Roundabouts along Rio Verde are the preferred choice for Scottsdale drive

City Hall is at 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd. (Independent Newspapers/Arianna Grainey)

Privately paid for roundabouts in north Scottsdale will begin construction soon despite concerns from a group of county residents.

Maricopa County Ombudsman Officer Director Bill Leal reported July 24, despite his office’s best efforts, the city plans to continue with design and construction of two roundabouts at 118th Street and 122nd Street along Rio Verde Drive.

Email correspondence sent to the Independent illustrates members of Rio Verde Horse Association, Scottsdale Transportation Director Paul Basha and Mr. Leal laying out different aspects and concerns of the proposed roundabout projects.

Rio Verde Drive is a two-lane road with a posted speed of 50 MPH.

Developers of Scottsdale National Golf Club are required to fund — not construct, Mr. Basha points out — the north half-street of Dynamite Boulevard from 116th to 122nd streets. Instead of providing funds to the city for a distant future construction for a .75-mile half street, the developer has offered to construct the full width of Dynamite Boulevard for approximately 1 mile.

“This full street will provide one motor vehicle lane per direction, one bicycle lane per direction, and a raised landscaped median,” Mr. Basha writes.

“The developer has also offered to construct two roundabouts — one at the new intersection of 118th Street and Dynamite Boulevard, and one at the existing intersection of 122nd Street and Dynamite Boulevard. Current plans are to complete this construction in calendar year 2018.”

Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Chucri appointed the ombudsman to collect county concerns and investigate the issue.

“The city of Scottsdale agreed to meet with our Maricopa County traffic engineers, and myself as the Ombudsman Director, regarding the proposed roundabouts,” Mr. Leal said.

“At this meeting, we shared the concern you expressed to us related to the need for traffic intersection control, inconvenience, safety and if the roundabouts would be adequate to accommodate all vehicle types that occupy Dynamite/Rio Verde Drive. We also presented alternative design ideas, offered to review plans and provide recommendations to be considered.”

Mr. Leal says the city has decided to continue with its design and construction of both roundabouts.

“In summary, we were told that in Scottsdale, roundabouts are becoming ordinary and in most cases will be the first option considered for future transportation planning versus a four-way stop,” Mr. Leal said in his report to RVCA members.

“Scottsdale is not willing to publicly discuss, as they feel these roundabouts are necessary and will conform to all federal and local design requirements. I wish I had better news to deliver.”

Scottsdale has constructed two roundabouts in recent years, Mr. Basha says.

Earlier this summer, Mr. Basha had written members of the RVCA, Mr. Chucri, city council and other members of Scottsdale staff outlining the city’s position on the roundabout concerns.

“This report definitively concludes that the predicted traffic volumes warrant a traffic signal,” Mr. Basha said.

“Roundabouts are superior to traffic signals for many reasons, as briefly described in the report. Therefore the city of Scottsdale has determined that a roundabout is the appropriate traffic control for the intersection of 118th Street and Dynamite Boulevard.”

In Mr. Basha’s long letter, he points out authorized construction in the area, a General Plan Circulation Element and Transportation Master Plan and the difference in roundabouts vs. traffic circles.

“When 118th Street is completed, it will be an extension of Happy Valley Road, thereby providing an additional direct connection between Dynamite Boulevard and Happy Valley Road,” he said. “Therefore, in 2019, the intersection of 118th Street and Dynamite Boulevard will experience similar traffic volumes to those (that) exist at the Alma School Parkway and Dynamite Boulevard, which currently has a traffic signal.”

Mr. Basha says the transportation Master Plan adopted by city council in July 2016 states roundabouts are the preferred intersection traffic control for both one-lane and two-lane streets. Additionally, current street improvement plans extend through 2026, which do not include any portion of Dynamite Boulevard.

Mr. Leal says that the city of Scottsdale assured him the roundabouts will accommodate a four-door, pick-up truck pulling a six-horse trailer, water haulers and will be designed to accommodate semi-trucks, buses and recreational vehicles pulling boats.

Northeast Valley News Services Editor Melissa Fittro can be e-mailed at mfittro@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/melissafittro.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.