Category Archives: Travel

Downtown Voices statement on “Advancing Solutions to America’s Transportation Problems”

At their February 13 monthly meeting, the Downtown Voices Coalition Steering Committee voted unanimously to support the transportation improvement objectives of the U.S. and Arizona chapter of Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) as outlined in the report, “Advancing Solutions To America’s Transportation Problems.”  These principles, reprinted below, are in keeping with Downtown Voices’ priority issues.

Advancing Solutions to America’s Transportation Problems: The nation’s transportation system is in trouble.  America’s dependence on cars for transportation is the number one cause of our addiction to oil and a major contributor to global warming and air pollution.  Americans waste millions of hours each year on congested roads – many of which are in increasingly poor repair.  At the same time, we spend billions of taxpayer dollars each year on wasteful projects that should go to basic maintenance, modernization and investments in better transportation choices.  America must move toward a new transportation future for the 21st century that enhances our economy, national security, public health, environment, and quality of life.  To get there, we need a new federal transportation policy that does the following:

  • Expands clean, efficient transportation choices for Americans by prioritizing investment of new capital funds for light rail, commuter rail, rapid bus service, high-speed intercity rail and other forms of modern public transportation.  At the same time, federal policy should encourage transportation investments that build dynamic and accessible communities, where more Americans can walk, bike or take transit to get where they need to go.
  • Fixes our crumbling roads and bridges by investing more federal highway money in maintenance, not massive new highway projects.  It’s time for the federal government to embrace an approach to highway spending that prioritizes maintaining and modernizing our existing highways over building more.
  • Spends taxpayers’ money more wisely by focusing transportation dollars on solving our nation’s biggest problems.  For decades, the federal government has spent billions of dollars on highway projects with little evaluation and no accountability.  That must change. Federal transportation money should be spent only on projects that produce real results over the long haul – for example, by reducing our dependence on oil, curbing global warming pollution, alleviating congestion, improving safety, and supporting healthy, sustainable communities.

Steve Weiss, Chair, Steering Committee

Downtown Phoenix Events Calendars

If you’re looking for things to do and places to see in and around downtown Phoenix, may we suggest you visit and bookmark these websites for “the best of the best” events calendars (in our humble opinion):

If you know of another events calendar (that’s as comprehensive as the ones listed above), please do tell.

Award winning author offers up favorite Arizona trips

As part of United Airlines’ Hemispheres Magazine’s “Three Perfect Days” series, Peter Aleshire shares his favorite places in Phoenix, Arizona, and recommends the perfect three day itinerary for people visiting the city.

Cities x Design made quick stop to Phoenix this weekend

Cities x Design is a 35-city trans-media research trip across the United States that is recorded online and will later be released in film, exhibition, and book form.  Their fifth stop was Phoenix.  Visit their website to learn more about their trip, express your opinion on your favorite metro Phoenix sites, and view pictures of places they visited here and along the way to their next stop, San Diego.

Downtown Phoenix Deck Park Tunnel reduces lanes on weekends

[Source: Doug Murphy, Ahwatukee Foothills News] — Heads up if you’re traveling in the downtown Phoenix area over the next several weekends. Interstate 10’s “Deck Park Tunnel” will be closed one direction at a time for three of the next four weekends while road crews perform regular maintenance on the fire detection system.  The one exception will be over the Fourth of July weekend (July 3-6) when there will be no restrictions.

Restrictions will impact eastbound motorists over the first two weekends of road work, and then switch to westbound traffic for the last two weekends.  The detour route is McDowell Road, although transportation officials recommend motorists bypass I-10 and use Interstate 17 instead. Traffic from Ahwatukee Foothills can avoid delays by taking I-17 near Sky Harbor International Airport. Westbound I-10 traffic will be detoured off at Seventh Street to McDowell Road and returned to I-10 at Seventh Avenue.  The work schedule is:

  • June 26 11 p.m. – June 29 5 a.m.: Eastbound I-10 will be closed the same as the previous weekend, with the same ramp closures and detours in place.
  • July 10 11 p.m. – July 13 5 a.m.: Westbound I-10 will be closed from Seventh Street to Seventh Avenue.  Also closed will be the westbound Loop 202 and the southbound State Route 51 ramps to westbound I-10. westbound I-10 ramps at 16th and Seventh streets will also be closed.
  • July 17 11 a.m. – July 20 5 a.m.: Westbound I-10 will be closed the same as the previous weekend, with the same ramp closures and detours in place.

For current information on road closures, visit http://www.az511.com or call 5-1-1. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Swine flu outbreak continues to grow in U.S. and internationally

[Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)] — The human swine flu outbreak continues to grow in the United States and internationally.  Today, CDC reports additional cases of confirmed swine influenza and a number of hospitalizations of swine flu patients.  Internationally, the situation is more serious too, with additional countries reporting confirmed cases of swine flu.  In response to the intensifying outbreak, the World Health Organization raised the worldwide pandemic alert level to Phase 4.  A Phase 4 alert is characterized by confirmed person-to-person spread of a new influenza virus able to cause “community-level” outbreaks.”  The increase in the pandemic alert phase indicates that the likelihood of a pandemic has increased.

