Scottsdale’s October Surprise? Traffic is About to Get Crazy Around Chaparral

There’s not too much to complain about in Scottsdale. However, one frequent concern from voters is traffic. Residents will often decry the construction of large apartment complexes out of concerns of increased traffic, and developments will often fail to pass through council without robust traffic mitigation plans. It’s a very real concern.

So when the news broke that a large part of Chaparral Road will be closed over the next three months due to construction, the very first thing that came to mind was the potential ire of the voters at the worst time possible: right before the city’s elections at the end of July. What in politics is called an “October Surprise”, an unforeseen event right before an election that has the potential to tip the scales in a certain way.

If you’ve been thinking to yourself that construction has been ramping up recently, you’re not wrong. This news is in addition to the closure of numerous freeway ramps; there have now been three ramp closures as work to widen the Loop 101 goes on. While a ramp closure is not as disruptive as a road closure (unless you need to use that exit, that is), you’re not losing your mind; there has been a lot of work going on.

And we don’t mean to be cranky about it; the work that is being done should yield nice results. A pedestrian underpass will help walkability in the area while providing a bit of shade. When done, it should make the area even more friendly for residents and tourists alike. But rarely do people think about future benefit when they are irritated at the moment. Recency bias is a very real thing and is incredibly prominent in politics.

And when people are annoyed, what do they do? They find someone to blame. And who do they blame? In this case, the city, and in all likelihood the politicians who run it. Is it fair? Probably not. After all, there is a city manager who likely plays a bigger role in scheduling these things. The city council and mayor don’t micromanage these sorts of things. But it’s a tradition as old as time itself; when you pursue leadership roles, you will get blamed for things that you had nothing to do with.

And for all incumbents (and there are several running for re-election), they are certain to bear the brunt of misplaced rage. Will it be enough to impact any races? I guess it depends on how bad the inconveniences become. And thankfully for them, Scottsdale is generally so well run that there is less of a “vote the bums out” ethos as there is in other places. But it will be a headache that comes at about the worst possible time for all incumbents who have to ask the voters to vote them back in again.