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  • Writer's pictureMark L. Johnson

Tortolita 30 Rezoning-Traffic Study Jam

Proposed Roundabout At Tortolita Road/Moore Road Raises Big Questions


Tortolita Alliance (TA) is engaged with the proposed rezoning of 30 acres of land located west of the Highlands called the Tortolita 30. See map-left. The developer (DR Horton) proposes to change the zoning from the current R-144 (144,000 sq. ft. lot) to R-8 (8,000 sq. ft. lot).

TA opposed the rezoning in the TA Comment Letter 9/28/20 to the Planning Commission and provided a Tortolita 30 Rezoning Update on 10/1/20.

The Planning Commission approved the rezoning subject to a re-do of the traffic study for the project. TA requested that the traffic study be updated because it did not include another recently approved subdivision on Tortolita Road called Tortolita Ridge.

TA has reviewed the Tortolita 30 Traffic Study Re-do, Original Marana Unified School District (MUSD) STEM School Traffic Study and the Updated MUSD STEM School Traffic Study. These traffic studies are inaccurate, inconsistent and unreliable. In addition, there is no evidence that increased traffic at Tortolita Road and Moore Road can be mitigated with a roundabout.

In fact the Tortolita 30 Traffic Study Re-do states, "a single-lane roundabout may alleviate delays at this intersection" and "The intersection of Tortolita Road/Moore Road should be observed after the installation of the traffic signal at Moore Road/Dove Mountain to evaluate the impacts of the new traffic signal". These statements provide very little confidence that a roundabout at Tortolita Road/Moore Road will work.

Accordingly, TA has recommended that the Town Council reject this rezoning. See TA Comment Letter 10/17/20.

If you have the time, please attend the Town Council Hearing on Tuesday, 10/20/20 at 6:00PM at the Marana Municipal Complex or virtually via Zoom and support TA comments and/or contact Marana Mayor and Town Council directly or via Town Clerk: .


Roundabouts (Rotaries)

This item deserves a little more discussion on roundabouts. I am a Professional Civil/Environmental Engineer but not a civil/transportation engineer (boring!). However, I have lots of experience with roundabouts or rotaries as they are called in Massachusetts were I grew up. My home town is Barnstable (Cape Cod), MA, which was incorporated in 1639---yep, 338 years before Marana was incorporated in 1977! Some say I attended the first Town Hall Meeting!! Barnstable has been using rotaries since Henry Ford. These rotaries are big, can handle all types of vehicles including large fire trucks and other emergency equipment. They receive lots of traffic and are not necessarily the safest or efficient way to handle vehicle traffic, bikes and pedestrians. When I was first learning to drive, I always cringed when entering a rotary.

I just read the Cape Cod Commission's June 2019 Barnstable High Crash Locations Report and was amazed to see how many accidents occur at rotaries. See list (right) of crashes at rotaries (2012-2016). Many civil/transportation engineers in the west are now promoting roundabouts as the panacea. I suggest they really look at an area of the country that has used rotaries for a very long time.


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