City council discusses drones, light rail and more over summer

light rail capitol spur
The South Central and capitol light rail spurs were one of the topics Phoenix City Council focused on over the summer.

While Downtown Devil took the summer off and reporters returned home, Phoenix City Council continued to work through the hot summer days, going about their normal business. Here are a few of the important projects City Council has been working on:

Third and Fifth Avenue street changes

Alternative street plans were laid out by the City of Phoenix Transportation Department in regards to Third and Fifth Avenue modifications.

The alternatives were created after the city received criticism from multiple residents concerned with increased traffic along both avenues.

The first alternative enhances existing plans, which would not change much from the original design, keeping both streets one-way with a single one-way bike lane.

A modified one-way street was also suggested, which would make one general purpose lane with turn lanes as needed, as well as an added buffer zone for the bike lane.

The city’s preferred alternative would be the same traffic orientation (Third Avenue northbound, Fifth Avenue southbound) as the modified one-way street north of Roosevelt Street.

Both streets would be turned into two-way streets with added street parking on Fifth Avenue and an “innovative, enhanced bicycle treatment” on Third Avenue, according to the city’s Alternative Evaluation Summary.

McKinley Street land sale

Two empty lots between Second and Third avenues were sold by the city to a real estate developer, MetroWest Development LLC, in late June.

The east lot will have six townhomes built on the site, while the west lot will have an apartment complex with around 90 apartments.

The city expects that once construction is completed, there will be housing for an estimated 200 residents. The city will be paid $570,000 for both lots.

Drone Ordinance Amendment

An amendment was passed to clarify the legal uses of drones for civilian and government operations by the Phoenix City Council.

According to the Phoenix City Council agenda, the purpose of the ordinance is to promote commerce and innovation while protecting privacy, civil rights and civil liberties in the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), such as drones. The ordinance would control how drones are used, and how they can be used in emergencies and as punishments for violations.

RELATED: Drone regulations to protect public’s privacy, safety working through City Council

The amendment added five prohibited uses of drones, the punishment for violating these, a large list of acceptable uses of drones and the use of drones during emergencies. The amendment had been brought up repeatedly in council meetings since December 2 before it passed on May 18.

Light Rail Extensions

The South Central and capitol light rail spurs have seen progress in construction over the summer.

The South Central light rail spur’s environmental analysis was completed by the Federal Transportation Administration mid-June. The environmental analysis is expected to be completed by this fall for the capitol light rail spur, as part of the Phoenix Transportation 2050 plan. The spur is scheduled to be completed by 2023.

The City of Phoenix is leading the coordination with Valley Metro and major community partners such as Raza Development Fund, LISC Arizona, Local First Arizona/Fuerza Local, Chicanos Por La Causa, Friendly House, Promise Arizona and Esperitu.

They are pursuing funding from FTA’s Transit Oriented Development planning program to lessen the financial burden on business that may be economically challenged during the construction of the South Central Spur.

Correction: August 30, 2016:

A previous version of this story misstated the one-way traffic directions of Third and Fifth avenues. It has been updated to show their correct directions.

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