Transportation
Pictured is a rendering of Cave Creek Road from the Maricopa Association of Governments. The area is part of a transportation study.
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Cave Creek, Carefree transportation recommendations presented

Tara Alatorre~ 9/17/2014

CAREFREE – The Maricopa Association of Governments shared recommendations for its ongoing transportation framework study for the towns of Carefree and Cave Creek with residents at a public meeting on Sept. 10, identifying that both towns want “complete streets” to provide safer multi-modal transportation on roadways.

The recommendations were presented at a public meeting in Carefree and were based on technical analysis of public feedback and responses from an online survey conducted last April. The priorities identified included creating bike lanes, sidewalks, crosswalks, parking, and equestrian trails along roadways with landscape buffers for a “complete street,” increasing pedestrian connectivity to town centers and improving traffic for special events.

MAG identified five activity “nodes” between both towns, which are locations with increased pedestrian and vehicle traffic in areas with high-activity concentrations, as well as “corridors,” the roads that connect to the identified nodes.  MAG recommended reducing the lanes in each of the nodes to one lane in each direction with a bike lane and sidewalk added that include landscape buffers, with the exception of “Gateway District,” which is located at Carefree Highway and Cave Creek Road.  It would retain two lanes in each direction.

Carefree’s activity nodes would include on-street parallel parking to increase parking in the town for special events, but Cave Creek’s node would not include on-street parking.

Although there was pushback from some residents and council members from both towns about reducing the lanes in the activity nodes at the meeting, survey results showed that this option was the preferred road configuration of community members. The traffic in the areas is less than 20,000 cars a day, which, according to national standards, is more than sufficient for one lane of traffic each way.

“Bringing it down to a single lane in any place seems ludicrous,” said a Carefree resident during last Wednesday’s meeting.

However, based on survey results, residents from both towns preferred this option over others presented last April, with 48 percent of community members choosing the node configuration presented on Wednesday.

“I don’t want frustration levels to increase,” said Carefree Councilman Mike Farrar, who was concerned that reducing lanes in the activity nodes would significantly increase traffic for both towns.

Public transit was also addressed in the study as an option to reduce traffic and parking needs; however, residents did not see transit as a high priority for its communities. MAG suggested that the towns continue to improve existing services, focusing on services for seniors and people with disabilities.

MAG is also recommending that the identified corridors add bike lanes, sidewalks, and multi-use paths, with landscaped medians and buffers between them, retaining two lanes of traffic in each direction with the exception of Carefree, which would have one lane of traffic in each direction and no road medians or paths.  Well over half of the residents surveyed in April preferred these configurations for the identified corridors.

Jason Harrington, owner of HP+D, a local landscape architecture firm that has been involved in the transportation study, said the planned bike lanes will break ground in early 2016. Maintaining the natural desert appearance is a very high priority with residents.

“It develops a sense of place,” said Harrington.

The next steps for both towns will include completing the study by developing long-term and short-term recommendations to create an action plan and a final report so the towns and MAG can seek funding for the completed plan.  There will be ongoing public involvement as the study develops with more public meetings, workshops, and surveys being conducted.

The public comment period is still open and can be accessed online at www.cavecreekcarefree.azmag.gov  or by contacting project manager Eileen Yazzie at (602) 254-6300.