‘Legacy Loop’ bike, walking, horse trail proposed for Apache Junction

Dean Chambers of J2 Engineering and Environmental Design LLC, right, presented a working draft of an Active Transportation Plan at a joint meeting of the city’s planning and zoning and parks and recreation commissions. (Richard H. Dyer, Independent Newsmedia)

A report proposing a route of connected pedestrian and horse trails coined Legacy Loop and suggested thoroughfare alterations to accommodate bike lanes was presented to Apache Junction officials in an Oct. 9 public hearing.

The trail system for riding horses, walking and bicycling is part of an Active Transportation Plan being prepared by J2 Engineering and Environmental Design LLC for the city of Apache Junction. Plans show the Legacy Loop heads east and south on Bureau of Land Management open space land, through Siphon Draw, then northwest along the Central Arizona Project canal and north along Meridian Road.

“Apache Junction is in a great position to brand this and create signature designations… ‘Legends Loop,’ a loop around the city (to) connect the north and the east open space all the way around the city,” Dean Chambers of J2 said Oct. 9 during a public hearing at City Hall.

He presented a working draft of the plan at a joint meeting of the city’s planning and zoning and parks and recreation commissions.

“Name facilities, trailheads, trails, bike routes so people connect; that it’s not just a line on a map, that it has a name: The ‘Broadway Bike Route’ or … the ‘Old Apache Trail Trail,’” he said.

Larry Kirch

Funding for the plan’s preparation came from a Maricopa Association of Governments project with $160,000 in federal funds and $60,000 matched by the city of Apache Junction, according to Development Services Director Larry Kirch.

MAG provides regional planning and policy decisions for transportation, air quality, water quality and human services, according to azmag.gov.

In addition to identifying areas for a trail system, the report shows how Apache Trail and Superstition Boulevard can have a reduced number of lanes east and west to accommodate bike lanes.

Apache Trail could be reduced from three lanes in each direction to two, and crossing areas could be reduced and replaced with U-turn lanes. Superstition Boulevard could be reduced from two in each direction to one, Mr. Chambers said.
Too few vehicles are on those two roadways, he said.

“Superstition Boulevard is currently a four-lane street but is not projected to ever carry a large volume. Under 20,000 vehicles (a day) and lower, we can carry that in one lane each way and a two-way turn lane,” Mr. Chambers said.

Superstition Boulevard could be re-striped by the city of Apache Junction to add bike lanes, he said.

“Another one is Apache Trail. Currently it’s a six-lane and Old West Highway. The volume projections don’t support that it ever needs that since it’s no longer the cut-through highway, so that a four-lane section would carry the traffic volumes,” he said.
The median would also be reduced in size, he said.

Tess Nesser, planning commission chairwoman, said the Apache Trail median is a flood-control area.

“How you narrowed the median … I like the looks of that, but the median we have now down the Trail, the purpose is for water-retention and floods,” she said.

Before work is done on Apache Trail, drainage issues on the north side need to be taken care of, Mr. Chambers said.

“There’s still the floodplain on the north side of Apache Trail and that flood plain and flooding has to be solved upstream,” he said.

Judy Borey, parks and recreation commissioner, asked if reducing the Apache Trail’s median size would hurt Apache Junction’s ability to someday have light-rail transportation.

Valley Metro Light Rail is being constructed on Main Street and Mesa Drive east to Gilbert Road in Mesa, according to valleymetro.org/project/gilbert-road-extension.

“At one time there was a plan to connect down through that median to the light rail,” Ms. Borey said.

“Current plans, it’s not on the plan that I know of and so we didn’t accommodate that in any of the planning documents,” Mr. Chambers said.

“Some light rail, it’s still in the middle of the street,” Development Services Director Kirch said, adding that a 16-foot-wide Apache Trail median is planned.

“Within that cross-section for downtown, even with the 16-foot, you probably could do light rail,” he said. “So we don’t want to do something that would cost us later to tear it out later. We do want to plan for that,” he said.

Remaining public meetings on the Active Transportation Plan or places information will be passed out include:

  • 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15, at the City Council work session in the Council Chambers, 300 E. Superstition Blvd.
  • 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, at Festival of the Superstitions, at the city tent at Flatiron Community Park, 180 N. Apache Trail.
  • 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14, at a community informational meeting at the Apache Junction Multi-generational Center, 1035 N. Idaho Road.
  • 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 8, at a public hearing and vote at a joint Apache Junction Parks and Recreation Commission and Apache Junction Planning and Zoning Commission meeting in the Council Chambers 300 E. Superstition Blvd.
  • 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15, at a public hearing and tentative adoption at an Apache Junction City Council meeting in the Council Chambers, 300 E. Superstition Blvd.

For more information, contact the Development Services Department at 480-474-5083 or go to ajcity.net/active.

Editor Richard Dyer can be reached at rdyer@newszap.com

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