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
SCOTTSDALE, AZ (CBS5) –
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.
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