Thursday, November 26, 2020 10:27 pm

The Monday Morning Commute: Ask the traffic engineer.

By Paul Basha, traffic engineer, Summit Land Management

Why was the Hayden / Frank Lloyd Wright intersection constructed so close to the Pima Freeway / Frank Lloyd Wright interchange?

Well, it’s a long unpleasant story. And I was intimately involved with the decisions in the late 1980’s. A current television commercial says, “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.”

In the early 1980’s, the Pima Freeway alignment was not on Beardsley Road, where it is today. The freeway was planned to be on Bell Road. (The extension of Bell Road from Phoenix into Scottsdale is Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard – diverted south because of the Central Arizona Project Canal.) With the Bell Road alignment for the Freeway, the Scottsdale plan was to connect Hayden Road to Pima Road with the interchange in the curve of the freeway (just like it is now at Princess Drive). By the mid 1980’s, the Hayden Road design was complete, and construction was imminent.

Also in the mid 1980’s, the Arizona Department of Transportation re-aligned the then-planned freeway from Bell Road to Beardsley Road. The primary reason was that Bell Road in Phoenix was primarily a business corridor, while Beardsley Road was through primarily vacant property.

So, the City of Scottsdale needed to decide if they should trash the Hayden Road design, and start over, or allow construction to begin. The decision was for construction to proceed.

The reasoning was that when the Pima Freeway was constructed, the Frank Lloyd Wright interchange would use the Hayden/ Frank Lloyd Wright intersection.

An interchange combined with a city street occurs often. This design exists at the SR-202 / 52nd Street interchange at Van Buren Road in east Phoenix. Southbound 52nd Street becomes the eastbound (southbound in photograph) freeway entrance. The westbound freeway exit (northbound in photograph) becomes northbound 52nd Street.

However, the owner of the property south of Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard, east of Hayden Road, and west of the Pima Freeway; offered the Arizona Department of Transportation the land for the freeway at a reduced cost, if the southbound on-ramp included direct access to their future development – rather atypical. The low cost allowed ADOT to fund more freeways, so of course they accepted the offer.

Fortunately in 2013, the City of Scottsdale installed a roundabout at the intersection of Hayden Road and Northsight Boulevard. Also constructed was Northsight Boulevard directly from Hayden Road to Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard. This provided an efficient route for northbound-to-westbound left turns from Hayden to Frank Lloyd Wright. Now this left-turning traffic does not need to use the Hayden / Frank Lloyd Wright intersection, thereby reducing congestion at Hayden / Frank Lloyd Wright. An exceptionally brilliant idea, though it was not mine.

Curious about something traffic?  Contact Paul Basha at (480) 505-3931 or pbasha@summitlandmgmt.com.

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