The city of Tempe, utilizing design concept grant funding from the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG), is advancing a project that would use city right-of-way, private property agreements and identify possible use of the Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way to develop a 7-mile multi-use pathway along or adjacent to the north south Union Pacific Railroad rail spur in Tempe. The project would extend from the Tempe Town Lake/downtown Tempe to Knox Road near the Chandler border making it the longest continuous pathway in the community. One short segment of this proposed path system has already been built as part of the Encore on Farmer housing development, which is a model for the remaining portions of this path alignment.
The path would include lighting, landscaping and public art while being ADA and AASHTO compliant, and would likely include more than 12 street crossings (i.e., at grade signals or pedestrian refuges). The project is included in the Tempe Transportation Plan and is in concert with the General Plan. The project will serve every aspect of the community from senior housing centers to low income neighborhoods to high student populations and high density residential centers while connecting to bus routes and light rail.
The design concept will include a preferred path alignment as well as a project prioritization list for completing the entire 10 miles of pathway. Those prioritizations listed would be used to submit budget requests to the City Council for specific construction document and construction funding, and for federal construction grants. It is likely that specific areas along the 10-mile corridor would be constructed at one-mile portions, similar to the Rio Salado path system beginning with the area from University Drive to Baseline Road. Ongoing maintenance of the pathways would be managed by the Transportation Division or through agreements with adjacent private property developments like the Encore on Farmer.
Staff will closely coordinate with Union Pacific Railroad, particularly for any right-of-way needs that may be recommended with this pathway system. Public outreach and adjacent property owner and stakeholder input will also be part of the process.