Paradise Valley narrows focus as part of Lincoln median improvements

A view of Lincoln Drive, facing east, that is being considered for median improvements. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

A conclusion is becoming more clear regarding the Lincoln Drive median improvements after the Paradise Valley Town Council zeroed in on access to one property along the roadway.

The Town Council discussed five options on a median break for access to the Gordon property, which sits to the west of the Applewood Pet Resort on the south side of Lincoln Drive. The council indicated a route it was comfortable taking at its Thursday, May 23 council meeting.

Ultimately, the majority of the council said it would be comfortable putting a full access point at the Gordon property’s driveway. This would also include a median with a reduced taper and storage lane for westbound cars turning left into the property.

This discussion is part of a larger project of Lincoln Drive median improvements between Mockingbird Lane and the town’s eastern limits. This discussion is ongoing and began in September 2018.

Potential improvements to the median include landscaped medians, a traffic signal at Quail Run Road, sewer line extension, meandering sidewalks, landscaping and drainage structures.

So far, the council has discussed a median break for the pet resort; potential speed reduction; potential shared access points for the Lincoln Medical Plaza and Smoke Tree Resort; and pedestrian safety, among several other points.

The designated area includes several residential homes; the Lincoln Medical Plaza; Smoke Tree Resort; the Ritz-Carlton Paradise Valley community, which is under construction; and the South Lincoln Development, which has potential to become another resort or residential area.

The Gordon property option does incorporate reduced engineering standards, Town Engineer Paul Mood said during his presentation. This option would make the Gordon property’s driveway be 165 feet from the pet resort’s driveway when Mr. Mood said engineering standards encourage 250 feet between driveways.

There are already plans for a left turn lane at the Applewood Pet Resort’s driveway. Owners of the Gordon property also expressed approval of the third option.

The median break now consists of a full access point with no deceleration lanes. Mr. Mood said, per a five-year traffic study, there have been no accidents coming in or out of the Gordon property.

Vice Mayor Scott Moore

After some discussion, Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner, Vice Mayor Scott Moore and councilmembers Paul Dembow, Mark Stanton and Anna Thomasson all said they are comfortable with the third option.

“Based on the information I’ve heard, option three is certainly something that’s suitable and it sounds like it’s been supported by staff as well. I don’t think the (police) chief has any objections that I’ve heard of,” Mr. Moore said. “Taking into consideration that there’s never been an accident in the last five years, I would be comfortable with option No. 3.”

Staff presented five options ranked in order of how each one meets design standards. Option three was the fourth out of five on that ranking as staff also presented an option 1A and 1B.

This point caused councilmembers Ellen Andeen and Julie Pace to voice support for option 1B. Some councilmembers who said they were comfortable with option three also were comfortable with this option.

This option would have required a new driveway 82 feet west of the current one as a left in/right out point with a left turn lane median break there as well. It would also make the current driveway a right out only point with no median break.

This option was not the property owners’ first choice but they had said they would make due with it if the council picked it.

Julie Pace

“I think 1B is a good solution,” Ms. Pace said. “I think it’s what we came up with before. I appreciate the Gordons for being open minded. That’s where I would stick on the safety with the (police) chief and staff because it is the order they are recommending.”

Mr. Bien-Willner reaffirmed that none of the options town staff presented were unsafe. He said engineering standards, as he understood it, aren’t solely based on safety, but a variety of other factors.

He noted that several roads in the town are more narrow than what an engineering standard may lay out. He also said, which Mr. Mood confirmed, less standards doesn’t always mean less safety.

“I want to be crystal clear that from our staff’s perspective, this isn’t unsafe for option three,” Mr. Bien-Willner said.

Other concerns included Mr. Stanton hoping for a slower speed on Lincoln Drive and others fearing the hypothetical situation of the Gordon property undergoing a change in use.

The council viewed this median break as a single-user situation. If a special-use permit were to come before council, it would likely include stipulations to change the median.

Mr. Bien-Willner also suggested the town ask for a waiver to which the Gordon property owners would sign absolving the town of any liability from potential collisions at the median break. Town Attorney Andrew Miller said he would discuss this with the owners.

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