Daily Archives: October 29, 2009

Metro Phoenix freeway projects shelved

PHP4AE93520E9F15[Source: Sean Holstege, Arizona Republic] — Billions of dollars in voter-approved Valley freeway-expansion work will be postponed and scaled back after plummeting tax revenue forced a regional transportation panel to slash spending Wednesday night.  The Regional Council of the Maricopa Association of Governments voted to cut a $16 billion freeway-improvement program to just $9.4 billion.  The projects are funded by Proposition 400, a countywide measure that created a half-percent sales tax and was passed by voters in 2004.

The South Mountain Freeway, a bypass designed to relieve traffic congestion on Interstate 10, survived the cuts.  But controversy over that extension of Loop 202 took an unexpected turn when Joseph Manuel, the Gila River Indian Community’s representative on the panel, announced that the tribe would be willing to consider a proposal to build it on tribal land.  He abstained from the otherwise unanimous vote to cut funding.

Other proposals to build, widen and make other improvements to Valley freeways will be pushed back until after Prop. 400’s end date of 2025.  Because of the recession, MAG planners are projecting a $6.6 billion shortfall over the next 15 years…

Planners also found opportunities to use money more wisely in central Phoenix.  The Prop. 400 plan originally called for improvements on Interstate 17 between Dunlap Avenue and the Stack interchange with I-10.  Planners are now exploring whether Prop. 400 money would be spent more effectively if a lane were added in each direction as I-17 runs past downtown Phoenix between the airport and the Stack… [Note: Read the full article at Metro Phoenix freeway projects shelved.]

New downtown Phoenix grocery market off and running

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Phoenix Public Market now open for business (Photo: KTAR)

[Source: Sadie Jo Smokey, Arizona Republic] — The wait is over.  The first grocery store to open in downtown Phoenix in nearly 30 years is celebrating with sales, raffles, a silent auction and $45-per-person happy hour 5:30-7:30 p.m. today with Arizona wines and beer and light appetizers by Valley chefs.  The Phoenix Public Market Urban Grocery and Wine Bar opened at 14 E. Pierce St. this week to busy lunch crowds, curious downtown employees, Arizona State students, and neighborhood residents.

Laurie Wistuver of El Mirage walked over on her lunch break.  She picked up a package of pasta for dinner.  “It reminds me of a co-op from when I lived in Oregon,” Wistuver said.  “Higher-quality products that are fresh, organic.  I like the breads and stuff. It’s a nice atmosphere.”

Shoppers craving locally grown or made-in-Arizona goods, from organic vegetables to wines and cheeses, no longer have to wait for the weekly farmers market to get their fill of lumpy squash, pungent bouquets of basil, bags of ugly tomatoes, a dozen free-range eggs or a loaf of rustic, multigrain artisan bread.  The urban grocery will provide all that, supports say.  Cindy Gentry, Community Food Connections director, said the grocery store is the next step for a movement that supports local farms and Arizona growers and producers that use fresh, seasonal ingredients and sustainable practices.  “I want this to be a real place where you can do your grocery shopping,” Gentry said.  [Note: Read the full article at New downtown Phoenix grocery market off and running.]

Coalition raises community awareness of metro Phoenix homelessness

[Source: Sadie Jo Smokey, Arizona Republic] — They’ll walk.  They’ll share a meal.  And hopefully, they’ll challenge the preconceived notions and myths about people who are experiencing homelessness.  This week, a coalition of 11 service providers, faith-based organizations, and non-profits which make up the Homelessness Awareness Coalition, will do their part to raise knowledge on the complex issue.  Their lofty goal, to end homelessness in Maricopa County.

According to Brian Spicker of Valley of the Sun United Way, about 8,000 individuals experience homelessness each day in Maricopa County and 14 percent of Arizona’s population lives in poverty.  More and more families and individuals are turning to Valley providers for assistance.  Lack of financial resources, eviction and job loss are the three most common reasons given by persons entering shelters.  “Homelessness impacts diverse people,” Spicker said.  “It’s not just a Phoenix issue.  It’s a Valley-wide issue.  At our last Homeless Connect, 25 percent of attendees were newly homeless.” [Note: Read the full article at Coalition raises community awareness of metro Phoenix homelessness.]

Phoenix ranks as 14th-safest U.S. city

[Source: Ofelia Madrid, Arizona Republic] — The Phoenix metropolitan area is considered the United States’ 14th-safest city, according to a recently released forbes.com list.  The business magazine ranked the 40 largest metropolitan areas in America, based on four categories of danger.  Statistics included 2008 workplace-death rates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics; 2008 traffic death rates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; and natural-disaster risk, using rankings from green living site SustainLane.com.  Also considered was the FBI’s violent-crime rate from the bureau’s 2008 uniform crime report.

Phoenix-Scottsdale-Mesa finished just ahead of Chicago and Austin.  Phoenix metro had the fifth-lowest risk for a natural disaster.  Minneapolis topped this year’s forbes.com list as the safest city in the United States, with the online magazine touting the city’s low crime rate.  Milwaukee ranked second with the lowest natural-disaster risk and Portland, Ore., ranked third, with the lowest crime rate of all the areas considered.  [Note: Read the full article at Phoenix ranks as 14th-safest U.S. city.]

Birdseye view of canals weaving through metro Phoenix

Here are views of Arizona’s canal system from a perspective you and I may not have seen before. Video courtesy of Salt River Project and remix compiled by ASU graduate student, Sam Feldman.