By City Councilmember Shana Ellis
Transportation is vital for our continued efforts to make Tempe a sustainable and progressive community. As chair of the City Council Transportation Committee, I monitor and provide guidance for a vast array of transportation-related issues. Together, our community has accomplished many things over the last 15 years and we have exciting opportunities to come.
Things really began moving when Tempe voters passed a dedicated, half-cent sales tax in 1996. Since then, the city has enhanced its bus and Dial-a-Ride systems, launched Orbit neighborhood circulators, created a free youth transit pass program youth, added bikeways and pedestrian facilities, implemented light rail and constructed two green transportation facilities.
Tempe’s transportation system moves more than just cars and buses. We have an extensive bicycle and pedestrian network that is continuously being improved. In 2011, we completed two key projects: improving the Crosscut Canal multi-use path; and revamping the streetscape, bike lanes and sidewalks of a section of College Avenue. The Crosscut Canal path is now paved, with landscaping, solar lighting and public art. It provides a true regional connection by linking downtown Tempe and Scottsdale. The streetscape project has sustainable features like water harvesting and desert landscaping, along with reduced asphalt and added trees. It includes sidewalk improvements, raised medians, median islands, bicycle lanes, raised intersections and street narrowing.
Moving from the recent past to the present, Tempe has recently used regional and federal grant funds to put 17 new hybrid-electric buses into service, replacing older, less fuel-efficient models. You can see them on our streets now – they hold more passengers, produce fewer emissions and make less noise than conventional buses. We are proud that they are visible signs of Tempe’s desire to innovate, conserve fuel and provide excellent customer service.
While the city has completed many great transportation projects and enhanced the way we move people, there is still much work to be done. On the horizon is the establishment of a Tempe Streetcar. Planned to open in 2016, the Tempe Streetcar will run 2.6 miles along Mill Avenue between downtown Tempe and Southern Avenue. It is critical to developing a total transit network in this region. The Tempe Streetcar will support the existing transit system and community with its ability to attract new riders, increase mobility, strengthen existing neighborhoods and create sustainable development. The project will provide one additional way to get around Tempe – and so much more.
For details on Tempe’s transportation system, visit www.tempe.gov/tim. The City Council Transportation Committee’s work plan is available at www.tempe.gov/clerk/CouncilCommittees.htm. I also invite you to watch the October edition of Community Focus on Tempe 11 at www.tempe.gov/tempe11. Feel free to contact me at 480-350-8813 or via email at email@example.com.