With the proposed expansions in the Valley around the Rio Salado river, a new opportunity arises to develop and innovate infrastructure which will benefit many city stakeholders. One of the areas affected by this expansion is the South Mountain Village, which is located just southeast of ASU’s Tempe campus and is the focused location of this analysis. As it stands, South Mountain Village exhibits a lack luster transportation infrastructure. Underutilized paved asphalt lots, highly distressed and failing pavement as well as inadequate pedestrian modes of transportation are all examples of poor infrastructure in need of renovation. The Rio Salado 2.0 revitalization project provides necessary funding, resources and support of the surrounding community to make progressive changes to the transportation infrastructure of South Mountain. Proposed changes to the existing transportation infrastructure will ultimately encourage connectivity between modes of transportation.
The main objective of the transportation network for Rio Salado 2.0 would be to determine the location of a centralized rail extension within the bounds of the project area. The rail extension would have the capabilities of transporting commuters from the area to Phoenix where most daily activities, such as work occur. The rail extension will focus on being centralized to maximize the accessibility for commuters but will also be influenced by heavily populated areas. In addition, the extension will also be determined by researching the most frequently used transit paths currently. Taking all these factors into consideration, a location for the rail extension will be determined. Once this goal is accomplished, another sub goal is created which involves increasing the connectivity of the transportation system.
The overall connectivity of the system is an important goal when proposing a rail extension, because there must be ways for commuters to get to the rail system. To accomplish this goal, bus routes, bike paths, and walkability of transit will all be analyzed. The system will be connected by having bike paths and sidewalks lead to bus stops that will take commuters to the rail station. In addition, bike paths and sidewalks near the rail extension will lead directly to the station to make rides quicker. Another possible option is adding a bike-sharing program to increase connectivity of the system between lines, especially those that cannot afford the maintenance and upfront cost of a well-equipped bicycle. Also, this may be a cheaper solution, the idea of the bike-sharing connecting transit rail lines, compared to building connecting transit lines, which may take more time as well. Improving the overall connectivity of the system leads to another minor goal of the transportation network for the project area, which will include improving the quality of the system.
Currently, bike paths, sidewalks, and bus stops are unattractive and disincentives the use of non-automobile transportation because of the poor condition they are in. To promote transit use, the system must be safe and desirable to use. The bike paths should be protected in high traffic areas, adequate shading around the paths should be provided for hot summers, and the bike lanes should not abruptly end. In addition, sidewalks should be shaded and be constructed properly with no infrastructure issues, such as large cracks or breaks in the cement. In order to promote cycling, off road infrastructures will be explored along the Salt River and Western Canals. In addition, to increase overall connectivity the configuration of the roadways will need to be adjusted for additional bike lanes and sidewalks. However, it is important to conduct an analysis that configures the roadway to maintain the current level of service with automobile congestion.