Mill Ave. traffic 'cutters' irk Tempe neighborhood, police

By Bob Petrie

The Arizona Republic

Nov. 26, 2002

Related link How bad is Valley traffic? View traffic cams and talk on our message boards

Heavy traffic on weekends along the new, narrower Mill Avenue through downtown Tempe has impatient drivers cutting through nearby neighborhoods, angering residents and causing police and street officials to look for ways to fix the problem.

"It gets pretty brutal sometimes," said David Lucier, 54, who lives in the Maple-Ash neighborhood, which is getting the brunt of the traffic.

Urged by downtown businesses, the city last month narrowed Mill Avenue from four to two lanes between Rio Salado Parkway and University Drive and brought back on-street parking for the first time in a decade.

But neighbors are worried because the area is bracing for seasonal events including the Christmas Fantasy of Lights that starts Saturday and the Tempe Festival of the Arts, Dec. 6-8.

The city plans to make traffic counts next week to check out how bad the problem is. Possible solutions include retiming traffic signals to increase flow on Mill Avenue and banning turns into Maple-Ash at peak times. But some say heavy traffic is inevitable on Mill.

"Downtown is hopping, it's full of pedestrians, it's full of cars, it's full of everything," said Glenn Kephart, Tempe public works director.

Rod Keeling, executive director of the Downtown Tempe Community, which pushed for the Mill Avenue changes, says that the cut-through problem is not really new.

"The cars need to be counted, so we can be talking about facts rather than opinions," Keeling said.

Reach the reporter at or (602) 444-7941.

the webmaster notes: its not the people in traffic taking short cuts that are causing the problems. its the idiots in tempe government who fucked things up make turning mill avenue from a buzy four lane street to a narrow two lane street.

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