Gallagher: An attempt to understand the Doubletree conjecture in Paradise Valley

How did the east Doubletree improvement project come off the rails and why?

Ronald Gallagher

To understand what has happened and why you need to start from the beginning as most don’t understand why this CIP is not being approved by the council.

So, all is clear this CIP is intended to make the section of Doubletree from 64th Street to Scottsdale Road like the western portion of the road.

What follows is written from the perspective of residents in the affected area:

  • We believe that it important for you to understand the status for the Doubletree to 64th Street Improvement Project.
  • Like most of you, it would have been assumed that this project was going to be started in January of 2019, as reported in the paper. However, this is no longer the case and it may not get done at all.

First, let’s state why this is important to those that live on and around this section of Doubletree:

  • First, there is a speed and safety problem. As best we can tell there are around 4,000 cars per day that use this road. Some only to transition thru PV. Over 34% exceed the speed limit by 5 MPH and 15 percent by 10 MPH. We have been passed numerous times on the left while going the posted speed.
  • Second, there is drainage problem.
  • Third, the existing sidewalks have buckled in at least 2 places
  • And finally, the proposed project is consistent with the overall town’s efforts to enhance the beauty of PV and probably the value of homes along the road.

Most important is the speeding and safety issue that would be mitigated by the plans meandering design that has been used on the rest of Doubletree.

Second, how did we get to this point given these facts?

  • The town’s 2018-19 budget includes this project as one of the Capital Improvement Projects and it is fully funded;
  • And, the Council approved the budget by a 7-0 vote;
  • In fact all engineering work and studies are complete and it only lacks a contractor to begin work;
  • This project has been reported in the paper to begin in September and then delayed to January.

So why the change of heart?

It appears that the council’s reaction to a small vocal group of home owners on Doubletree has reversed the decision to proceed.

This is most troubling because the council’s concern should be for the greater good of all residents in the affected area and the town in general.

• We fully understand the home owners concerns that live on Doubletree;

• But anyone who builds or buys on a major artery must understand that infrastructure projects can affect the right-of-way along the existing road.

• As for this right-of-way, the town has every right to use it as deemed necessary for infrastructure projects. And, you should remember that the town will cover all costs of disruption on your property, such as mailbox relocation.

Input from most of us, including homes that are in the affected area are in full support of this capital improvement project. Any reasonable survey of the residents would show this. So, to have the council decide that only improvement to the entrance of Scottsdale Road be considered is befuddling, at best.

Several council members seem to be concerned about the following:

I. Negative reaction to a small number of people who voiced objection (without surveying the residents in the affected area who also have a stake in this project).

II. The useful life of the road quoted as from 7-10 years.

III. Desire to divert the funds to other CIP projects.

Also in the Plan is the same improvement for the section of Mockingbird above Hummingbird. In fact it is almost ready to start and we suggest that it:

  • Has the same useful life as Doubletree
  • Has a lower traffic volume
  • Most likely doesn’t have the excess speed problem that Doubletree experiences
  • And is funded at about the same level ($2.7 vs. $3.0 million)

So why Mockingbird and not Doubletree?

There is input about this project which we feel is misleading:

  1. Traffic volume on the road will not increase and in fact we suspect it will decrease as traffic flowing thru Paradise Valley will seek alternate routes.
  2. This will not decrease safety, but instead improve safety as speeds on this section of the road will decrease.
  3. No one knows the useful life of a road, but does this matter at all in regards to the safety issues in play?
  4. We know that some object to the Round at Doubletree and 64Th Street as defined in the design plan. Rounds speed traffic flow as studies in the U.K. and U.S. have shown.

Why do you think Scottsdale is installing them in major intersections? Including or excluding the round at 64th Street should have little bearing on the broader Improvement Project.

The council’s move to just do the entrance and nothing more is unacceptable and it alone addresses none of the concerns that we have.

The council should explain why a decision to do Mockingbird has priority of the Doubletree CIP. If these Doubletree funds are not used what will happen to them? The town is in a unique position now as it has excess funds from the building going on in the town, especially from the Ritz-Carton project. This will not be the case in the future.

So why not now? Chances are if this is not done now, it won’t get done for years.

Editor’s note: Mr. Gallagher is a resident of the Town of Paradise Valley

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