E. Circulation & Connectivity Element

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Maricopa strives for an integrated, citywide, regional, and multi-modal transportation system that is safe, functional and integrated with smart city practices. The Circulation Element is intended to guide the development of a citywide multi-modal transportation system integrated with, and in support of the land use element. Over the next 20 years, travel in the Maricopa planning area will dramatically increase proportionately with anticipated population growth in the region. In support of sustainable growth and economic development, the City’s circulation system will need to keep pace.

The circulation system is the backbone of the City, supporting the economy and serving and influencing land use patterns in a positive way. Maricopa has grown using the automobile as the primary mode of transportation, as most all cities in the Southwestern United States. The automobile will continue as the primary mode of transportation, but there is an increasing emphasis on alternatives to the personal automobile for transportation, such as public transit, bicycling, and walking. This element is a guide for planning and implementing alternative modes of travel to afford greater accessibility for residents and visitors, mitigate congestion and pollution, and support a more efficient and sustainable land use pattern. Transition to a more complete multi-modal transportation system requires an integrated land use and transportation planning approach. The planned transportation system shall support the City’s vision for a land use pattern with concentrated mixed-use Village Centers and neighborhoods. Transportation access is the heart of a successful mixed-use development pattern, where more intense growth occurs around major roadways and transit facilities.

Sections of this Element:

  1. Introduction
  2. Regional Connections & Roadways
  3. Pedestrian & Bicycle Circulation
  4. Transit
  5. Circulation Plan

The City of Maricopa adopted a Transportation Master Plan in 2015 to serve as the long–range transportation plan for the City and greater planning area. The Maricopa Transportation Master Plan is a multi-modal plan for transportation facilities and services and a guide for strategic multi-modal transportation investment decisions over the long term. The plan directly responds to and provides guidance for implementing the 2040 Vision Strategic Plan and is reflected in this General Plan element.

Interactive (GIS) Map

Interactive (GIS) Map

1. Introduction

In the Maricopa area, the vast majority of all trips are made by automobile and most of this travel is on two State highways, a County highway, and a series of section line roads. The transportation system serving Maricopa is and will continue to be challenged by substantial physical constraints such as major drainage features and the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR), Indian land, and mountain ranges along the western edge of the planning area. There are also non-physical constraints to developing a regional roadway network. Previously approved planned community zoning applications in Maricopa and the greater planning area precede the regional transportation plans now in existence. In some cases, prior zoning approvals do not adequately address regional transportation needs and/or compatible land uses.

Since the adoption of Maricopa’s first General Plan in 2006, a number of local and regional transportation planning efforts have occurred. The I-8 and I-10 Hidden Valley Transportation Framework Study prepared by MAG through a collaborative effort of local jurisdictions and ADOT, established a plan for future major routes to serve western Pinal County and southwestern Maricopa County. The Hidden Valley Framework Study along with Pinal County’s Small Area Transportation Study (SATS) and Regionally Significant Routes for Safety and Mobility Plan (RSRSM) have provided Maricopa with guidance for establishing future planning corridors for major roadways needed for regional connectivity to support projected growth and travel demand. Additionally, transit studies and regional connectivity plans have occurred and the City has adopted a master trails plan for Maricopa’s planning area. All of these studies were conducted since the 2006 General Plan and provide guidance for future decisions impacting long-term transportation serving Maricopa.

Over the years, the City has undertaken studies to provide guidance on transportation needs and priorities within the incorporated boundaries. The White & Parker Major Investment Study (MIS), 2008 Maricopa Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), the Pinal County East-West Corridor Study, and the Maricopa Area Transportation Plan of 2015 provide findings and recommendations specific to identified areas of need.

Maricopa became a member of the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) Municipal Planning Organization in 2012. As a member agency, Maricopa is included with the regional transportation planning and research efforts of the Phoenix metropolitan area, among other benefits. The Maricopa Area Transportation Plan builds upon MAG projection data and prior transportation studies to establish short, mid, and long-term transportation goals in-line with the citizen’s strategic vision for future land use and transportation. The recommendations are incorporated into this General Plan and are a foundation of this element.

