NAIOP Arizona Hosts Webinar on the Future of Transportation and Infrastructure

The Arizona Chapter of NAIOP hosted a webinar recently to educate members on plans for new roads and freeways, Valley Metro Rail extensions and infrastructure needed to accommodate continued growth.

Markus Coleman, Light Rail Administrator for the City of Phoenix; Tim Strow, Transportation Policy and Planning Director for the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG); and Eric Whitehurst, Engineer at Kimley-Horn, provided insights and analysis of regional transportation and infrastructure projects. Phil Breidenbach of Colliers International moderated the conversation.

Strow gave an update about projects underway in MAG’s 27 jurisdictions. He highlighted several high-priority projects designed to alleviate traffic congestion, accommodate the 80,000 to 100,000 people who are moving into Maricopa County each year, enhance safety for all motorists, and keep freight moving through the region.

“Interstate 10 and Interstate 17, I consider those the backbone of Arizona’s economy,” Strow said. “We have to make sure that we keep I-10 and I-17 moving so they’re safe and efficient for goods movement and people commuting to work.”

The I-10 Broadway Curve improvements are a critical part of this strategy. This project is projected to take about three years.

Strow explained that the continuation of the half cent sales tax, which expires in 2025, and the development of the next regional transportation plan are priorities for MAG.

Coleman gave an update on the future of light rail and highlighted several important projects.

The planned I-10 West extension will provide access to the West Valley. The Capitol extension will connect riders from Phoenix City Hall to other government buildings and the state Capitol complex.

The Northwest extension Phase II will include a bridge over I-17 and the first elevated station. This project is currently under construction.

The South-Central Phoenix/Downtown Hub extension promises to bring new transit options to residents of South Phoenix.

“With the extensions we have planned now in the City of Phoenix,” Coleman explained, “we’ll be able to go from just one single light rail line to an east-west configuration which will make us act and function more like a true light rail system.”

The program concluded with a private sector perspective provided by Whitehurst.

“Large, regional transportation [projects] and vehicular corridors really begin to drive regional development plans,” according to Whitehurst. He cited the Loop 303 as an example of a project that took a long time to come to fruition but is now driving private development of distribution and fulfillment centers.

Challenges for private developers come when there are multiple municipalities involved and large patches of unincorporated land. Access challenges still exist outside the major freeways. Private developers look at what road alignments have already been planned and how easy it is to access the final mile to the land they want to develop.

Colliers International and Commercial Executive Magazine sponsored this special event, which is part of NAIOP Arizona’s quarterly Market Leader Series.