Tempe City Council visits ASU, discusses transportation developments

Members of the Tempe City Council met with students at University Club on Monday to discuss various city planning items such as transportation and other plans that would affect students.

Members of the Tempe City Council met with students to discuss city planning items, including developments to local transportation that may directly impact students Monday.

Students questioned the necessity and efficiency of adding a streetcar to the light rail and Orbit systems. The car, which would run in a cyclical fashion around the areas of Tempe Town Lake, Mill Avenue and Apache Boulevard, would serve as a complementary connection to the pre-existing light rail system.

The city hopes the car would also run up to the Rio Salado district to offer increased access and development to the area surrounding the upcoming State Farm building, Mayor Mark Mitchell said.

Urban and environmental planning graduate student Alesha Sloan said she wondered how the car would ultimately make money, adding that she’d “rather take the Orbit and Flash because they are free.”

Mitchell said the council has not yet decided how the fares for the streetcar will be implemented.

“It’s (going to) start attracting people with a more urban lifestyle who don’t want to drive all the time,” said Vice Mayor Corey Woods.

Councilman Kolby Granville also discussed ways to make the city more bike friendly, which comes down to weighing the costs and benefits of their option

“We’re always looking for ways to do better,” Granville said. “What’s the new normal for bikes? Is it a physically protected barrier, a curb, a bump, a total separation from traffic?”

The council also discussed its plans to implement a bike-sharing program that will partner with the current system in place in Phoenix.

“If you come back to Tempe in five or seven years, it will be a nearly unrecognizable city from a bicycling standpoint,” Granville said.

Other items discussed included a proposal that would assign citations to adults caught smoking in a car holding one or more minors.

Also on the agenda was a discussion of the use of plastic bags in retail and the council’s efforts to ban this use.

However, this plan is blocked by a new state law prohibiting cities from enacting such bans.

The best the council can do, according to Mitchell, is “preserve its local control.” It can do this by making an effort to reach out to people voluntarily to increase knowledge of the benefits of reusable bags, Woods said.

The council also addressed early proposals to remove a Phoenix food tax as well as plans to enhance the city’s ability to bring veterans into the community after their service. The latter would partly consist of the development of housing facilities for female veterans and their families. 

The streetcar item and several more ideas will be further discussed at the next Tempe City Council meeting.

Reach the reporter at celina.jimenez@asu.edu or on Twitter @lina_lauren.

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