Bike lanes and sidewalks could become part of 99th Avenue in Sun City.
Maricopa County Department of Transportation officials are considering changes to the roadway to improve opportunities for bicyclists and walkers in the community. Changes could also include work on the drainage canal that runs between the two sets of traffic lanes.
MCDOT officials conducted a public meeting Sept. 18 to showcase the initial proposals. A second public meeting is scheduled 3-5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5 at Marinette Recreation Center, 9860 W. Union Hills Drive.
Sporadic corridor and business development caused small gaps in the existing pedestrian network, which creates a barrier to pedestrian travel, according to information in the MCDOT Active Transportation Plan. Strategically filling pedestrian facility gaps can link people to jobs, shopping, recreational opportunities and provide choices for convenient travel by foot or with the use of mobility devices.
Rainey Holloway, MCDOT spokeswoman, said the agency’s ATP is an extension of its Transportation System Plan that identified roadway needs. The TSP was completed in 2017 and the ATP was completed in 2018, she stated in an email.
“Following TSP completion, MCDOT wanted to further identify pedestrian and bicycle needs and established the Active Transportation Plan,” she stated. “Ninty-ninth Avenue from Olive Avenue to Beardsley Road was included in the ATP.”
The targeted roadway in Sun City has few sidewalks and no bicycle lanes. The addition of both would be beneficial to residents, according to Sun City Home Owners Association and Sun City Cyclist officials.
“There are very few sidewalks along 99th,” said Art Jenkins, SCHOA Roads and Safety Committee chairman. “I know only a short version from about Willowcreek Circle to Beardsley Road on the east side.”
He speculates the sidewalk was added after resident requests and was desired to allow them to walk to the Bashas’ store at 99th Avenue and Beardsley Road.
“But if people on the west side of 99th want to do that, they have to either walk on the gravel embankment of cross over 99th to the east side for the sidewalk,” he said.
Sun City Cyclists would like to see bike lanes on 99th Avenue to help them avoid the high volume and speed of traffic there, according to Warren Smock, a club member.
“We do ride on 99th because it is really the only way into and out of Sun City for bikers,” he said.
Mr. Smock added bicyclists avoid the northern section of 107th Avenue because north of Union Hills Drive the roadway narrows to two lanes and there are little or no shoulders.
He acknowledged the traffic volume and speed is higher on 99th Avenue.
“But I would be more likely to ride on 99th Avenue if it had bike lanes,” he said.
During the Sept. 18 meeting, MCDOT officials presented two initial alternatives, according to Ms. Holloway. The first alternative includes the addition of sidewalks, northbound and southbound, and adding in bicycle lanes only where there currently is enough space to do so, she explained. The second alternative includes the addition of sidewalks, northbound and southbound, and adding in a few feet of pavement to accommodate a bicycle lane, northbound and southbound, she added.
Mr. Smock said the bicycle club preferred the second alternative.
“If you’re going to do it, you should do it all the way,” he said.
Mr. Smock also said MCDOT officials said where side streets, such as Cameo Drive, cross 99th Avenue the addition of sidewalks in the medians along the bridge rails will be added so pedestrians would not have to walk on the roadway.
Mr. Jenkins said he was unaware of the Sept. 18 meeting so did not attend. However, he has some questions about how the embankments along 99th Avenue will be handled when adding sidewalks and bike lanes and how will water runoff and erosion be addressed.
“Since I wasn’t at the meeting I can’t say much officially,” Mr. Jenkins said. “I don’t have a lot of answers, but I do have a lot of questions.”However, from a personal perspective, he is leery of bike lanes on 99th Avenue due to the high speeds and volume there.
“There are some bike lanes in other communities that would scare me to death to ride on,” he said.
While she provided no details, Ms. Holloway said the 99th Avenue corridor study includes consideration of changes to the drainage canal.
“A drainage analysis is included in the study,” she stated. “The recommendations will be made available in the final report.”
IF YOU GO:
What: Maricopa County Department of Transportation ATP public meeting
When: 3-5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5
Where: Marinette Recreation Center, 9860 W. Union Hills Drive
By Rusty Bradshaw