2040 Vision: The citizens of Maricopa desire a carefully planned and well-designed community of quality growth and development. Through the visioning process, the community identified a number of goals and strategies that provide the framework for this General Plan. Transportation is critical to quality growth and accomplishing the desired land use pattern. Maricopa’s citizens have identified the following long-range transportation goals to aid in the fulfillment of their vision:

  • Provide greater, more efficient mobility through multi-modal transportation to and from Maricopa
  • Create an adequate intra-city road network
  • Create transportation connectivity with other cities and regions
  • Create Safe and functional pedestrian ways and bicycle routes throughout the City of Maricopa

The preceding discussion organizes these community goals and strategies in a framework to address the transportation needs for Maricopa.

2. Regional Connections & Roadways

From Maricopa, SR-347 provides access to the Phoenix metropolitan area, approximately 20 miles to the north, including access to Interstate 10. Interstate 10 provides highway and freeway links to Mexico and the major cities of Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Tucson and El Paso. The junction of SR-347 and SR-238, and the junction of SR-347 and the Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway occur in Maricopa. To the south of Maricopa, SR-347 connects to the Stanfield area and Interstate 8. Interstate 8 provides access to San Diego and Southern California and SR-347 and SR-238 are important links to San Diego and Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point), Mexico. To the southeast, Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway parallels the UPRR providing a connection to the City of Casa Grande and central/eastern Pinal County communities.

In a survey performed by MAG and Valley Metro for the Southeast Valley Transit System Study, it was identified that the majority of Maricopa residents travel outside of the City limits for work. A large share of commuters work north of the city with Phoenix, Chandler, Mesa, Tempe, and Gilbert occupying five of the top six work commute destinations in the Phoenix Metropolitan area. Also located east of the City is the City of Florence which the survey results showed as another top work commute destination. The results reflect that public transportation options were not meeting the needs of some Maricopa residents, particularly in regard to express service between Maricopa and the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. Of the respondents, an overwhelming 91% felt public transportation options were lacking. The most common responses for why the public transportation options were lacking were because they do not exist, they do not travel where residents need to go, or they do not travel at the times residents need to travel.

Citizens of Maricopa desire better connectivity to areas outside of Maricopa and the region. The 2040 Vision Transportation, Goal 3, is to create connectivity with other cities and regions, recognizing that transportation routes in and out of the City are essential for increased economic development and regional partnerships. Inter-regional connectivity is critically important to the social and economic welfare of Maricopa and its continued future growth and prosperity, particularly access to the Phoenix metropolitan area and connectivity with proposed east-west routes that would give access to neighboring communities. The Goals and Objectives of the Circulation Element promote connections to these regions through all modes of transportation.

Goal E2.1: Develop an efficient and safe transportation system providing multi-modal connectivity to other cities and regions.
Objective E2.1.1: Implement the recommendations of the Transportation Master Plan and the supporting Capital Improvement Program.
Objective E2.1.2: Foster strategic regional transportation partnerships with other jurisdictions and agencies (AMTRAK, ADOT, Pinal County, Gila River Indian Community, Ak-Chin Community, utility providers, Maricopa County, Valley Metro RPTA, Sun Corridor MPO, CAG, and MAG) to plan, design, and construct local and regional transportation improvements.
Objective E2.1.3: Support all jurisdictions efforts to implement regional roadway improvements that further the objectives of the Transportation Master Plan and Regional Connectivity Plan.
Objective E2.1.4: Plan for roadway corridors to improve local circulation and regional connections, such as north/south travel routes in addition to SR-347, and high capacity east/west regional travel routes. Implement policies, such as the Transportation Corridor Overlay Zoning District and incentives to encourage compatible land uses along these corridors at appropriate locations.
Objective E2.1.5: PTOS Master Plan update should incorporate a feasibility study for regional equestrian trail plan and facilities with connections to adjacent jurisdictions.

Roadway Network

In 2016, the City of Maricopa owns and maintains all roadways, except State routes (SR-347 & SR-238), within the incorporated boundaries. Pinal County administers all non-State route roadways in the unincorporated portions of the Maricopa planning area.

The primary roadway within Maricopa is SR-347, a four-lane (with short segments of five and six-lanes), ADOT-maintained facility, which traverses the community in a north-south alignment. The other major roads are primarily two-lane and include the Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and SR-238.

