Annual trip to Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe

I have lots of family who live in the Phoenix Valley in southern Arizona. I take a trip out there annually to visit, usually around Thanksgiving or Christmas. I’ll be leaving in a week and I haven’t yet planned what I’m going to do. Neither of my siblings will be coming at the same time (odd), so I’m going to have a lot of me time. I know the Phoenix area has had some of the worst foreclosures and job losses in the country, and maybe I can try to find visual, apparent indications of this (not sure how, though).

I’ll have a car, a bike, or a light rail train!

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So far, I’m thinking of these things:

  • Photoshoot of the construction of the new Bombardier People Mover at the PHX SkyHarbor airport. When the light rail opened last year in December (see my photos), the connection between the Valley Metro station at Washington and 44th and the northern terminal of the people mover was this disconnected, unadorned viaduct. I hear construction has progressed at a steady rate on the $1 billion, 1 mile system (keep in mind that the entire light rail system of 20 miles cost $1.4 billion to construct).
  • Visit the Phoenix Trolley Museum. I found this just now through someone’s Flickr photostream next to a photo of the people mover construction area. I’ve never heard of the place, and I don’t know anything about it right now, but it has at least one train, so why not go!
  • Visit Tucson! I’ve heard that the University of Arizona, Tucson campus, is very bike friendly (my former coworker, Christy, studied there). The Tucson Bike Lawyer keeps everyone apprised of the local comings and goings. The city is a 2.5 hour drive so I can easily handle it by myself in a day (or perhaps my dad or one of my cousins would come with). I don’t know what there is to do, but I get a lot of joy from walking and taking photos.
  • Lastly, I’m thinking of visiting Los Angeles. I’ve never been to L.A. and I want to go to test ride a bike I’ve recently started researching. I still have a big soft spot for Dutch bicycles, but the Yuba Mundo has caught my eye as a bike that can handle just as much cargo, costs less, and I can customize it with many Dutch bike attributes (like internal gearing, brakes, and dynamo-powered lighting). A Chinatown bus is $60 roundtrip, but the duration is 6 hours. Also, Amtrak no longer serves Phoenix but does stop in “nearby” Maricopa (not the county).

If you live around here and want to show me something neat, I am interested.

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About Steven Vance

Enthusiast for urbanism, bicycling as transportation, and open data. Building a bicycle culture in Chicago.
  • http://www.phxrailfood.com David Bickford

    Steven,

    I picked up this post via a Google alert I have for blog activity about light rail in Phoenix. I'll try to give you some feedback on some of the items mentioned above:

    – To see construction of PHX SkyTrain first hand, I recommend the following: Take light rail to 44th St. / Washington and transfer to the southbound 44 bus. As it goes south along 44th St., you'll see construction everywhere since part of 44th St. is being converted to the guideway for the SkyTrain. The bus turns around at University Drive, so just stay on (if the driver will let you) and come back north. Once back at 44th / Washington, then take the airport shuttle bus to Terminal 4. There, transfer to the Roadrunner bus, which will take you over to East Economy parking. Walk around the lot a little (although not too much lest you be mistaken for a car thief) and you'll see where the guideway is being threaded between the two parking garages. It's a lot of transfers on a lot of buses, but you'll get the closest possible view of the construction.

    – Phoenix Trolley Museum. It's small, but worth a visit. It would combine nicely with a visit to the Phoenix Art Museum, which is a short distance away.

    – Foreclosures and economic distress. Residential foreclosures are more prevalent on the suburban fringes, far from light rail. In the core of the city, real estate has held its own a little better. Nevertheless, from light rail you can see some examples of big projects stalled due to evaporation of financing. Key examples: the unfinished CenterPoint condo towers in Tempe, the Hotel Monroe in Downtown Phoenix, and the Chateaux on Central development in Midtown Phoenix. Of course, you'll also see some TOD success stories like the new apartment complexes going up along Apache Boulevard in Tempe.

    – Finally, you mention an interest in being shown something neat by locals. My schedule is tight due to a newborn at home and relatives in town, but I might have time for a lunch or a cappuccino at some point. I can also try to put you in touch with others who might have more flexible schedules and could guide you a bit more. Find my email on my blog and contact me that way if interested.

  • http://www.phxrailfood.com David Bickford

    If someone else is doing the driving, you can easily see the construction by driving along 44th St. between Washington St. and University Drive. It would be pretty dangerous to try it if you are driving, because the traffic moves fast and weaves around all sorts of construction barriers. You can also drive into the East Economy parking lot and garages and see things from that angle, but you'll have to pay a few dollars in parking fees.

  • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

    Those sound like great directions to get a good view of the PHX people mover. Do you think I can do the same thing if I'm in a car or being driven? My dad might accompany me (or drive me).

    View my Arizona photos to see where I've already gone.

    I'll let you know about meeting with you or anyway – I have to mesh part of my schedule with that of like 10 other family members.

