Town breaks ground for new downtown connector roads

Ground was broken last week for three connector roads in downtown Queen Creek as part of a major effort to make town center more pedestrian friendly and creating what town officials hope will be a more walkable neighborhood.

Aldecoa Drive and Munoz Street will both connect from Ellsworth Road to Ellsworth Loop, and Summers Place will connect from Aldecoa to Munoz.

“This is something I have been so excited about,” said Queen Creek Mayor-elect Julia Wheatley just before she, Chamber of Commerce President Chris Clark and other town officials scooped up and tossed ceremonial shovels full of dirt.

“These connectors are an important step in implementing the Town Center Plan, with a vision to create a vibrant and walkable district in the heart of Town Center that complements the heritage of the community and provides a range of venues,” Wheatley continued.

Queen Creek has looked to neighboring Gilbert, which has created the Heritage District in its downtown, a thriving entertainment scene with bars, restaurants, shops, and a performing arts theater.

Gilbert even lights up its iconic

water tower in different colors, giving the district a multi-colored ambience after dark.

Downtown development is a prime area of focus as a new Queen Creek Town Council is about to be sworn in. There are several plots of prime real estate on the market. High density housing will also be part of the mix and Wheatley has put making the area easier and safer to navigate on her priority list.

“I’m very passionate about developing our downtown,” she told the Tribune. “There’s a lot of potential in our downtown. You see surrounding municipalities and how well their downtown is doing and the growth that Queen Creek is seeing. It is right around the corner for us.”

Wheatley said downtown development will also spur more economic expansion beyond more dining and shopping options.

“More revenues to support programs like public safety, parks and recreation,” Wheatley said.

Economic Development Director Doreen Cott said the town has also created special zoning and design standards for the downtown core to entice entertainment venue development, including modified building height requirements, reduced building setbacks, and different parking opportunities.

She called these connector roads an important piece of infrastructure “because it’s going to create those urban blocks.”

“What that means is creating those more urban blocks,” she said. “So that when you’re walking it doesn’t seem like such a long stretch. We’re trying to create those urban blocks, so shorter blocks. And so, all of those factor into creating a vibrant downtown,” Cott said.

The new roadways will include one lane in each direction with on-street parking, off-street bicycle paths and walkways, crosswalks, and landscaping. It will also include utility work including water, sewer, storm water and drainage improvements.

The connector roads are anticipated to be complete in early 2024. During construction, Ellsworth Loop and Ellsworth Road will remain open for travel with periodic shifts away from the work zones.

In mid-January, restrictions will begin on Ellsworth Loop and are anticipated to last several weeks.