The roadways providing primary east-west access include Smith-Enke, Honeycutt, Bowlin, Farrell and Peters and Nall. Additional north-south access is provided by Green, Porter, White and Parker, Murphy and Anderson Roads.

An extensive grid of paved and unpaved, section-line roadways provide access throughout the unincorporated portions of the planning area. At the southern edge of the planning area, the paved east-west routes of SR-84 and Interstate 8 provide a relatively high level of service.

The City has made significant strides to improve the existing arterial roadways since the adoption of the 2006 General Plan. One of the more impactful accomplishments is the planning and identification of funding for the SR-347 grade separated crossing at the UPRR intersection. While still in the planning process, this effort will create a much safer and efficient roadway for the primary artery of the City. The draft environmental assessment suggests that in the long-term, improved traffic flow through the area would benefit local businesses, as people could more conveniently frequent local shops and services with less congestion and delays from the current 50-plus daily train crossings. This improvement will also enhance access to properties in the growth area along SR-347 south of the tracks, making the area more attractive for development and redevelopment.

In addition to the strategy to complete the SR-347 grade separation/overpass of the UPRR, Maricopa citizens also desire an adequate intra-city road network (2040 Vision Transportation, Goal 2) that includes safe and functional pedestrian ways and bicycle routes throughout Maricopa. To further this endeavor, the Transportation Master Plan recommend the City adopt a “Complete Streets” policy which is a modern planning approach to roadways that considers all modes of transportation equally and safely to make it easy for pedestrians to cross a street, walk to shops, bicycle to work and school, or access transit service. The Complete Streets concept is intended to provide safe and effective access to transportation for people of all ages, physical ability, or mode of transportation. Making the community safe to walk and bicycle has the notable potential to foster improved health, encourage community interaction, promote sustainability and demonstrate environmental stewardship. Safe bicycle and pedestrian routes are more specifically discussed in the Pedestrian and Bicycle Circulation section of this element.

Goal E2.2: Develop an efficient and safe intra-city road network, including a hierarchy of roadways, which meets the long-term vision of the citizens.
Objective E2.2.1: Fully implement the recommendations of the Transportation Master Plan (and subsequent adopted transportation related plans) on roadways within the City, including the adoption and implementation of a Complete Streets policy and associated roadway and infrastructure standards.
Objective E2.2.2: Establish truck routes through Maricopa and near adjacent farms.
Objective E2.2.3: Incorporate the SR-347 grade separation project in the 2016-2021 CIP and complete the overpass. Update the Redevelopment Area Plan to account for planned roadway redesign and parcel configurations impacted by the proposed roadway alignments to best leverage the economic and public benefits.
Objective E2.2.4: Identify a CIP to improve major rail-crossings and deficient roadway intersections in the designated growth areas. Improve secondary public safety access to all existing developed residential areas.
Objective E2.2.5: Accept control of all roadways within Maricopa currently under the jurisdiction of other agencies.
Objective E2.2.6: Integrate monitoring and traffic flow control infrastructure to all signalized arterial intersections (Intelligent Traffic Systems (ITS)).
Objective E2.2.7: Design, improve, and maintain existing and new transportation facilities within the Growth Areas in accordance with adopted codes, safety standards, and design details including landscaping and aesthetic standards.
Objective E2.2.8: Implement Transportation Corridor Overlay Zoning and Gateway locations in accordance with Land Use Goals.
Goal E2.3: Ensure fair and adequate financing to meet transportation needs.
Objective E2.3.1: Pursue dedicated funding sources, assistance from other levels of government and maintain updated impact fees associated with new developments.
Objective E2.3.2: Join with other jurisdictions and communities to seek increased state, regional, and federal sources of funding.
Objective E2.3.3: Assess and regularly update development impact fees for transportation improvements.

Functional Classifications & Facility Types

The primary roadways in the Maricopa Planning Area are functionally classified and categorized as to facility type within the Transportation Master Plan. The designations of Parkway, Principal Arterial I and II, Minor Arterial, Collector, Village Collector, 60’ ROW Collector, and Local roads are described in detail in the Transportation Master Plan. These designations are unchanged by this General Plan.

