Park And Ride to Nowhere

KPHO CBS5’s Heather Moore [Facebook, Twitter]  posted this story yesterday. One peripheral fact that was left out is that this parking lot is in the “runway protected zone. The RPZ designation prohibits any structures from being built which will be occupied for any length of time, due to potential hazards from arriving or departing aircraft. Thus, a parking lot is probably the best use we could ever have for it.

That notwithstanding, I’ve for years scratched my head at these million-dollar make-work projects, many of which are transportation related, like Scottsdale’s proliferation of unwanted roundabouts. Loloma is a classic example, too.

Scottsdale spends $8.5M for Park and Ride with no riders


The Scottsdale Park and Ride has shade, seating and space for nearly 300 vehicles.

Billed as a leading example of sustainability, it also features a solar panel roof, previous pavement and an aviation-themed design.

Despite its features, when you pull into the lot at the southeast corner of Thunderbird and Scottsdale roads, it’s clear something is missing.

On a daily basis, less than a handful of cars can be counted in the parking lot.

Every few minutes buses stop and open their doors, but almost no one gets on or off.

“It’s very nice but I mean not many people use it,” a rare passenger told CBS 5 Investigates.

The price tag for the pristine parking lot is $8.5 million, plus another $700 a month to keep the lights on and maintenance.

“There’s nothing extraordinary about this but the cost,” said Scottsdale resident Murray Sharkey, who said he is outraged.

The engineer said he believes taxpayer dollars would be better spent on badly needed teachers or public safety.

“It’s a monument to failure. It’s a monument to waste,” Sharkey told CBS 5 Investigates.

Part of the problem is the pristine parking lot isn’t new.

It was completed last year and Valley Metro tells CBS 5 Investigates it won’t be hooked up to their rapid transit LINK route for another two years.

“With transportation and with public projects, we always need to look into the future,” said Paul Basha, the transportation director for the city of Scottsdale.

Basha explains the money for the project came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. It was earmarked for transportation and a deadline was attached. The city had to use it or lose it.

“Those funds needed to be utilized within an eight-month period from the time of a decision,” Basha told CBS 5 Investigates.

Sharkey adamantly disagrees. He said that “use it or lose it” mentality is why many people are fed up with government. He believes the city should have passed on the project, so that the money went back to the feds to be used for a project that’s truly needed.

“Better off losing it because it’s not going to be wasted. Look at this, is this not a waste?” Sharkey asked.

Park and Rides like the busy lot at Shea Boulevard and State Route 51 are typically strategically placed to accommodate the most riders.

In 2003, after a thorough investigation, the Maricopa Association of Governments identified more than 10 possible locations for a Scottsdale Park and Ride.

The site at Thunderbird and Scottsdale was not one of them.

“The Scottsdale Thunderbird location was selected primarily because it was city-owned property. It was owned by the airport,” Basha said.

The city of Scottsdale paid the airport $2 million, essentially paying itself.

Sharkey said he fears the spot will end up just like the Loloma Transit Center, which was built as a gateway to Old Town Scottsdale and is now shut down.

In 2011, city Transit Supervisor Madeline Clemann was quoted as saying, “Over time, it didn’t turn out to its potential.”

“This is not a useful project, never will be a useful project, was not planned to be a useful project,” Sharkey said.

A Valley Metro spokeswoman told CBS 5 Investigates the company is still in the operations and planning stages but they hope to have the LINK route connected to the park and ride by April of 2016.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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  1. A community garden would have been good at this site. Would have saved thousands in fertilizer by having a place to spread the BS that City Hall and City staff create.

  2. Ten locations are identified for a Park and Ride. This location was not one of them. The city in effect paid itself $2 million for this underused location. Maybe a handful of people use it. It is NOT connected to LINK, and won’t be until 2016. So $8.5 million dollars was used for what purpose?

    The other ten locations are where exactly? Why was not one of them selected? I bet you that if one of them was selected, we would have a greater use of it. Heck, it may have even been a talking point when all this light rail discussion gets ignited again.

    1. Basha is retread that “retired” & could not make it in the private sector. He is a double dipper. Basha said other sites “were not affordable”. He also said “taxpayers don’t understand” when building roundabouts.

      Welcome to Scottsdale….the land of 1000X’s over the reward to your political contributors.

  3. You mean they forgot to include the lights in the 8.5 million? Wasn’t there a bus station in downtown Scottsdale that was closed several years ago? I seem to remember driving by and never even seeing buses there. And this I think was before Lane and gang.

    1. Yes, Loloma transit center (referenced in the article), which is being demolished to make way for the equally brilliant and far more costly “Museum of the West…which has the Mayor’s fingerprints all over it.

  4. Beth Duckett reported today that the city paid 13 Million for the Northsight extension, roundabout. Did that include the most unusual statute of high divers in the middle of the round about?? Who authorized that unique public art? Sure hope no low flying planes take off the top of the statute. This is close to the Impact church site where the high rise apartments will be built. Hopefully, Fritz Behring will be able to reign in these city big spenders.

  5. I have a great idea for that spot: Build a large indoor mall with no strong anchor and men’s stores selling $500 shirts while corn dog carts park next to their doors. As an added attraction, have a beautiful water display every hour. They could call it “Son of Galleria.”

    Hmmmmm…..on second thought, maybe not.

  6. I go by this lot daily around 10AM and 3PM, only once have I seen more than three cars in the lot. Then one day five vehicles! I could hardly wait to hear Basha start crowing about the 66% increase in use, but after a second look, on truck was a city truck an the other car was the Metro drivers wife bring him lunch.
    It is a shame that our city staff has no respect for taxpayers funds. Whether the city gets the funds from the Feds or internally, the taxpayers have to earn those funds. This is not forward thinking, it is a wasteful make work project.

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