Residents of El Lago Boulevard were back at the Town Council meeting on June 4 to continue airing their concerns about traffic safety on their street.
El Lago Boulevard is a wide street that runs from Panorama Drive on the east side of Fountain Park to Palisades Boulevard at the top of the hill to the west. Between Fountain Hills Boulevard and Palisades, El Lago is lined with single family residential homes.
Jan Parisian, a resident in the area, asked that the town change the roadway classification as a collector street, meaning several other streets feed into it and lead to arterial streets such as Fountain Hills and Palisades boulevards.
The street categories are based on standards established by the Federal Highway Administration and it is unclear whether the council would have any authority to make such a change.
Parisian said neighbors also want the speed limit reduced to 25 miles per hour and speed bumps installed.
Town Manager Grady Miller told the residents that the town’s reaction to this point has been to ask the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office to prioritize patrols in the area and placement of a mobile speed sign to remind motorists of their speed.
Miller said staff would organize a meeting or open house session for the public to discuss ideas and options at a future date.
Public Works Director Justin Weldy told The Times an option might be to narrow the street, which is something the town has had in mind for several of the boulevards that were constructed with wide rights-of-way. He said such an option would be fairly expensive and likely require voter-approved bonding to fund such a project.
Another resident, Frank Dolittle said enforcement by MCSO simply is not adequate.
“When you talk to them, law enforcement doesn’t seem to think there is anything wrong,” Dolittle said.
Mayor Ginny Dickey said she and staff have been meeting with MCSO leadership, looking at steps to address the concerns.
Just last week MCSO issued a release stating for the third straight month MCSO had increased traffic stops initiated as part of a safety program.
“Deputies made 1,922 traffic stops during May…a nearly 70 percent increase since January 2019 and 44 percent increase over the 1,357 stops made in May of 2018,” the statement says.
At the end of last year Sheriff Paul Penzone began a review of patrol-related traffic enforcement activity and performance. As a result of the review, he restructured staff and resources to improve capacity for traffic-related enforcement.
MCSO Lt. Jon Halverson, deputy commander for District 7 in Fountain Hills, said the district is slated to receive additional manpower that will enhance their ability for traffic enforcement.
Halverson reported that in District 7, deputies made more than 500 traffic stops from February through April this year. The number increased from 114 in February to 205 in April.
“As we work to improve all our services, we are focused on effective traffic enforcement in areas most adversely impacted by aggressive driving,” Penzone said. “We will continue our efforts to promote safe driving habits and safe roadways.”