Arterials are described as four to six lanes, moderate speed facilities, generally located on a one-mile grid, serving major traffic within Maricopa. Two levels are identified, the first has a high level of access control to support large traffic volumes and connections to the regional system, and the second has more access points and local service. Examples of principal arterials include SR-347, Honeycutt Road and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. Examples of Minor arterials include Smith-Enke and Steen Roads.

Collector streets are two lanes in width, lower-speed facilities, often located midway between arterials. Collectors provide internal circulation and connect local roads within neighborhoods to the arterial roadway system. Land use patterns should permit higher intensity uses and mixed-use along arterial corridors and lower intensity uses such as single-family homes on local roads.

3. Pedestrian & Bicycle Circulation

There is a limited system of pedestrian and bicycle facilities in the City of Maricopa. Bicycle traffic currently uses the street system, outside of the open space paths developed internal to residential master plans. Of particular concern is the need for safe pedestrian crossings given increasing traffic volumes. Limited or no sidewalks exist in the Heritage District Redevelopment Area and along SR-347, SR-238, and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway to serve pedestrians.

There is no known trail or unpaved pathway system within the City. Most trails in current development do not provide connectivity to community destinations or between neighborhoods and developments.

The City’s Community Services Department has established designations and standards for paved and unpaved pathways and trail systems in the Parks, Trails and Open Space Master Plan (PTOS). The Complete Streets Network as part of the Transportation Master Plan, and included herein, expands upon the existing master Trails Plan of the PTOS for pedestrian and bicycle mobility. Additional information is found in the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Element of this General Plan.

The importance of alternative modes of travel for the City, namely bicycles and pedestrians, is documented in adopted City policies: City of Maricopa General Plan 2006, 2008 PTOS, City of Maricopa 2040 Vision Strategic Plan, and the Transportation Master Plan. Generally speaking, increasing accessibility and mobility of these groups of a community’s citizens increases the accessibility and mobility for all travelers. This understanding is further explained in the Transportation Master Plan.

Connecting bicycle facilities on local and collector streets to local services and destinations increases the likelihood of convenient short trips. Direct connections from local and collector streets to off-street shared use trails/paths also would be supportive of safer bicycle travel by bypassing arterial streets. Connectivity at the neighborhood level enables people to take shorter routes and travel on quieter streets, which is more conducive to bicycling. A complementary “Wayfinding” program would provide support for navigating the network of bicycle facilities on local and collector streets. Wayfinding is modern jargon for knowing where one is located, where one desires to go, and having the information on how to get there.

The City of Maricopa 2040 Vision identifies six areas of strategic importance to the community that must be addressed to achieve the overall vision for the community and improve quality of life for its citizens. Within the context of these strategic areas, there are several goals and strategies that relate to pedestrian and bicycle travel.

“The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) findings regarding bicyclists and pedestrian travel as a transportation mode indicates younger people, in particular (specifically, Millenials) are not as engaged in driving as previous generations. This trend is characterized by fewer miles driven, longer time before applying for drivers licenses, and more frequent use of public transportation, where available. In addition, younger persons rely more on ridesharing and, this more technologically savvy generation, is taking advantage of the taxi mobile applications to reduce reliance on personally-owned vehicles”

-Transportation Master Plan

Goal E3.1: Create safe and functional pedestrian ways and bicycle routes as an alternate mode of travel throughout Maricopa.
Objective E3.1.1: Fully implement the recommendations of the Transportation Master Plan (and subsequent adopted bicycle and pedestrian related plans (Safe Routes to Schools Master Plan)) on roadways and paths within the City, including the adoption of a Complete Streets policy and roadway standards.
Objective E3.1.2: Develop a bicycle and pedestrian master plan and wayfinding plan as an element of the PTOS Master Plan update to further analyze trail connectivity and create a strategy for improving a continuous bikeway network. The PTOS Master Plan update shall incorporate best practices for handicap accessibility and feasibility for a bicycle sharing program pursuant to the Transportation Master Plan.
Objective E3.1.3: Update the existing PTOS Master Trails Plan for the City and update the Trails CIP to develop pedestrian trails and bikeways connecting all development, parks, greenways, and commercial areas within the City. Incorporate the findings and recommendations of the Trails and Pathways Element of the Transportation Master Plan.
Objective E3.1.4: Coordinate efforts with GRIC to develop a designated and improved bicycle path along SR-347 north of Maricopa.
Objective E3.1.5: Update City codes and standards to create a bicycle friendly community and mitigate the physical and psychological barriers to bicycling. All new construction site improvements should include completion of sidewalk networks serving the site, both on and off-site, where found reasonable to complete connectivity.
Objective E3.1.6: Implement MAG “Toolkit” for pedestrian and bicycle improvement recommendations for improvements to address common transit system access issues characteristic of the hot, arid climate. Consider implementing a “Walk-ability” rating or metrics program to evaluate pedestrian access and comfort of sidewalks, trails, and gathering areas throughout the community.
Objective E3.1.7: Objective E3.1.7: Work with ADOT to improve pedestrian safety along and across SR-347.

