Swanson Avenue reconstruction plan draws concerns

March 21, 2019 GMT

Lake Havasu City residents and small business owners made their feelings known at Wednesday evening’s open house for the upcoming Swanson Avenue Reconstruction Project.

The $2 million project, which is scheduled to begin sometime in April, will run seven-tenths of a mile from University Way to Scott Drive. The project is funded primarily with federal-aid funds (94.3 percent) and managed by the Arizona Department of Transportation. The project is anticipated to take approximately four months to complete.

That stretch of Swanson is home to Arizona State University Havasu and The Views, a new senior living facility scheduled to open later this year, as well as several small businesses.

ASU Havasu campus director Raymond Van Der Riet said he didn’t expect the road work and elimination of street parking to pose any immediate problems for the college, but said it could have a longer-term impact as the campus approaches capacity.

“However, that would be at least 10 years-plus out,” he said in an email. “Even then, we should have several options internal to the campus that could address these pressures--maximizing our space to include more parking.”

It comes amid a flurry of road construction on Lake Havasu Avenue, where the city is widening the street and adding medians. City official say the Lake Havasu Avenue project is scheduled to be completed by Memorial Day.

According to ADOT, the Swanson Avenue project is designed to improve the area between the intersections of Acoma Boulevard and Smoketree Avenue. Improvements include the complete reconstruction of the existing road to allow for a 10-foot wide multi-use path on the south side and a new 6-foot sidewalk and 5-foot bike lane on the north side of the roadway. The two lanes for vehicle traffic will each be 12 feet wide.

This change also will eliminate the ability for parallel parking along this corridor and that is what has some small business owners upset.

Vicki Giomi, owner of Vicki’s Grooming, said she’s been there 21 years and she’s not happy with the proposed work.

“It’s going to kill a lot of small businesses there,” Giomi said. “There are dirt parking lots behind some of the businesses, but they are raised and for some people to walk down over the slopes or the sidewalk, it’s pretty steep. And it’s tough for older people or disabled people.

“Wasn’t Lake Havasu built on the idea of small business?” Giomi said. “It seems to me money talks and up until last week, no one on that section of street had heard of it until the day before it was in the paper.”

Giomi has parking behind her building, off of Van Vliet Lane, but as she described, there is a staircase that must be navigated before anyone can enter her business.

“I drop my dog off there (Vicki’s Grooming), but with this going on, it makes it pretty difficult,” resident Terrie Colella said.

According to information from ADOT, the changes were supported by several studies completed over many years with extensive public outreach and include the Bicycle and Pedestrian Implementation Plan (2018), Vision 20/20 Revitalization Plan (2015), PARA Study (2012) and the R/UDAT Report (2007).

Lake Havasu City Project Manager Dustin Salisbury said 98 percent of the parking that exists in the area will be retained.

Another point of contention among those whom will be affected by the work is the street work that is occurring further down Swanson Avenue at the intersection of Lake Havasu Avenue.

“It’s doubtful the Havasu/Swanson work will be done by the time this project so there will be overlap,” Salisbury said. “The two contractors will have to coordinate the work that is being done.”

Salisbury added that Swanson is one of the more traveled streets in the area because it has fewer stop signs than Mesquite.

For more information, please contact Lake Havasu City Project Manager, Jeff Herb, at 928-680-5474.

Scott Shindledecker can be reached at 928-453-4237, ext. 252 or at sshindledecker@havasunews.com.