Plan To Cancel Traffic Signs Could Cost Phoenix $708,000

Published: Friday, April 20, 2018 - 10:49am
Updated: Friday, April 20, 2018 - 12:15pm
(Photo by Jim Drake)
The sign structure at Seventh Avenue and Vista was installed with no community input or notification and removed three days later before it was completed.
(Photo Courtesy of City of Phoenix Street Transportation Department)
Schematic with planned design.
(Photo Courtesy of City of Phoenix Street Transportation Department)
Artistic render of planned sign in Cave Creek, just north of Bell Road.

Angry residents are driving Phoenix leaders to possibly end a project that was supposed to help with traffic flow. It could lead to Phoenix writing a sizable check to the federal government.

In 2011, Phoenix’s Street Transportation Department came up with a plan to install electronic signs along Seventh Street and Seventh Avenue. They would display travel time information and suggest alternate routes.

In 2016, the city received a federal grant to cover the pilot project. And early this year, crews installed the first poles along 7th Ave. But they didn’t notify residents who didn’t appreciate the aesthetics of a metal structure that stretched 26 feet tall and 40 feet wide. Or the potential for cut through traffic, as Maria Hyatt, street transportation director recently explained to a city subcommittee.

“So you see the sign and it says, ‘It’s faster to go another route’ Well, where are you going through? Are you taking the major street? That was our intent, but there’s a thought that it could possibly lead people down, ‘I’m going to cut through a neighborhood to get to that other street’,” she said.

Citing neighborhood concerns and the ability to receive travel time information in other formats like smartphone apps, Hyatt said the project should be terminated. Doing so would likely require Phoenix to reimburse the Federal Highway Administration for the $708,000 that has been spent.

“However, the equipment we have in place, so we feel that we could possibly reuse elements of the equipment, either reuse them or possibly resell them,” she said. “And, we would also negotiate with the Federal Highway Administration to see if we could reuse the funds that were assigned to this project for a different project and move forward.”

The subcommittee agreed the pilot project should be terminated. The final decision is up to the full council.

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