4. Transit

Maricopa’s citizens have a vision for an integrated, city-wide and regional multi-modal transportation system that provides more efficient mobility to support a more sustainable and desirable land use pattern. The 2006 General Plan recognized growth within the City would require alternative transportation options, particularly to reduce the rate of traffic growth along SR-347. The prior Plan guides the City to work closely with our neighboring communities to expand transit options.

The City has expanded the available public transportation options by way of a limited bus system. Maricopa’s COMET bus transit system provides dial-a-ride service to residents locally, and a limited fixed route service. This bus system also affords residents weekly opportunities for travel to regional health care facilities in two separate regions. Both shuttles provide connections with other transit services at these two regional destinations. Also, the Valley Metro vanpool program provides multiple daily commuter services using the City’s park-n-ride facility as the pick-up and drop-off point with direct connections to locations in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

These public transit services enhance the mobility and connectivity of City residents. The use of public transit affords more productive time for riders, encourages social interaction, and provides localized and regional air quality benefits by reducing the number of personal automobiles, particularly during congested travel periods. As the City and Planning Area grows, it becomes increasingly important to have an efficient and effective public transit system in place to mitigate the resulting increased traffic congestion and carbon emissions. Added attention should be given to expanding local transit options and improving regional transit connectivity to expand the socio-economic opportunities for Maricopa’s diverse population.

The Transportation Master Plan outlines a number of existing transit studies incorporating Maricopa within regional systems. The findings and recommendations of the 2011 Pinal County Transit Feasibility Study and the 2015 Southeast Valley Transit System Study provide guidance for future transit decisions. The Southeast Valley Transit System Study incorporates information from the former study and recommends the optimization of existing bus services. In addition, the Transportation Master Plan provides a short term framework of actions for improving transit services in the next five years. Beyond that the Southeast Valley Transit System Study has resulted in recommendations for the Mid Term Planning Horizon for implementation within 15 years and Long Term Planning Horizon for implementation beyond 15 years.

The 2011 Pinal County Transit Feasibility Study envisions a Maricopa Transportation Center that ultimately would be a focal point for regional transit services offered in Pinal County (between Maricopa and Florence, and potentially to San Tan Valley) and Express Bus connections with destinations in the Phoenix metropolitan area. The City is in the planning stages of a potential Maricopa Transportation Center to possibly be developed in conjunction with the relocation of the Amtrak Station one mile west of the location at SR-347. The function of the Maricopa Transportation Center and other near-term transit investment should focus on implementing the Express Bus, and possibly BRT service to the SR-347 vicinity as an interim solution for commuter travel.

