Las Vegas Sun

August 21, 2014

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A city in need of retrofit

Image

Leila Navidi

Who knew it was so hard to find the entrance to a pedestrian bridge over a highway? Videographer Matt Toplikar and I saw this one over I-10 going west out of downtown Phoenix during rush hour and wanted to get a shot of the traffic. So easy, right? We ended up driving around for more than 30 minutes looking for the entrance to this one. It was an epic search. Pedestrian bridges over the highways of Phoenix turned out to be handy, and elusive, a couple more times during our journey through Phoenix. - Leila Navidi.

Sun Expanded Coverage

(The Sun has gone on the road to listen to voters and talk to political leaders around the West. Reporters will examine the economic, cultural and demographic forces re-shaping the region as they drive to Denver for the first of the two major party conventions the Sun will cover.)

PHOENIX -- Fans of urban planning, let me warn you: Phoenix is not for you.

Developers hold great sway. That, combined with a strong property rightsethos, have created a city that is hard to get around, lacking in walkable amenities, and as Sun photographer Leila Navidi nicely put it, "visually incoherant."

High-rises exist next to brownstones next to a strip mall. We stayed downtown Tuesday night, and it was like a ghost town. Nothing happening.

This certainly is not the only city with this problem. And clearly the community is trying to get people to go downtown, with light rail about to come online and construction of some higher density projects.

But all-in-all, there's just no arguing with the fact that the organizing principle of this city, for decades, was the automobile.

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