So, just how are traffic lights and increased traffic patrols considered in the West Valley?
Tonight in Goodyear, city traffic engineers will explain to council members how traffic signals are evaluated and prioritized within the city's Capital Improvement Program - or CIP.
Deciding whether to install a traffic light actually starts at the top with the Federal Highway Administration's guidelines. These guidelines, detailed in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, (MUTCD), include nine "warrants." Warrants are factors identifying the need for traffic signals such as peak hours, school crossings, crash history, and volume of traffic in specific intersections.
Goodyear's traffic operations staff have identified nine intersections in its All-America City which are not currently funded in the CIP program but are being evaluated. Maybe you've driven through them....
Because Goodyear has no ongoing funds for installing new traffic signals, staff need to ask lawmakers for CIP funding. From this graphic below, you can see Yuma Road and Canyon Trails Boulevard is the most critical intersection under evaluation meeting four traffic signal warrants. It's reported a developer has upped 75% of the funding for a new traffic light. The other 25% will need to come from Goodyear's CIP for Fiscal Year 2015-2016.
Discussion about traffic signals got a boost after our blog post April 14th. The night before, Goodyear City Council unanimously approved a Taco Bell drive through in Estrella without first considering the traffic danger in front of the Starpointe Residents Club. Residents were surprised because they had expressed concerns to staff previously and decided the only way to bring attention to lawmakers was to start a petition and letter writing campaign.
When we purchased our home in Estrella Mountain Ranch we chose our home location based on proximity to the shopping center, club house and lakes. We wanted to be able to reach these amenities by foot or bicycle. Each morning I enjoy taking my 2 youngest children in their double stroller for a walk around the lakes. When my 7 year old is home he likes to tag along on his bike. It has become increasingly dangerous to cross the intersection. I have witnessed many close calls and 2 accidents. I am concerned for our drivers, pedestrians, and bikers. I am urging city council to please install a traffic light at this intersection. ~Suzanne McEvoy, Estrella Resident
As commercial and residential development continues in the Estrella and Canta Mia areas, traffic is getting congested and dangerous in the intersection of San Gabriel Drive and Elliot Road, where the entrance/exit is to the Starpointe Residents Club. City Council has recently approved a Taco Bell with a drive through, just east of this intersection. We are asking the Goodyear City Council to consider installing a traffic signal for the safety of our residents and guests, whether they use that intersection as pedestrians, motorists, or bicyclists. We would like to see the City Council act in a proactive fashion, instead of waiting to react to a serious accident. ~Sara Gilligan, Estrella Resident
My hat's off to residents who care enough to get involved and speak up. Lawmakers can make decisions without really understanding the local needs of the people... especially when residents do not show up at council meetings to provide public input. I do appreciate city staff and lawmakers who actually visit locations to see for themselves what concerns are BEFORE going to a vote. I do appreciate lawmakers who are willing to meet with residents, listen to their concerns, and consider options for accommodating new growth while ensuring the safety of the people in the immediate area.
HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED
GOODYEAR AND AVONDALE
In Avondale, the police department is taking a proactive approach with its highlighted "crash zones." Here's the link to the police department. You can email the Avondale mayor and council at this link.
This is the link to Maricopa County's Department of Transportation.
Then word about cuts started happening at my own daughter's school.
Neighbors were in a panic and encouraging others to join the peaceful protests at the sate Capitol. The district held informational talks within our local community. And concerned parents started letter writing campaigns.
This week, word that our librarian's position is on the chopping block. I can only guess what's coming next.
Living in Arizona has its challenges when it comes to education. I do feel, as a parent, it's my responsibility to do a good chunk of the education at home. That's more than just reviewing homework. It's about doing additional research online, visiting locations where more learning and hands-on experiences can take place, and most important, engaging in thought-provoking conversations with my child about real world events, current and historical.
Do our lawmakers really understand what's happening in our schools? I haven't seen too many visit my child's school lately.
Tell us about the cuts happening at your school... and please share your ideas for getting taxpayers on board for voting in favor of schools.
~TELL US ABOUT THE BUDGET CUTS HAPPENING AT YOUR SCHOOL~
POST COMMENTS HERE
Last night, the Goodyear City Council voted unanimously to allow a Taco Bell with a drive-through to locate in the community of Estrella.
Bringing fast food restaurants into Estrella is a hot topic among residents. Council members know it's a hot topic, too, or at least should after the McDonald's debate in the spring of 2013. But, I'm not going get into the mud on this one.
I do want to talk about the element of "surprise."
When discussing this with others in the community, one resident commented that they didn't even know there was a meeting. In fact, not a single resident from Estrella spoke at the meeting... even though resident conversation on this topic has been ongoing for several months.
Reasonable thinking would conclude it's the resident's responsibility to know when council meetings are scheduled. In Goodyear, meetings are posted on the city's website and in its InFocus citizen newsletters mailed mailed to residences.
But, it may not be enough. And I do believe there's a solution.
In the spring of 2013, I was among a handful of council members from Goodyear who attend the National League of Cities, or NLC, conference in Washington D.C. One seminar that sticks with me today covered "Innovative Strategies for Involving and Engaging Citizens." Here are my notes from the meeting:
What creates an uninformed public in the first place?
Let's face it, government meetings can be downright boring. The typical government meeting is speaker-focused and involves just those who are already active on the issues. Afterward, there's little reporting about what happened at these meetings. This scenario makes for an uninformed public, too.
As a solution, the NLC seminar speakers from "America Speaks" suggested cities engage residents by holding "deliberative forums." What's that? It's an effort to reach into communities by getting residents who are typically not engaged to attend convenient "participant-focused" meetings. This approach invites citizens to conveniently share their ideas and concerns with lawmakers and city planners. It does require government to recruit the hard-to-reach and be creative. Successful out-reach strategies include:
If it's not cost-effective to hold a meeting in a rare location, why not send out surveys for citizen input? That's a lot cheaper and incredibly convenient, as well, for both government and residents.
*To the city's credit, planners did hold a meeting regarding the Taco Bell drive-through on February 25th at 6:30pm in Estrella. News about the meeting was hard to find. I heard about it from a neighbor who happened to see it at the bottom of an HOA email blast. It was not mentioned in the InFocus newsletter. And as you can see, the meeting is not on the city's website calendar. Turnout was small... and when that happens, the city considers the "issue" to be a non-issue.
Make no mistake, the City of Goodyear knows how to successfully pull off neighborhood events when they want to. Staff practiced the recommended approach when gathering public input for the 2025 General Plan. This document outlines every open house meeting held in which residents could attend and learn more about the plan.
So why isn't this approach being used on hot button topics like the one last night in Estrella?
When officials engage the public, the forums and results are "often seen as more legitimate." The results are more "consensus based." And the action taken is more "supportable."
If government works hard enough, it can eliminate the excuses that people use to avoid meetings. When residents feel they can have a say, such as in small group discussions and Q&A, they're more likely to get involved. Take a look at the wonderful photos from the General Plan open houses. That was highly successful... even if it took some extra work.
I was able to watch last night's meeting online. I'm incredibly concerned about the traffic safety issue and have contacted those at the city who I think can help. And that's what residents should do. Instead of complaining, be proactive. Look at the wonderful example of the "Saving the Orchard" movement.
No excuses, people. No excuses.