Goal E4.1: Create greater, more efficient mobility through a multi-modal circulation system, including transit, to, from, and within Maricopa.
Objective E4.1.1: Adopt and implement a CIP to establish Maricopa as a Transit Ready Community. Identify high volume transit service and mobility corridors as opportunities to stimulate and support commercial and employment. Map the Transit Oriented Development Overlay District on the Official Zoning Map for the planned Maricopa Transportation Center area and identified corridors to encourage compatible and supportive land uses. Establish and implement a bus stop policy & standard details in the short term.
Objective E4.1.2: Establish greater connectivity with the Phoenix metro area by expanding Park-n-Ride facilities and express bus routes to Maricopa. The Maricopa Transportation Center and other near-term transit investment should focus on implementing the Express Bus, or potentially BRT, service along SR-347 as an appropriate interim solution for commuter travel.
Objective E4.1.3: Optimize and expand the current use of existing buses, shuttles, or trolley within the City to key locations and population centers. Consider facilities for all ages and abilities, including Federal Transit Administration Section 5310 program funding.
Objective E4.1.4: Conduct or participate in a needs assessment for LRT, Commuter Rail, Intercity/Interstate Rail, Intercity Bus, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Express Bus, Local Bus, Feeder Bus, circulators, and demand response.
Objective E4.1.5: Utilize the findings and recommendations of the 2011 Pinal County Transit Feasibility Study and the 2015 Southeast Valley Transit System Study through MAG and Valley Metro to further develop a framework for a regional transit system and programs.
Objective E4.1.6: Implement the findings and recommendations of the Transportation Master Plan and subsequent adopted transit related plans.

Rail Service

The Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) generally parallels the Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and SR-238 from Casa Grande to Gila Bend. The rail line through Maricopa was originally constructed in 1879. A significant portion of service along this track through the City was diverted, when rail service was routed on a new line through Phoenix. A portion of the Phoenix route, which linked the Phoenix Subdivision in western Phoenix to the community of Wellton and City of Yuma in western Arizona, was referred to as the “Wellton Branch.” The Wellton Branch was severely damaged in 1995, and the current operator – UPRR, has determined the damage to be too great of a cost to repair. As a result, today, all transcontinental UPRR rail freight traffic and Amtrak passenger service operates on the original line through Maricopa. This rail route traverses the southern part of the United States and connects Los Angeles with Tucson, El Paso, Houston, and New Orleans. It is Arizona’s second busiest rail line.

Currently, approximately 50 freight trains operate daily through Maricopa. Many of these trains are over a mile long. The UPRR recently completed construction and double tracked the existing rail line to accommodate expected growth in rail traffic that may reach 100 trains per day in the future. Union Pacific is experiencing significant growth in the volume of rail freight carried. Due to the current configuration of trackage, all freight trains traveling from Los Angeles to Phoenix pass through Maricopa.Rail-highway crossings pose a particular challenge in Maricopa as the community is bisected by the UPRR line. Rapidly growing communities like Maricopa need a sufficient number of rail-highway crossings that are safe and convenient to support travel demand, commerce and needed emergency service responders. Of particular concern in Maricopa is the SR-347 rail crossing. Delays and safety concerns exist at this crossing where traffic backups have far reaching impacts on traffic operations in the City. A grade separation project (overpass) is underway to separate SR-347 and UPRR.

The Amtrak station is one of eight in AZ, and the closest and most accessible to the Phoenix Metro area. Amtrak’s Texas Eagle (Los Angeles – Chicago) and Sunset Limited (Los Angeles – New Orleans) has scheduled stops in Maricopa. The Station located immediately east of SR-347 at its crossing of the rail alignment, has been hindered by a short station platform. The station design causes 30 minute traffic delays at the intersection of SR-347 and UPRR. The City is in the planning stages of the Maricopa Transportation Center to possibly be developed in conjunction with relocation of the Amtrak Station one mile west of its historic location on the eastside of SR-347. Moving the Amtrak station as part of the Maricopa Transportation Center will remove the cause of delays associated with passenger service and make access to the station more convenient and safer. This improvement also offers a unique opportunity for Transit Oriented Development in the future, and should be planned accordingly. The Redevelopment Area Plan offers strategic goals and objectives supporting this development concept in the Heritage District Redevelopment Area.

MAG’s Commuter Rail Strategic Plan, referenced in the Pinal County Transit Feasibility Study, identifies the SR-347 corridor as a possible rail extension, connecting a future Tempe Branch with the UPRR Sunset Line. Commuter Rail service is in the very early stages of conceptualization and planning. ADOT envisions the City of Maricopa entering into a regional organizational structure that offers a broad range of transit services, which would include studying feasibility of potential future Commuter Rail options. The SR-347 corridor would be a prime candidate for modern rail service connecting with the Phoenix metropolitan area. Refer to Section II F. Economic Development for additional heavy-rail related discussion.

