Whispering Ranch Roadway Improvement Efforts

A Bit of the History on Roads and Maintenance

The whole idea of Whispering Ranch started in the late 1950's and early 1960's. The property was originally subdivided by Horizon Development (they also did some subdivisions in other areas of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas) with the intention of selling land parcels through a huge marketing system to folks all over the country. I have seen some of the original marketing stuff, and it is pretty impressive, talking about shopping, golf courses, recreational lakes and lots of things to do.

But one of the things they forgot was that you would need roads. There was never any agreement with Maricopa County for any road maintenance. And since Whispering Ranch is not part of any Town or City, the only road maintenance is what work is done by the local residents. That's why the roads are decent near the entrances on either the east side (Patton Road) or the west side (Whispering Ranch Road). But the farther you get toward the middle, the worse the roads get. There are areas where the terrain is hilly or washed out and there are a lot of areas that are accessible only by foot.

The roads were originally bulldozed during the early to mid 1960's. It took over a year to get them done, and when they were finished, they were OK. Some of the roads have not seen any more maintenance since the original work, and others have moved from their original location since they washed out when it rained and were not passable after that. So the roadways are pretty rough and need some work. Most residents did what they could to maintain the roads to their property, but the farther you go the worse they get.

When everyone noticed that taxes were going up, we thought it a good idea to see what we could get in return for paying these higher taxes, and getting some maintenance (grading, drainage, etc.) seemed like a good place to start. So we went to Maricopa County Department of Transportation. As a part of the process, they said they needed to do a traffic study. That took a while, but now they indicate there is a decent volume of traffic on the east side and west side of Whispering Ranch, but no traffic across the middle of the ranch from one side to the other. (No big surprise here.) And it looks like they are not willing to do anything in the area about the roads. I think that they are afraid that if they do come out and start ANY work, it will put them on the hook for more roadway maintenance work, so they are trying to avoid the issue. It may be easier to wait for Wickenburg to annex the area, then they will have to face the issue, and the County will be off the hook.

Lets look at what kind of problems this causes. Without decent streets and roads, there is effectively no police protection, fire protection or ambulance service in most of the Whispering Ranch area. I have had residents tell me that if they see something drastic that needs attention, they call the Toyota Security phone number and see if they can make any calls for help.

If you need medical attention, you have to get yourself to one of the entrances to Whispering Ranch, either to the Patton Road and 299th Avenue area or to the Vulture Mine Road spot near the mailboxes . . . other than that you are out of luck. And if you house catches fire, you better get a lawn chair and a coke, cause if you can't put it out yourself, all you can do is watch it burn. If you have a law enforcement issue, the Sheriff's Deputy's normally get out there when they can, and even they have problems with the roads and getting around in the area.

All we want is to get something for the increased taxes we are paying. And roadways seem like a good place to start. We'll worry about a corner store later . . .

These Updates are in reverse chronological order - oldest ones at the start . . . newest ones are at the end.

Update - May 2010
Petition for Patton Road Bridge

Every now and then the skies will open up and we'll get a decent rain. When that happens, the washes start to run down from the hills to the north causing some pretty significant and dramatic flash floods. Most are not that severe, but when there is enough rain, the Hassayampa River starts to trickle, then gurgle, then roar. When there is significant rainfall, the Maricopa County Flood Control District has the Sheriff come out and close the gates on Patton Road on both sides of the river as a safety measure. They don't want anyone getting hurt by being washed away. And we understand that. Folks have lost their lives at this very spot in the past, and none of us want any repeats of that event.

When the gates on Patton Road are closed, it is sometimes for a day, and sometimes it is for longer. Locals report that they have seen Patton Road closed for over a week in the past. So there's no way in or out of Whispering Ranch unless you are willing to make the trek all the way over to the west side of Whispering Ranch and try to get out to Vulture Mine Road. The difficulty is that you have to cross the Star Wash, Syndicate Wash, Daggs Wash and then the Box Wash just to get to Vulture Mine Road. And if there has been enough rain to make the Hassayampa River run, you can bet these wash areas are active too! So you're stuck. Forget about going to work, getting any groceries, picking up any prescriptions or making any doctor's appointments. Your only option is to wait it out until the County re-opens the Gates on Patton Road.

One of our property owners (Enrico) has been pressuring the Maricopa County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) to start the process of getting a bridge put in so this wouldn't be a problem in the future. In the past, they were not too concerned about the issue, but now there are more people living in Whispering Ranch, and thus more reason to start this process.

Recently, a letter was circulated, asking that people start writing, calling and sending letters to MCDOT making their wishes known. To see a copy of this letter, click here. A petition is being prepared for signatures by residents, for delivery to MCDOT officials at a public meeting. Your support for this action is requested. It is obvious that in the current deficit budget situation there is little possibility of a bridge being constructed soon, but it is important to get this issue in front of them so planning for the future roadway improvements will include this item.