U.S. Human Cases of Swine Flu Infection

As of 11:00 AM ET on April 28, the CDC has confirmed 64 human cases of swine flu infection in the United States:

  • California: 10 cases
  • Kansas: 2 cases
  • New York City: 45 cases
  • Ohio: 1 case
  • Texas: 6 cases

Yesterday, CDC issued a travel warning recommending that people avoid non-essential travel to Mexico.  CDC continues to issue interim guidance daily on the website and through health alert network notices.  CDC’s Division of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) is releasing one-quarter of its antiviral drugs, personal protective equipment, and respiratory protection devices to help states respond to the outbreak.  The swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is susceptible to the prescription antiviral drugs oseltamivir and zanamivir.  This is a rapidly evolving situation and CDC will provide updated guidance and new information as it becomes available.  For more information, see the CDC Swine Flu website.

International Human Cases of Swine Flu Infection

For information about investigation into cases outside the United States, see the World Health Organization website.

What You Can Do to Stay Healthy

There are everyday actions people can take to stay healthy.

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.  Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze.  Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.  Germs spread that way.

Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

  • Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
  • If you get sick, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

For more information on what you can to stay safe and healthy, check the CDC Swine Flu website.

Additional Updates on the CDC Swine Flu Website

To learn about other updates made to the CDC Swine Flu Website in the past 24 hours, please check the “What’s New” page on the CDC Swine Flu website.

Viewpoint: How to drive in Phoenix, Arizona

Okay, this is one of those chain e-mails from a friend.  But it’s all about Phoenix.  Which is what we communicate here.  And we can’t be serious all of the time, right?  So here goes: How to drive in Phoenix, Arizona…

  1. “Phoenix ” actually consists of Scottsdale, Chandler, Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert, Glendale, and half of border with Mexico.
  2. The morning rush hour is from 5 a.m. to Noon.  The evening rush hour is from Noon to 9 p.m. Friday’s rush hour starts on Thursday morning.
  3. The minimum acceptable speed on most freeways is 85 mph.  On Loop 101, your speed is expected to match the highway number.  Anything less is considered “Wussy.”
  4. Forget the traffic rules you learned elsewhere.  Phoenix has its own version of traffic rules.  For example, cars/trucks with the loudest muffler go first at a four-way stop; the trucks with the biggest tires go second.  However, East Valley, SUV-driving, cell phone-talking moms ALWAYS have the right of way.
  5. If you actually stop at a yellow light, you will be rear ended.
  6. Never honk at anyone.  Ever.  Seriously.  It’s an offense that can get you shot.
  7. Road construction is permanent in Phoenix.  Detour barrels are moved around for your entertainment pleasure during the middle of the night to make the next day’s driving a bit more exciting.
  8. Watch carefully for road hazards such as drunks, dogs, barrels, cones, cats, mattresses, shredded tires, rabbits, vultures, javelinas, roadrunners, and the coyotes feeding on any of these items.
  9. Maricopa Freeway, Papago Freeway, and the “I-10” are the same road.  SR202 is the same road as The Red Mountain FWY.  Dunlap and Olive are the same street too.  Jefferson becomes Washington, but they are not the same street.  I-17 is also called The Black Canyon Freeway as well as The Veterans Memorial Highway. The SR 51 was renamed to Piestewa Freeway because Squaw Peak Parkway was too easy to pronounce.  SR 101 is also the Pima FWY except west of I-17, which is also The Black Canyon FWY, and The Veterans Memorial HWY.  Lastly, Thunderbird Rd. becomes Cactus Rd. but, Cactus Rd. doesn’t become Thunderbird Rd. because it dead ends at a mountain.
  10. If someone actually has their turn signal on, wave them to the shoulder immediately to let them know it has been “accidentally activated.”
  11. If you are in the left lane and only driving 70 in a 55-65 mph zone, you are considered a road hazard and will be “flipped off” accordingly.  If you return the flip, you’ll be shot.
  12. For summer driving, it is advisable to wear potholders on your hands.

Phoenix Sky Harbor ‘healthiest’ airport says magazine

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Phoenix Sky Harbor pet park

[Source: FoxNews.com] — …But it was Phoenix’s airport that really made an impression on the judges.  The building has two pet parks and recently added adult changing stations in bathrooms after a family with a disabled son made the suggestion.  According to Health Magazine, Sky Harbor’s bathrooms are “widely known as some of the nation’s cleanest.”  Sky Harbor also has several low-fat dining options: Take your pick of veggie burgers, vegetable burritos, or avocado cucumber sushi.

To develop the rankings, the magazine’s editors compared data about the nation’s leading airports from government reports, rating agencies, and other sources.  Here are the top 5 healthiest airports, according to Health Magazine:

  1. Phoenix Sky Harbor International (Arizona)
  2. BWI Thurgood Marshall (Maryland)
  3. O’Hare International (Chicago, Illinois)
  4. Detroit Metropolitan (Michigan)
  5. Denver International (Colorado)

Viewpoint: Will the Phoenix Coyotes become extinct?

