The $600 million expansion of the Phoenix Convention Center—managed by the city's public works department—will triple the building's size to 2 million square feet. Photo: Phoenix Convention Center
Waste Not...

Future businesses and residents will generate a whole lot of garbage. Phoenix is ready for it.

“We've projected our solid-waste infrastructure out for the next 50 years,” says Leonard. “We're very aggressive in dealing with growth, and there's a great deal of innovation going on over in solid waste.”

In January 2006, the Solid Waste Department opened a new city-run landfill (sited on 2850 acres southwest of the city), and the new North Gateway transfer station and recycling facility opened for business on a 40-acre site to the north. The projects—sited on land purchased with money from the department's budget—took $100 million in capital funding.

Traffic patterns for commercial, long-haul, small loads, and recycling operations around the transfer station are kept separate; this helps avoid snarls caused by the high volume of traffic at the site. Other innovative features include labor-saving sorting equipment at the recycling site, automated scale technologies to expedite weighing, and solar panels to help cut energy consumption.

In addition, Leonard's solid-waste staff is redrawing the collection service map to ensure that resources continue to be properly allocated.

Not-So-Easy Street

Traveling to, from, and between all these amazing facilities would be problematic if it weren't for the city's street transportation department. Blakley says his department's 2006 bond program included nearly $19 million for infrastructure improvements in the downtown area—enhanced streetscapes, urban trails, enhanced pedestrian pathways, and more. All of these are designed to alleviate headaches caused by congestion.

“Probably the biggest impact we've seen from the downtown revitalization efforts is the traffic restrictions resulting from all the construction activity,” says Blakley. “The right of way management section coordinates these restrictions to minimize the impact on the public.”

Over the next five years, the department plans to pump more than $7 million into its advanced traffic management system. The system will incorporate video cameras and detectors, changeable message signs, emergency-vehicle preemption, and computerized traffic signals, all brought together at its Traffic Management Center.

“This integration of tools into a high-speed network environment will allow us to spend more time actively managing our system to improve travel times, reduce delay, and improve the level of service along our arterial street system,” says Blakley.

Another way street transportation is alleviating the pain is through construction of new streets, underpasses, bridges, and bicycle crossings. Also, the city's light-rail system—anticipated to be up and running by 2009—will take more people off the city's crowded roadways.