PHOENIX — Less room for cars, more space for bikes and street-side public art are the city’s first investments along 32nd Street under a major revitalization plan for the north Phoenix corridor.
The plan — approved by the City Council in December — re-envisions the North 32nd Street Corridor, along 32nd Street from the Phoenix Mountain Preserve north to Loop 101, as a part of the city where neighborhood residents will spend more of their time and visitors will come to explore.
The area once operated as a major thoroughfare through the city but was bypassed by State Route 51 when the freeway was completed at the start of the century. Businesses were stifled as traffic along the street decreased, leaving a stretch of about eight miles flanked by vacant buildings.
Car traffic in the area dropped from 58,000 vehicle trips per day to 21,000 after SR 51 was completed, according to the city.
Councilmen Bill Gates and Jim Waring started a community working group in 2012 to brainstorm how to redevelop the area, using help from other organizations including Arizona State University.
The resulting plan outlines a vision for the corridor and areas of focus including branding and events, street improvements and land redevelopment. Each major intersection is mapped with ideas of what it could be.
Overall, the corridor could be refocused from just filling retail space to using local businesses, family activities and proximity to the mountains to draw people to the area, Gates said. This year, residents will see changes starting on the ground.
“This is really the beginning of it,” he said.
Last month, the city approved a contractor to start a “road diet” for about four miles on 32nd Street between Shea Boulevard and Hartford Avenue.
The project will replace one northbound vehicle lane with bike lanes on both sides of the street. The roughly 8-month project will cost nearly $800,000 using city and federal funds and is expected to start this summer.