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City unveils draft plan for redevelopment of busy intersection
Under a proposed redevelopment for the area around the 4th Avenue-16th Street intersection, long awaited improvements to the roadway are scheduled to be made by mid-2014.
“Finally” was the consensus of the some two dozen people who attended an open house held Tuesday evening to gather public comment on the plan.
Improvements to the intersection have long been sought but remained in limbo over the years while traffic has become ever busier and investment in the area has lagged.
Over the last several months, several property owners along the city's central corridor have participated in a project area committee working with city officials to come up with the redevelopment plan.
The end goal is to enhance the 16th Street and 4th Avenue area's position as a vibrant commercial and employment area through public and private investment.
A key element of the plan is to fix the major intersection “that is failing terribly in terms of traffic flow,” said Charles Flynn, head of the community's ongoing North End redevelopment effort that has been extended to include the intersection and surrounding area.
The redevelopment plan calls for adding dual left turn lanes at all four corners of the intersection as well as right turn lanes. He said construction is anticipated to start in the spring of 2014 and be completed by that fall to avoid Yuma's busy winter season.
The left turns will be wide enough to allow for “U” turns to provide access to businesses along the roadways, Flynn said.
If adopted by the council, the plan will provide a blueprint of the roadway improvements for property owners so they know where their access will be and can plan accordingly, Flynn said.
He also noted that the city has all the rights-of-way it will need for the improvements either through property purchases it has already made or will acquire through land swaps.
This is progress, noted Pat Conner, a member of the property owners advisory committee, saying the intersection has always been a “nightmare.”
Johnny Grable, too, welcomes improvements to the intersection, the first impression travelers off Interstate 8 get of the city — an impression that now may well send them back to the highway.
They're both also hopeful other parts of the “tool kit” the city is developing to encourage private investment in the area will help property owners who want to improve or redevelop their property.
Any such improvements by the private sector will be voluntary, said Dave Fackler, a consultant on the project. But the goal is to provide a hospitable environment for private investment for those who do want to make improvements or change their property use.
Currently, of the 275 properties surveyed within the area, 169 were rated “in need of rehabilitation” to “substandard.”
Fackler said an effort is being made to identify what can be done with the properties and what the city can do to help revitalize them.
“There is general agreement something needs to be done.”
The redevelopment plan can be accessed on the city's website at http://yumaaz.gov/news_27801. Click on the proposed redevelopment plan link.