Or, if you want to support this idea by contacting Enrico by e-mail, click here. He should be able to provide you with more information, contact addresses, phone numbers and e-mail information if you are so inclined.

Update - January 2011
Announcement of Approval for Roadway Construction

On October 11, 2010, I received a call from Brian Patterson of Kimley-Horn and Associates. It seems that they were one of the four engineering firms who were in the running to submit proposals to the Maricopa County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) for the engineering and construction studies for the Hidden Waters Parkway. About a week later, Brian contacted me once again and informed me that they were selected to do the work on the Yuma Parkway (one of the other planned roadways in the west valley area), and gave me the contact information at the company that was awarded the contract for the Hidden Waters Parkway. He also indicated he had given my information to his contact at MCDOT.

Early in November, I contacted Maricopa County Department of Transportation. They verified the information I had been given and indicated that for the next month or two they were going through all of the requisite paperwork toward the final approval of the contracts by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. These contracts were to be approved at either the December or January meeting of the County Board of Supervisors. I couldn't wait any longer, so on January 5th I went to the MCDOT office and met with the Senior Planner for this project. I felt this information was important enough to pass along to you.

The Hidden Waters Parkway is planned to start in the southwest valley and run from the 801 (a reliever highway planned just parallel to and just south of I-10) north to I-10 following a path west of the Hassayampa River continuing north through the east part of Tonopah into Douglas Ranch, then Whispering Ranch. Plans are to have this Parkway intersect with the planned extension of Highway 74 about two miles north of Whispering Ranch. In Arizona, a Parkway will be a minimum of four lanes (maximum of eight lanes) with a center divider and traffic signals at significant intersections. The minimum right of way for parkway design is 200 feet. Normally, additional lanes are not added to a Parkway unless there is enough traffic demand.

The portion of the Hidden Waters Parkway projected to run through Whispering Ranch is a north-south alignment starting in the Jomax Road and 306th Avenue area and running north-north-east drifting to the east until it intersects with Dove Valley Road. At this point it runs due north approximately along the 301st or 302nd Avenue alignment. This alignment will run between two sets of hills at the north end of the Ranch and will continue north to connect with the western extension of Highway 74 which currently ends at Grand Avenue (Highway 60) in Morristown. This was the recommendation for the route, but as studies proceed it might make more sense to vary this route and run through Whispering Ranch in a different alignment. A lot of what will happen depends on whether the impacted lots of any selected alignment are occupied or vacant. The County does not want to have to move any residents if there is an alternative, thus the alignment may change slightly or, possibly, dramatically. In essence, there is no plan etched in stone at this point. Their goal is to provide the best route depending on engineering problems (crossing washes or arroyos) and minimizing disruption of current area residents.

Over the next few months, you will see some Maricopa County Department of Transportation vehicles in the area looking at the terrain and preparing information for this study. This study will need to be completed within one year, but it might be completed earlier. I have agreed to provide them with what insight I have on the area as they start their studies to determine what is the most effective and efficient roadway path through the Ranch. So if you see me with a group of folks in tow, please feel free to introduce yourself and give your input. Or should you see folks just wandering around and looking at the area, cooperate with them as well.

There will be meetings in the future with the folks from MCDOT to keep everyone informed of what's happening. From the preliminary schedules, we will probably start having meetings in June, after they have a chance to nose around and get their plans in place. They will be able to answer questions and provide timelines at these meetings. And as we get a little farther along into the process, there will be regular updates on their web site if you feel the need to check in. There is no established date to start any construction. Any construction activity will depend on how economic conditions change, demand for these improvements and area growth statistics.

In any event, once these planned roadways become public knowledge and the word starts to spread, there will be renewed interest in the area. There will be investors and speculators who will probably be sending out letters trying to pick up parcels at "bargain basement" prices. These investors and speculators know that values will start an upward run and will want to get in when prices are low. You need to be aware of this as well. If you are interested in selling your property, getting it on the market before the rush starts will get you in on the ground floor. Lots of folks waited a little too long previously and their property didn't sell. Or it might be in your best interest to hold on a while longer and let demand push parcel prices upward. Just don't wait too long, or you might miss out again. The upward market movement hasn't started yet, but it will once the word gets out that the 'roadways are coming' ! !

To view the map of the proposed roadways, click here, or cut and paste this in your web browser. http://www.bqaz.org/pdf/has/map/BQAZ_Has_2009-03-23_Large-Framework-Recommendation_022208-(3).pdf
Once the map is displayed find the Toyota Technical Center. Whispering Ranch is just to the north and east of Toyota.

