City of Phoenix Mayor Candidate Wes Gullett has again spoken out against the current construction of Sonoran Boulevard along the Dove Valley alignment (the road to nowhere) in a press release on his website (reproduced below). The Sonoran Citizens Improvement Association would like to thank Mr. Gullett and also note that he is the only mayoral candidate who has taken a pro-citizen stand on this $40+ million dollar issue. The full text and images of his press release re reproduced verbatim below:
Asks the City Council to hold public hearings to prevent further harm
Phoenix, AZ – Today Mayoral candidate Wes Gullett again called for an immediate stop to construction of the western portion of Sonoran Boulevard, previously Dove Valley Road. Gullett originally wrote the City of Phoenix on March 24, 2011, asking for them to stop construction and to provide additional information about why the City of Phoenix was building a road to nowhere. The response from the City did not provide the information he originally requested.
“This project is a huge mistake and we need to figure out why the City has decided to spend more than $40 million dollars on a road that goes nowhere,” stated Gullett. “Sonoran Boulevard should connect to the I-17 and the Loop 303 as originally planned. The project the City is currently building misses the mark by a mile.”
Residents in the area felt like they were the victims of a “bait and switch” when Dove Valley Road was suddenly renamed Sonoran Boulevard and Lone Mountain Road/Sonoran Boulevard was renamed Sonoran Desert Drive in November 2010. At that time, residents discovered that there was no plan to build Sonoran Boulevard to the south of the North Village Gateway Core as city planning documents clearly show.
On April 16, 2011, the Arizona Republic reported that Councilmember Peggy Neely would like to change the names back to the original names among other things. “Mrs. Neely is not offering solutions. She is just aggravating a huge mistake that she and the City of Phoenix have made,” commented Gullett. “Mrs. Neely’s solution is the typical politician response when their hand is caught in the cookie jar – just spend more tax payer money to cover up the mistake. The City should stop construction on the road to nowhere and build the road that actually will connect to the Loop 303.”
There are serious concerns about the lack of connectivity, since the new road does not connect with the I-17 or the Loop 303. Additionally, the city does not have the money to build a $30 million dollar bridge to connect to the I-17. Lone Mountain Road, where the project was originally shown, does have a bridge commitment and will connect to the I-17 and the Loop 303.
Read letter below:
Dear Mayor Gordon, Members of the City Council, and City Manager Cavazos:
On March 24, 2011, I wrote this body expressing serious concerns about the construction of Sonoran Boulevard. At that time, I asked that you stop construction on a portion of Sonoran Boulevard “until there can be a thorough public decision making process conducted regarding the alignment and prioritization of Sonoran Boulevard,” (emphasis added.)
I am in receipt of the letter the City Manager dated April 4, 2011, and unfortunately, that response did not address my concerns or provide the information I requested from the City. Moreover, you have neglected to address the underlying questions that have been raised by myself and the residents in the area. Most notably:
- Why is the City of Phoenix building a $40 million dollar plus road project that goes nowhere?
- Why would city traffic engineers choose to build a road that “will not provide the ideal level of connectivity?”
- Why is the City claiming that it is building the project “as it was always planned” when official city documents consistently show Sonoran Boulevard’s location on the south alignment and south of the North Gateway Village Core?
- If Sonoran Boulevard was to be built in phases, why did the City decide not to build the first phase of Sonoran Boulevard along the southern alignment so that it would connect to the Loop 303?
- When did the City decide to prioritize Dove Valley Road over Lone Mountain Road?
- Why did the City decide to build along Dove Valley Road instead of Lone Mountain Road when there is a scheduled and funded bridge at Lone Mountain Road that will actually allow the road to connect with the I-17?
- Why did the City decide to build along Dove Valley Road, when there is no plan or funding for a bridge across Skunk Creek to connect to the I-17?
- Why the “Bait and Switch?” If this was always the plan, why did the City find it necessary to change the name of Dove Valley Road to Sonoran Boulevard to avoid confusion?
- Why did the City Council not ratify the change in prioritization creating a lack of transparency?
- Why did the City not engage citizens on the western portion of Sonoran Boulevard as directed by council action and the East Sonoran Parkway Alignment (ESPA) Committee in 2006?
- Why is a city official blaming homebuilders for “misinforming” buyers when there is no public record or communication with the community on the change of prioritization?
- Why was the public not notified at every step of the construction process so that they could plan for the future construction disruptions?
- When will the Lone Mountain alignment construction commence?
- Did any City Councilmember encourage the City to prioritize Dove Valley Road over Lone Mountain Road?
- Won’t building Dove Valley Road fundamentally change the development of the North Gateway Core and have there been appropriate changes to the North Gateway Core plan?
- Won’t building Dove Valley Road first fundamentally change the flow of traffic through the core?
- Where are the traffic reports that the City completed when it asked MAG to change the scope of the project?
None of these questions were answered in the materials that I was provided by the City Manager. There was a decision made at some point to build Sonoran Boulevard along the Dove Valley alignment instead of the Lone Mountain alignment. The decision to build only the Dove Valley alignment was not made by the Phoenix City Council in 2006 according to the documents that were sent to me.
