A new report concludes that light rail, modern streetcar and bus rapid transit should all still be considered along Scottsdale Road through downtown. But it does not recommend which one would be best for the city.
First, the report says that if light rail is selected to run between the Tempe border and Chaparral Road, it should not travel through downtown on Scottsdale Road, but rather along Drinkwater or Goldwater boulevards until it can reconnect with Scottsdale Road. The report also says if bus rapid transit is used, it should be used from the left lane and not the curb lane of traffic. Using the curb lane makes it too similar to the existing bus route, the report says.
There is also an option to have light rail stop at SkySong at McDowell Road.
The report, part of the $1.1 million update to the city’s Transportation Master Plan, is scheduled to be presented to the Scottsdale Transportation Commission on Thursday, and the City Council during a study session on Tuesday. It has been the most contentious part of the plan update, which has studied streets, bikes, pedestrians and other forms of transit.
Heated debates among residents and city officials over the past year have focused on Scottsdale Road being the designated corridor, including a failed attempt by light-rail detractors to eliminate the designation. The City Council agreed to call a public election before deciding whether to select one of these alternatives, but no date was set.
The Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce has supported a fixed-rail system, while a group opposing light rail — the Scottsdale Citizens Transportation Study Committee — has been meeting and forming its own ideas.
Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce President Rick Kidder said he had not seen the report, but said the group still favors light rail or streetcar.
“I don’t think anybody within our group has stated that they can picture light rail through downtown,” Kidder said. “Streetcar may offer a better alternative at one-third of the cost (about $22 million a mile) and is a little more to Scottsdale’s scale.”
Sam West, a local architect and chairman of the resident study group, said his problem is with a fixed-rail route used by both light rail and streetcar.
“If you put a fixed route in place, if anything changes, then the route you put in and alignment you set up does not serve the purpose anymore,” West said.
The report by consultants HDR, working on the initial 20-mile light-rail route through Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa set to open in December 2008, does not say when the next round of study would begin or how it would be funded. The report does indicate Scottsdale has asked that information from the study be integrated into a regional transit framework study set to start in January.