City seeks exit from Kyrene Road mess The Chandler Arizonan

City seeks exit from Kyrene Road mess

City seeks exit from Kyrene Road mess
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By Kevin Reagan
Arizonan Staff Writer

The city of Chandler is studying potential road improvements for a section of Kyrene Road prone to traffic congestion and accidents.

Aztec Engineering Group will be paid $207,000 to examine traffic patterns over the next six months on the portion of Kyrene Road running from Chandler Boulevard to the Loop 202 freeway.

This stretch is notorious for backed-up traffic along the freeway’s off-ramps, said Andrew Goh, the city’s engineer for capital projects.

So, this study will consider the feasibility of adding more routes and lanes to this region.

“The goal is to solve the congestion issue,” Goh said.

Commuters coming to Chandler in the mornings have likely sat in traffic at the Kyrene Road exit, since it’s often the only place for motorists to get off the freeway between the Interstate 10 and Loop 101 interchanges.

The lack of exits in this area caused a major disruption last October after several motorists tried using an on-ramp to get off the Loop 202 instead of waiting to reach the Kyrene off-ramp.

Surveillance cameras captured rows of cars driving in the wrong direction and coming close to hitting oncoming traffic.

Aztec’s study will provide at least three improvement alternatives, one of which will include a “no-build” option.

The study’s findings will probably recommend widening roads, Goh added, which may pose a challenge for the city since Kyrene Road is mostly surrounded by businesses and homes.

Cities often have to acquire private property to execute road improvements, which can turn into a lengthy legal process involving a city’s right to invoke its eminent domain privilege.

Any type of widening project in Chandler can be difficult, Goh said, and will require careful planning to ensure it won’t cause too much disruption.

Chandler’s newly updated Transportation Master Plan recommends building another frontage lane at the Kyrene Road interchange in order to relieve traffic on the Loop 202.

This type of improvement is estimated to cost $14 million and widening Kyrene Road from four lanes to six could cost up to $18 million.

If the city were to make any road improvements, Goh said it would still need to receive authorization from the council or obtain grant funding from a federal agency.

Several road improvements in Maricopa County are funded through a half-cent sales tax that expires in 2025.

In addition to traffic, Kyrene Road has been singled out as an area with a high occurrence of car accidents.

The Kyrene Road and Chandler Boulevard intersection has previously been ranked as the city’s sixth most dangerous intersection for traffic collisions.

Between 2013 and 2017, this intersection logged 182 collisions and had a daily car volume of 58,160 vehicles.

Chandler Boulevard and Alma School Road had 255 accidents during this five-year period – placing it at the top spot in the city’s 10 most dangerous intersections.

But the number of annual accidents in the Chandler Boulevard-Alma School Road area has dropped in recent years. The Chandler Police Department reported only 19 accidents at the intersection in 2018.

This drastic reduction in accidents could be attributed to intersection improvements done by the city over the last couple years.

In 2016, the Chandler City Council authorized spending millions on adding right-turn lanes in all directions at the Chandler Boulevard-Alma School intersection.

It’s one of several intersection improvements done by the city since Chandler’s population started growing rapidly during the early 2000s.

Starting in 2001, the city began a series of projects to improve capacity at various intersections across northern Chandler.

City data shows traffic collisions dropped at each of these intersections in the years following the road improvements.

The city’s Public Works Departments is in the process of designing improvements for more of Chandler’s roadways. Goh said portions of Alma School, Ocotillo, and Cooper roads are all under review for infrastructure enhancements.

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