretch so the canal will link up to the Mill Avenue/Washington intersection. That’s right, a connection that runs northeast across the park, taking you from downtown Tempe almost all the way to downtown Scottsdale. You can check out maps of the project, and provide feedback/support, here. Currently, the details for the bridge crossings are getting straightened out, and so soon you should start to see construction happening.
5. Tempe Town Lake Bike/Ped Bridge: Rio Salado Operations is overseeing the construction of a bicycle and pedestrian bridge that will run across the western dam of Tempe Town Lake. We got to check out some of the artist concept drawings (pretty!), and it sounds like this project is going to move ahead in the next couple of months as well.

Tempe has also assembled a map of all of the projects in progress. Check it out!