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Facts Will Be Checked.
Your Voice Will Be Heard.

Alexander: 68th Street improvements serve Scottsdale better by thoughtful approach at City Hall

Photo of Jason Alexander who is speaking out against recent opinions on the 68th Street improvements along 68th Street
Jason Alexander, who is speaking out regarding what he believes was prudent efforts at City Hall leading up to adopted improvements set to unfold along 68th Street. (File Photos/DigitalFreePress.com)
By Jason Alexander | Point of View

Last week, city of Scottsdale’s Director of Public Works Dan Worth sent a detailed email to City Council dispelling the conspiracies and misinformation seen in Susan Wood’s recent Point of View critiquing the 68th Street improvement.

Mr. Worth’s key point is quoted below:

“We will evaluate before we make a final decision. If lane reduction doesn’t make sense we won’t do it, as was the case for McDowell Mountain Ranch Road and Hayden Road. To add a little context: We have 1,061 lane miles of roads classified as arterials or collectors. If we do all of the lane reductions in the list above, we will remove less than 30 of these 1061 lane miles, about 2.8%. At the same time, we plan to be adding at least 60 lane miles of collectors and arterials.”

When I shared Mr. Worth’s email with Ms. Wood, she didn’t understand that projects would be re-evaluated by staff. She had not spoken with Mr. Worth or the city manager to understand the process. She did not seem to know that each project would come before council for funding approval, giving voters a chance for case-by-case feedback.

In her Point of View, Ms. Wood carefully avoids that only 30 miles will possibly be affected. Ms. Wood’s opinion piece is fueled by misinformation.

Ms. Wood and her political group have spent three months lobbying City Council to oppose the 68th Street improvement. They have produced videos scaring residents that the entire city will be undrivable, saying, “If we don’t act now to stop these crazy projects our city streets will be gridlocked.”

The facts are the 68th Street improvement was strongly supported by the immediate neighborhood, outreach had been ongoing for four years, four of the existing five miles of 68th were already one lane in each direction, and over 80% of the project will be paid with federal funds.

The city was already planning to reseal and add ADA compliance to this stretch of road, and by using the federal funds our council saved the Scottsdale taxpayers nearly $500,000.

Ms. Wood claims there is an agenda “intended to make driving so miserable” that people beg for light rail. A recent article in Business Insider explains how this has become a far-right dog whistle stoking fear about woke government. Listening to City Councilmembers Kathy Littlefield and Barry Graham on this topic, we must lament that partisan extremism has come to our City Council. Public safety is neither right nor left. This one-mile stretch of 68th Street saw a disproportionate number of accidents, as reported by the Traffic Department.

Mr. Worth concludes his email listing multiple examples of Scottsdale successfully reducing lanes. As he says: “One of the first projects I was involved in after I got here 19 years ago to be the City Engineer included reducing about a mile of 96th St from 4 lanes to 2 lanes.” This road borders the million-dollar homes of many who wrote in opposition to the 68th Street improvement nearly 15 miles to the south. The opponents are saying that safe streets and ADA accessibility are only important in north Scottsdale.

Strategic lane reductions to improve safety and quality of life are good ideas, that must be evaluated one by one. The decisions should be made based on accident data, traffic studies, funding sources, and neighborhood outreach. They should not be made by distant residents touting conspiracies from bike lobbies.

Editor’s note: Mr. Alexander is a resident of Scottsdale and community advocate.

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