  • Pingback: Steven can plan – Improving bicycling to airports

  • http://www.phxrailfood.com David Bickford

    Steven,

    I picked up this post via a Google alert I have for blog activity about light rail in Phoenix. I’ll try to give you some feedback on some of the items mentioned above:

    – To see construction of PHX SkyTrain first hand, I recommend the following: Take light rail to 44th St. / Washington and transfer to the southbound 44 bus. As it goes south along 44th St., you’ll see construction everywhere since part of 44th St. is being converted to the guideway for the SkyTrain. The bus turns around at University Drive, so just stay on (if the driver will let you) and come back north. Once back at 44th / Washington, then take the airport shuttle bus to Terminal 4. There, transfer to the Roadrunner bus, which will take you over to East Economy parking. Walk around the lot a little (although not too much lest you be mistaken for a car thief) and you’ll see where the guideway is being threaded between the two parking garages. It’s a lot of transfers on a lot of buses, but you’ll get the closest possible view of the construction.

    – Phoenix Trolley Museum. It’s small, but worth a visit. It would combine nicely with a visit to the Phoenix Art Museum, which is a short distance away.

    – Foreclosures and economic distress. Residential foreclosures are more prevalent on the suburban fringes, far from light rail. In the core of the city, real estate has held its own a little better. Nevertheless, from light rail you can see some examples of big projects stalled due to evaporation of financing. Key examples: the unfinished CenterPoint condo towers in Tempe, the Hotel Monroe in Downtown Phoenix, and the Chateaux on Central development in Midtown Phoenix. Of course, you’ll also see some TOD success stories like the new apartment complexes going up along Apache Boulevard in Tempe.

    – Finally, you mention an interest in being shown something neat by locals. My schedule is tight due to a newborn at home and relatives in town, but I might have time for a lunch or a cappuccino at some point. I can also try to put you in touch with others who might have more flexible schedules and could guide you a bit more. Find my email on my blog and contact me that way if interested.

    • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

      Those sound like great directions to get a good view of the PHX people mover. Do you think I can do the same thing if I’m in a car or being driven? My dad might accompany me (or drive me).

      View my Arizona photos to see where I’ve already gone.

      I’ll let you know about meeting with you or anyway – I have to mesh part of my schedule with that of like 10 other family members.

      • http://www.phxrailfood.com David Bickford

        If someone else is doing the driving, you can easily see the construction by driving along 44th St. between Washington St. and University Drive. It would be pretty dangerous to try it if you are driving, because the traffic moves fast and weaves around all sorts of construction barriers. You can also drive into the East Economy parking lot and garages and see things from that angle, but you’ll have to pay a few dollars in parking fees.

  • http://www.phxrailfood.com David Bickford

    Steven,

    I picked up this post via a Google alert I have for blog activity about light rail in Phoenix. I'll try to give you some feedback on some of the items mentioned above:

    – To see construction of PHX SkyTrain first hand, I recommend the following: Take light rail to 44th St. / Washington and transfer to the southbound 44 bus. As it goes south along 44th St., you'll see construction everywhere since part of 44th St. is being converted to the guideway for the SkyTrain. The bus turns around at University Drive, so just stay on (if the driver will let you) and come back north. Once back at 44th / Washington, then take the airport shuttle bus to Terminal 4. There, transfer to the Roadrunner bus, which will take you over to East Economy parking. Walk around the lot a little (although not too much lest you be mistaken for a car thief) and you'll see where the guideway is being threaded between the two parking garages. It's a lot of transfers on a lot of buses, but you'll get the closest possible view of the construction.

    – Phoenix Trolley Museum. It's small, but worth a visit. It would combine nicely with a visit to the Phoenix Art Museum, which is a short distance away.

    – Foreclosures and economic distress. Residential foreclosures are more prevalent on the suburban fringes, far from light rail. In the core of the city, real estate has held its own a little better. Nevertheless, from light rail you can see some examples of big projects stalled due to evaporation of financing. Key examples: the unfinished CenterPoint condo towers in Tempe, the Hotel Monroe in Downtown Phoenix, and the Chateaux on Central development in Midtown Phoenix. Of course, you'll also see some TOD success stories like the new apartment complexes going up along Apache Boulevard in Tempe.

    – Finally, you mention an interest in being shown something neat by locals. My schedule is tight due to a newborn at home and relatives in town, but I might have time for a lunch or a cappuccino at some point. I can also try to put you in touch with others who might have more flexible schedules and could guide you a bit more. Find my email on my blog and contact me that way if interested.

  • http://www.phxrailfood.com David Bickford

    If someone else is doing the driving, you can easily see the construction by driving along 44th St. between Washington St. and University Drive. It would be pretty dangerous to try it if you are driving, because the traffic moves fast and weaves around all sorts of construction barriers. You can also drive into the East Economy parking lot and garages and see things from that angle, but you'll have to pay a few dollars in parking fees.

  • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

    Those sound like great directions to get a good view of the PHX people mover. Do you think I can do the same thing if I'm in a car or being driven? My dad might accompany me (or drive me).

    View my Arizona photos to see where I've already gone.

    I'll let you know about meeting with you or anyway – I have to mesh part of my schedule with that of like 10 other family members.

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