[Source: Total Pro Sports, December 8, 2008] — With the economy headed for the second great depression, it seems only fitting that teams in the big four sports leagues (NBA, NHL, NFL, MLB) start filing for bankruptcy and suspend operations.  The NBA is already feeling this with arenas that are empty and ticket sales declining on a game to game basis.  Just take a look at the Memphis Grizzlies, Atlanta Hawks, and Sacramento Kings attendance decline.  The Phoenix Coyotes of the NHL are one of the teams headed for extinction, this year they are expected to lose anywhere from $25 to $35 million.  After seeing a slight increase in ticket sales in the beginning of the season the Coyotes have cooled down and ticket sales have dropped severely.

Two sources said [owner Jerry] Moyes is so eager to unload the Coyotes that he approached his former partner, Steve Ellman, about buying the team back wrote the Globe And Mail.  The Coyotes management has a different outlook on the economy and the future of the team.  “I am confident not only that hockey will be here in five years, but that we will be doing well in five years,” Coyotes governor and chief executive officer Jeff Shumway said, pointing to improved ticket and suite sales and fewer giveaways.  “We run a great franchise in a great sport, a sport we love.  And we’re in one of the fastest-growing markets in the U.S.”

Since 2001 the Phoenix Coyotes have lost more the $200 milliion, that’s $80 million more then the team was orginally purchased for.  What we still don’t understand is that day when the NHL commissioner decided to move the Winnipeg Jets to the Phoenix, Arizona area.  A city of Winnipeg that loves snow and ice to a city that averages 100+ degree weather.  Make sense?  Yes, the Jets were struggling in Winnipeg but we highly doubt they would be in such a financial crisis that the Coyotes are right now.

The problem with the Coyotes is that they play almost 25 minutes out of downtown Phoenix in Glendale, Arizona.  When you’re bringing a team into a new market, it’s best to situate the team in the downtown core.  Where big business can buy suites and season tickets for the business.  This would not end the financial crisis of the Coyotes, but it would eliminate some of the financial stress they are enduring right now.  The big-money guys, the corporate guys, don’t live in Glendale,” Paul Kelly (NHLPA Executive Director) said.  “If you live in Scottsdale, Glendale is not an easy place to get to.  That hurts them in the area like club seats and boxes.  You could see evidence of that the other night [at a Coyotes game].”

Reports now out of Phoenix is that they are seeking a loan from Citibank, but with all the banks problems in the United States it’s highly unlikely they will get approved.  So if anyone is interested Total Pro Sports is looking at putting together a group of investors to buy the Phoenix Coyotes.  We can probably buy them undervalued at about $85 million.  If anyone is interested please contact us…just kidding.  [Note: Updates: ESPN (12/23/08) and Globe and Mail (12/23/08).]

Where will be more more office space than downtown Phoenix? Why, Mesa (possibly)

[Gary Nelson, Mesa Republic] — Tens of thousands of jobs.  Millions of dollars in taxes.  Billions of dollars in salaries. The numbers flew like snowflakes in a blizzard Thursday as DMB Associates spelled out what it sees as the likely impact of its Mesa Proving Grounds project.   All well and good, the City Council said.  But they had one request: Put it in writing.  Councilman Scott Somers, who has worried aloud in several recent meetings about whether the project could deliver on its high-flying promises, said several sections of the Proving Grounds’ zoning ordinance should be rewritten to include those economic goals and how they’ll be met.  DMB attorney Grady Gammage Jr. agreed to do that.  The ordinance, still in draft stages, is expected to come before the council next month.

While talk about the possible impact of DMB’s project is nothing new, some of the numbers that came out on Thursday were.  DMB hired Valley economists Elliott Pollack and Alan Maguire to analyze the dollars-and-cents impact of its property in coming decades.  Here’s a sample of what they came up with, using a computer program developed by University of Minnesota economists:

  • At buildout, the 5 square miles is expected to have 20 million square feet of commercial space, 14.5 million square feet of which will be offices. There will be 4,000 hotel rooms, 1.2 million square feet of retail, 15,000 dwelling units with perhaps 37,500 residents and as many as 91,800 permanent jobs.
  • Construction on the entire site will create 116,497 “job years.”  A “job year” is enough work to keep one tradesman busy for a year.  Construction will generate $6.1 billion in total wages.
  • The city would collect $40 million a year in sales taxes and other revenue as the project reaches maturity.
  • Permanent jobs at buildout could generate $4.5 billion in annual wages.
  • The hospitality segment, headlined by the recently announced Gaylord resort, will generate 4,000 to 4,500 jobs with annual wages of $144 million to $162 million.
  • Total construction costs reaching $9.3 billion.

“This is a big deal,” Maguire told the council — echoing precisely the same words Mayor Scott Smith had used in council chambers only three days previously, when the council approved a new general plan for DMB’s land.  Maguire told The Mesa Republic that the numbers could be on the low side.  “All the analysis that was done was done relatively conservatively,” he said.  “These numbers are not sort of pie-in-the-sky numbers.”  

Gammage said the Mesa site is likely to build out with more office space than currently exists in downtown Phoenix and far more than the Scottsdale Airpark, which is hailed as one of the Valley’s economic successes.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]