The current project, as being built along the Dove Valley Alignment, does not connect to the I-17. It abruptly ends at Dove Valley and North Valley Parkway. To get to the I-17 a driver will either have to drive north to Carefree Highway and then drive west to finally connect to the freeway. If a driver wants to go south, they will have to drive two miles to get to a road that actually connects with the I-17. However, during the rainy season, it has been reported that flooding cuts off the southern route. As it stands now, there is no plan or money to provide direct access to the I-17 from the Dove Valley alignment.
The weight of evidence shows that Sonoran Boulevard was supposed to be built along Lone Mountain Road.
The letter from City Manager Cavazos states that the City Council approved the recommendations from the East Sonoran Parkway Alignment (ESPA) Committee on June 20, 2006. As you stated in your letter, the “North Alignment” was selected as the preferred route for the Parkway. The “North Alignment” included two roads from the western portion of the alignment. The road to the south aligned with Lone Mountain Road and was also named Sonoran Parkway and the road to the north was from Dove Valley Road that connected to Sonoran Parkway at a “Y” intersection in the preserve. The documents you reference in your letter clearly show “Sonoran Parkway/Boulevard” is aligned with Lone Mountain Road.
The image below is from the Sonoran Parkway Corridor Study. It shows the two distinct roads that were approved by the ESPA and eventually the City Council. As you will note, it has one road to the north, Dove Valley, and Sonoran Parkway continues to the south and aligns with Lone Mountain Road.
Sonoran Parkway Corridor Study Map
The 2008 North Gateway Village Core Plan, which was also approved by the City Council states:
“Lone Mountain Road/Sonoran Boulevard, a major arterial street, transects the southern portion of the Core. Lone Mountain Road is proposed to be a six lane major arterial that connects with Loop 303 to the west and extends as a parkway to the east over the Sonoran Preserve. Lone Mountain Road may receive a scenic corridor designation from I-17 east in concert with the Sonoran Boulevard. Lone Mountain Road/Sonoran Boulevard has not been developed west of North Valley Parkway. Construction is expected when the adjacent properties develop. ADOT is planning to construct an interchange with I-17 at Lone Mountain Road/Sonoran Boulevard by 2009.”
Additionally, the City of Phoenix produced maps and final plats consistently showing Sonoran Parkway (renamed Boulevard) to the south of the core, aligned with Lone Mountain Road. As the description and the images show, the City of Phoenix is not building Sonoran Parkway/Boulevard as discussed by the public or approved by the City Council in 2008.
2008 North Gateway Village Core Plan
Lack of Transparency
Your letter boasts the number of public hearings and presentations regarding Sonoran Boulevard. However, the approved recommendations from the ESPA stated: “Consider connectivity (especially to the north) and community involvement to design the street network as new development occurs to the west of the ESPA study area.” Yet once the contract for design was initiated, there was clearly a lack of public record or input.
Given the consistent public record showing Sonoran Boulevard along the Lone Mountain Road Alignment and the lack of public record regarding the change to Dove Valley Road, there is no possible way for residents to have had information about any prioritization change.
Additionally, residents have searched and asked for any supporting documentation regarding the northern alignment and to date have not found any information that indicates public discourse or a vote that changed the prioritization from Lone Mountain Road to Dove Valley Road. An official decision to move the Sonoran Boulevard to Dove Valley Road does not exist in the public record.
As I stated in my previous letter, I am concerned that the decision to change Sonoran Boulevard from the Lone Mountain Road alignment to Dove Valley Road, is in direct contradiction of council approved plans that were made during the past decade. I am concerned that the change of alignment and prioritization was made without appropriate public discourse or City Council action. When the City decided to change the name of Dove Valley Road to Sonoran Boulevard, people in the area had no idea that the decision would in reality change the alignment and priority of the major east-west corridor. In addition, changing the alignment of Sonoran Boulevard extends the practical connection with Interstate 17 into the distant future. Any decision of this magnitude should be done in an open and transparent way with significant public input so that the citizens impacted by the decision can express their concerns, and that does not appear to have happened in this case.
The decision to build Sonoran Boulevard along the Dove Valley Road alignment is a mistake. The road that is under construction will not connect to the I-17 in the foreseeable future. This decision must be corrected. We are wasting the scarce resources of the taxpayers of Phoenix and Maricopa County by not connecting Sonoran Boulevard to the I-17 at the Loop 303.
On April 16, 2011, the Arizona Republic reported that Councilmember Neely asked city staff to do seven things in an effort to ameliorate the Sonoran Boulevard situation. Mrs. Neely’s ideas just make the situation worse by adding confusion, providing false hope to the neighborhood and costing the taxpayers even more money. This mistake should not be corrected by spending more money. It should be corrected by building the road that actually connects to the Loop 303.
Please stop construction on the western section of Sonoran Boulevard. Please answer the questions I have posed in this letter and please build a road that will offer the citizens of our city and county the connectivity that they are entitled.
Lastly, as I have stated before, it is necessary to have a full public discussion about this project. This is not a “NIMBY” (Not In MY Back Yard) issue as has been suggested by at least one elected official. This is a project that has significant regional impact and must to be properly addressed. The City needs to hold public hearings and bring transparency to the forefront of the process.
Candidate for Mayor of Phoenix
CC: Maricopa Association of Governments Regional Council