By Srianthi Perera

Lindsay Road is the only north-south artery in Gilbert that doesn’t have a traffic intersection. That may change in the future.

The town of Gilbert, working with Phoenix based Stanley Consultants, is conducting research to establish a traffic interchange at Lindsay Road and the 202 Santan Freeway.

The proposed interchange will provide access to the town’s Central Business District, where the master planned mixed use development of Rivulon, the Park Lucero business park and many healthcare facilities are located, in addition to several housing developments.

“This is a very significant undertaking for the town of Gilbert; we are still very much in the preliminary phase,” said Leah Hubbard Rhineheimer, assistant to the Town Manager, during an open house held recently at the Southeast Regional Library to provide project details and to solicit public comment.

The proposed interchange is expected to be ready around 2020, according to Rhineheimer.

The interchange is a necessity due to the population surge in Gilbert, which is the fourth largest city in the Phoenix metropolitan area, officials said. The town swelled from 5,717 in 1980 to 235,493 residents in 2014. Build out is anticipated to be in 2030, when about 305,000 residents are expected to call the town home.

Both Gilbert Road and Val Vista Drive, Gilbert’s other north-south arteries, currently carry 35,000 to 55,000 vehicles per day. The 2035 traffic projections show dramatic increases in both the east-west and north-south traffic, according to the town. The daily traffic volumes on Germann Road and Pecos Road are anticipated to nearly double, while the daily volumes on Gilbert Road and Val Vista Drive are anticipated to grow between 30% and 60%.

The proposed interchange will provide additional access to the area and relief to the adjacent interchanges and arterial roadways at Gilbert Road and Val Vista Drive, officials said.

The public’s response at the open house was mixed.

“I’d rather they didn’t do it because of the disruption,” said Michelle Scharenbroch, who lives a mile south of the intersection in question, in the Spectrum development. “But I understand that we’re growing like crazy and they have to do it. That’s why I want to find out both sides.”

Julie Graham, who works in a large medical organization in the area and uses the Val Vista Drive intersection to get on and off the freeway twice a day, said that she was relieved that the congestion would be reduced.

Stanley Consultants has identified four possible designs for the intersection with each functioning a little differently.

They are:

  1. The Diamond, where the ramps come into two signalized intersections, such as those on Santan Freeway.
  2. Diverging Diamond, where all of the ramps come in to a single signalized intersection and drivers await their turn for a green light. This design is present on Interstate 17 and State Route 51.
  3. Single-Point Urban, which passes over the northbound and southbound traffic right at the interchange, and give motorists free left turns (they don’t have to wait until light turns green).
  4. The Modified Diamond has normal ramps on the east side of Lindsey Road, but the Lindsey westbound entrance ramp is by Gilbert and the Gilbert westbound exit ramp is further east than it would normally be. The intent is to get traffic weaving; moving between the ramp and the changing lanes up on the frontage road instead of down on the freeway.

Jackie Noblitt, senior project manager at Stanley Consultants, said that one design is no better than another.

“None of the alternatives is terrible and none of them is head and shoulders above the rest,” she said, adding that public input was being solicited on the design.

Karl Matthew Rains, environmental group director at Logan Simpson, is looking at different technical resources, such as biology, noise and other sources of pollution in the area.

“We want to see whether there are any impacts between the different alternatives,” said Rains, adding that so far, the results of the investigations haven’t identified that any of the alternatives are significantly different.

Rains was initially concerned about the burrowing owl habitat on Zanjero Park, which is on the southeast corner of Lindsay Road and the 202 Freeway, but said that the birds won’t be affected.

Rhineheimer said that the Zanjero Park’s parking lot will have to be moved south to accommodate the widening of Lindsay Road.  The park itself, although it has a recreational focus and benefit, cannot be moved because its primary purpose is to contain storm water runoff from the SanTan Freeway, she noted.

Many area residents present at the open house were concerned about the increased traffic on Lindsay Road and how it would affect them.

Krista Bilsten, who bought a brand new home located off Lindsay Road in south Chandler, said she was taken aback.

“Lindsay has always been a neighborhood road, there’s not an exit off the US 60, there’s no exit off the north 202. That’s why I didn’t think it’ll ever be a possibility,” she said.

Bilsten is concerned about the neighborhood peace; already, as a resident of six months in the area, she has learned of four “bad accidents” there, she said.

“I like how quiet it is, and all the birds that fly over, and that it’s nice and calm and peaceful,” she said. “I’ve seen the numbers that show how many cars will be on Lindsey after this goes in. It makes me really sad.”

On the other side of the spectrum, there are individuals who will benefit monetarily from the intersection.

Mary Rooney used to own 10 acres in the area, has sold nine of them and clung to the remaining one since the 1980s. It hugs the northeast corner of the intersection.

“They can take it, at a good price,” she said. “I’m not living there anymore.”

To submit an online comment form (open until November 16) or sign up for project e-updates, visit ConnectingGilbert.com. Details: 480-898-4100