A number of years ago there was a creative proposal to build a New York City-inspired “High-Line Trail” down the middle of Scottsdale’s McDowell Road, up in the air, connecting the Indian Bend Wash to a new Red Rocks-style amphitheater in Papago Park.
Those familiar with the High-Line know what a remarkable recreational amenity and economic development driver the project has been.
The idea for Scottsdale was similar, but different. And before the massive redevelopment of old automobile dealerships along McDowell.
There was a lot of discussion about a “High-Line” for Scottsdale’s southern city. Could it too drive more economic development, tourism and create yet another spectacular walking, jogging and biking place in the community?
Some people liked the idea. The Scottsdale Republic even endorsed the concept. Others decried the cost and disruption.
But at its interesting core the idea was really about connectivity. Southern Scottsdale boasts many attributes with the Indian Bend Wash and Papago Park (which is actually in Phoenix) at the top of the list. But there is nothing connecting them other than the highly-trafficked McDowell Road. In other words, to get from one to another and enjoy both an automobile was required because to walk or bike it was not appealing.
That may be about to change. According to this insightful article in the Scottsdale Progress, the city may be on the verge of making McDowell Road much more bike-friendly, creating a different kind of connectivity that that sought with the High-Line concept.
While not as dramatic or visionary there can be no doubt that it will cost far less.
In recent years Scottsdale has done a good job of waking up to the realization that it can be one of the best and most interesting biking cities in America. This was at the core of an innovative redevelopment plan a couple of years back called “Gentry on the Green,”
One can now easily bike from Scottsdale’s southern boundary to its greatest achievement that is the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Or roll down to Tempe Town Lake on the Indian Bend Wash. Or head west along canals into Phoenix’s impressive Arcadia neighborhood. Now, with the new plans for McDowell Road the Indian Bend Wash and Crosscut Canal can be easily combined into a great day of biking, with plenty of fascinating small businesses along the way.
With McDowell Road revitalizing organically and SkySong notably evolving the need for more dramatic approaches like a “High-Line” has lessened. That’s good news. And so too is a city that realizes it has great biking infrastructure and can add even more. The benefits for residents and tourists Scottsdale needs and wants to attract will be felt for generations. So good job city leaders. We like the gears you’re shifting into.