Goal E4.2: Maintain and expand local passenger and freight rail service in Maricopa to create opportunities for economic development, tourism and regional transit.
Objective E4.2.1: Support continued Amtrak passenger service in Maricopa and remove barriers to expanded usage, ie, secured parking, hospitality, targeted local activities for passengers, etc. Explore opportunities to promote Maricopa as a national destination for tourism and convenient connections to Phoenix metropolitan area.
Objective E4.2.2: Plan, design, and improve heavy rail track spurs to promote industrial development and warehousing within Maricopa.
Objective E4.2.3: Study the feasibility of establishing commuter rail service between Maricopa, greater Phoenix and Casa Grande.

Air Service

With regard to air service, Maricopa will continue to rely on facilities in the Phoenix metropolitan area as the primary providers of service to local residents, visitors and businesses. In 2007 the City completed an Airport Feasibility and Site Selection Study that has yet to be implemented. An update to the study should be pursued based on current and future projected fiscal conditions of the City. The study should further explore the possibility of operating its own general aviation airport or partnering with an existing airport within the Maricopa planning area. A detailed study is recommended to analyze the cost and benefit of both options.

General aviation includes every type of civil flying other than the certified air carriers. Nationally, general aviation accounts for 96 percent of all hours flown and provides access to more than 12,000 communities, while commercial air carriers provide service to about 350 airports. In Arizona, commercial carriers provide service to 20 communities and general aviation public use airports provide access to 100 communities. The estimated increase for Arizona in general aviation aircraft is for at least 40 percent over the next 20 years. In terms of aircraft operations, the landings and takeoffs are expected to increase by at least 64 percent over this same period. This will result in greater demand and need for improvement and expansion of airfield facilities.

The original 2007 airport feasibility study suggests an airport in Maricopa should be geared to corporate use, pilot training, and recreational flying. An important concern arose from the study: residential growth is rapidly absorbing undeveloped land available for an airport. It also recommended the City reserve 600 to 700 acres of land to accommodate the new airport. Pursuant to the findings and conclusions of the 2007 airport feasibility study, in February 2008, the Maricopa City Council approved the preferred site for a regional airport, which currently is known as Estrella Sailport.

There is adequate lead time to permit careful planning for an airport facility and preclude development of sensitive land uses (e.g., homes) near the airport that will be negatively affected by residual noise from airplanes. With the completion of subsequent studies and a decision to move forward with development of the airport, a Site Master Plan would be developed, including environmental studies and all necessary documents to request funds through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and ADOT Aeronautics.

Beyond the possibility of a new Maricopa Airport, the existing Ak-Chin Regional Airport is a publicly owned public use airport located in the east central portion of Maricopa’s planning area, just eight miles east southeast of downtown Maricopa. The airport is owned and operated under the authority of the Ak Chin Indian Community, a recognized public entity. Refer to Section II F. Economic Development for additional airport related discussion.

Goal E4.3: Explore opportunities to establish regular air freight and passenger service through a partnership and/or sole operation of airport facilities within the Planning Area.
Objective E4.3.1: Prepare an updated airport feasibility study that presents the potential benefits, financial viability and realistic means necessary to establish a partnership or operate a regional airport within the Maricopa planning area.
Objective E4.3.1: Identify air service opportunities and improvements for the Maricopa area that tie into and support local economic development efforts.

5. Circulation Plan

Future circulation patterns and roadway volumes are tied closely to patterns of future land use and development. As illustrated in the Land Use Element, future growth and development of the City is geared toward concentrated mixed-use Village Centers at key locations along major transportation corridors. The future circulation system and multi-modal transportation programs are critical to achieving this development pattern.

The Circulation Plan graphically depicts the existing highway and road network serving Maricopa. Major improvements to existing facilities and the development of new roadways and trails are anticipated over the next 20 years. Improvements to SR-347, including additional capacity, and a railroad overpass, are chief among circulation needs. In addition to SR-347, White and Parker and Anderson Roads are identified as major north-south corridors in the City. Smith-Enke, Honeycutt, Bowlin and Peters and Nall Roads are planned as east-west arterials as well.

Specific policies, time frames and responsibilities for positive actions to achieve the Goals, Objectives and Recommendations of the Circulation & Connectivity Element are to be included in the City’s strategic plan.