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Guest Commentary

Janik: Road diets — to be or not to be


On March 21, City Council approved lane reductions (road diets) for 68th Street from Osborn north to Indian School. This continues to spark controversy.

Over 30 individuals spoke at the meeting representing both sides. I have received hundreds of emails with about 85% in opposition to lane reductions. I also spoke to several icons of Scottsdale who believe the citizens are overwhelming opposed to narrowing roads.

I, along with Barry Graham and Kathy Littlefield, voted against this project. I believe we represent the voice of the people.

The notification process was flawed. While over 5,000 post cards were mailed, most impacted businesses were not included. Addresses are culled from the property tax database; thus, the landlords received the notifications, not the impacted business owners or numerous apartment dwellers. This process continues to be a problem for city staff and needs to be corrected.

Claims were made by staff and council members that the project would not hurt the businesses. Yet, the 23 impacted business owners (who were not contacted by the city), signed a petition in opposition to the project. Claims were made that members of the Southwest Village HOA were strongly in favor of the project and yet I have received emails indicating this is not accurate.

There is a chorus of nearby residents who were unaware of the project.

Was any consideration given to projected growth and density in the area? Were other designs for the project considered? Was there input from police, fire, and hospital staff? Was consideration given to the increase in traffic on Scottsdale Road and 64th Street? Were residents in these areas even consulted?

Was the existing trail four blocks to the west considered for the bicycle traffic? It seems the lure of available federal funds was more operative in this decision than citizen opinion. For more information on future road narrowing projects, go to https://www.scottsdaleaz.gov/transportation/transportation-action-plan and look under Street Element, Bikeway Element, and Implementation.

Yes 68th Street needs improvements. Street slurry resurfacing funds were already budgeted prior to March 21, but held pending the road diet vote. Yes, sidewalks need to be ADA compliant. There is a city of Scottsdale fund to accomplish this. But note, the sidewalks will not be widened, this was never part of the plan.

Finally, 68th Street does need Rapid Flashing Beacons at pedestrian street crossings. Perhaps the $180,000 (originally estimated at $89,819) of city transportation department matching funds should be allocated for the true needs of 68th Street.

Proponents say road diets can be reversed if they fail. Currently there is no mechanism to determine what constitutes failure, how to reverse the failed experiment, or even who will decide — another example of a hastily drawn up bitter pill for the citizens.

I want to solve this problem. As with Prop 420, I trust the collective wisdom of the citizens. Road diets, to be or not to be, let the citizens decide.

Put road diets to a citizen vote in 2024! Until then, let’s put road diets on hold.