Raintree project in Scottsdale Airpark could start in 2016

Construction on a $39 million project to improve traffic flow in the Scottsdale Airpark could begin in 2016, two years later than earlier estimates.

The Raintree Drive extension project will forge a better and more direct connection along Raintree between Scottsdale Road and Loop 101, project officials said.

The improvements, which call for roundabouts at five intersections, would help relieve gridlock along busy Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard and other congested areas of the Airpark.

The upgrades would be built in four segments starting in 2016.

Plans call for such improvements as bikes lanes, sidewalks, public art and roundabouts at these intersections: 73rd Street and Thunderbird Road; 76th Place and Redfield Road; Hayden Road and Raintree; 82nd Street and Raintree; and Northsight Boulevard and Raintree.

In addition, California artist Phillip K. Smith III has designed a 52-foot-tall sculpture and native-plant collages for the center of the roundabouts.

The iconic vertical sculpture would serve as a beacon at Raintree and Hayden roundabout, according to Scottsdale Public Art.

The other roundabouts will have plant collages in the middle.

Kirstin Van Cleef, outreach and temporary projects manager for Scottsdale Public Art, said crews will install the artwork in phases to coincide with the roadwork.

The design could finish next fall, she said.

The first segment of the improvements, which includes the sculpture, would be built within a year after that, Van Cleef said.

Construction timeline

The Scottsdale City Council recently signed off on a $1.44 million contract for engineering services with Aecom Technical Services.

The California-based company will produce final construction documents for a first stretch of the project, from Scottsdale to Hayden roads.

City project officials provided an updated construction schedule. The tentative outline shows when and where improvements would be built along the road segments:

Fall 2016 to fall 2017: Hayden and Redfield roads to 73rd Street and Thunderbird Road.

Winter 2016 to winter 2017: Hayden Road and Raintree Drive to 76th Place and Redfield.

Winter 2018 to winter 2019: Northsight Boulevard and Raintree Drive to Hayden Road and Raintree.

Winter 2019 to winter 2020: Northsight Boulevard and Raintree Drive to 87th Street and Raintree.

Previous estimates showed construction occurring from summer 2014 to fall 2018.

The cost for design and construction is approximately $39 million, project officials said.

Funds from Proposition 400, a half-percent transportation sales tax approved by voters in 2004, will reimburse 70 percent of the cost.

Revenue from a city transportation tax and other funds will cover the remainder.

Congestion ease expected

City officials said the project will improve drivingin the Airpark on both sides of the Scottsdale Airport.

The airpark is Scottsdale’s main employment center. The region around the Frank Lloyd Wright, Hayden and Loop 101 interchange is one of the most congested areas in Scottsdale, officials said.

Currently there are 3 miles betweenCactus Road and Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard that lack an east-west street connection between Scottsdale Road and the Loop 101.

The project aims to curb traffic volumes on Cactus Road, Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard and Thunderbird Road.

The project is an alternative to a more expensive route calling for a tunnel beneath the airport runway.

The tunnel project would have been more disruptive and cost approximately $75 million, city officials said.

Article source: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/scottsdale/2014/12/02/raintree-drive-extension-scottsdale-airpark-start/19778935/