Update - February 2011
Wickenburg Roadway Wish List

Back in August, the Town of Wickenburg looked at the various proposals for roadways and came up with their preferred roadways. One of the items indicated was that Dove Valley Road would be a major arterial roadway running east to west through Whispering Ranch continuing west about halfway to Aguila, then turning north and heading north to connect with Highway 71 at Highway 60 to the west of Wickenburg. These planning maps also include the Black Mountain Parkway and Eagle Mountain Parkway to the west of Whispering Ranch that run north and west around Wickenburg. These roadways were not part of any of the original MAG planning, but would definitely be a plus as this area of the County grows in the future. Here is the link to the map Wickenburg Requests Map if you want to take a look at this proposed plan.

Update - April 2011

>I attended the Transportation Advisory Committee Meeting on Wednesday April 13, 2011 at the Maricopa County Department of Transportation offices. The meeting was well attended by representatives of the area representatives for the various towns involved, the local developments (Douglas Ranch and Belmont) and the hands on workers involved in the planning of the roadway. On Thursday, I met with Engineering firm representatives and the Senior Planner from the Department of Transportation and we drove the area under study looking at terrain (washes, arroyo's, etc.) and current status of vacant and developed parcels along the path. This proposed path is approximately where I had envisioned it, but we'll have to wait and see where the final alignment actually goes. Planning should take the rest of this year, and parcel assemblage may start in 2012.

Update - November 2011

Over the summer, I attended the Advisory Committee meetings and watched as the engineers and planners from the various Town, City, County, State and Federal agencies and the water and power providers all made their recommendations and a final alignment for the Hidden Waters Parkway came to light. As anticipated, the proposed alignment will start at Jomax and 304th Avenue (the southern portion of eastern Whispering Ranch) and heading northeast, hitting 299th Avenue south of Patton Road, then following the 299th Avenue alignment northward doing a few minor sideways zigs and zags to avoid the large wash on the east side of 299th Avenue, then heading north along 301st Avenue out through the north end of Whispering Ranch. I have a copy of the map showing the proposed alignment, so if you want to know if your parcel is impacted, let me know and I'll check it out. For a more "official" view of this process, you can get with Denise Lacey, Senior Planner, Maricopa County Department of Transportation. (602) 506-6172 or you can e-mail her at deniselacey@mail.maricopa.gov . There is no idea when they might start construction on this roadway . . . with the economy slow, and development plans on hold (for the moment) there is no compelling reason to start any projects of this type. Once the economy recovers it will be nice to at least know there is some sort of relief on the horizon for our lack of decent roads.

Update - January 2012

In a meeting at the Maricopa County Department of Transportation in December, I was informed that the next project being planned is the Dove Valley Parkway. This will be announced in the Fall of 2012. For years, it has been obvious that the parcels along the south side of Dove Valley Road in Whispering Ranch that are part of the easement for the 500KV transmission lines are severly limited in their use - so it is the likely place to put in a roadway. What's interesting is that the study extends to the east to Grand Avenue. I guess they will either have rafts, or possibly a ferry system available to get folks across the Hassayampa River, or they might have to put in a bridge. So don't look for this one to happen in the near future either. But at least there is some planning in the works so there will be some roadways in the future.

Update - November 2012

Earlier this month, I received an invitation to participate as a member of the "Transportation Advisory Committee" which will be having its first meeting to discuss the newly announced "Dove Valley Parkway" study. This meeting - in late November - is where the process begins to define the preferred route for this planned roadway. The interesting thing about the planning for this Parkway is that the study area will start at Grand Avenue (Highway 60 between Phoenix and Wickenburg) on the east and run to the center of Whispering Ranch. A quick glimpse of the map reveals that there is one obstacle which has not been addressed in the past - how to traverse the Hassayampa River. Will it be a bridge? Or could it be a "Wash Out" roadway like some of those crossing through the Indian Bend Wash in Scottsdale. Or maybe they will put in a ramp, and if you get up enough speed, you can jump the river . . . just kidding on this one. I'll keep you updated on what's happening and how to see what the plans are for this roadway as time moves forward.

Update - August 2018

With the acquisition of a controlling interst in the Belmont subdivision by the Gates group, there is more forward movement on a number of the planned roadways in the area. Interstate 11 is finally nearing the final recommended alignment in the West Valley and will probably start moving dirt in 2020. Both Bill Gates (Belmont - 80,000 homes) and Jerry Colangelo (Douglas Ranch - 100,000 homes) are pushing for roadways since there's no sense to start developments if you can't get there by car. There is pressure from folks with financial and political influence to get the roads going so they can start the developments and reap the benefits of their investments and forsight. If you go to the "Maps" section of this web site, you can see some of the maps and plans in those areas. And you can connect to some of the towns and cities that will be impacted by these roadway improvements. Or you can shoot me an e-mail, and I'll send you what information I can. Or you can sign up for the occasional Newsletters that I send out as information is available on the things that have an impact on the area.

There will be more information as the plot thickens . . . .

Liberty Southwest Realty, LLC

Joseph D. (Joe) Liberty, Designated Broker
20446 North 275th Drive
Buckeye, Arizona 85396
Phone: (602) 505-7675

Last updated August 2018 - J. D. Liberty/Webmaster

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