56th Street Improvements Project Featured in Arizona APWA Newsletter Print

The following article about Achen-Gardner Construction's 56th Street Improvements Project for the Town of Paradise Valley was featured in the July issue of the Arizona Chapter American Public Works Association (APWA) Newsletter.

56th Street Improvements CMAR Project – Transforming a Residential Street into an “Iconic Visually Significant Corridor”

Article and Photos by Achen-Gardner Construction, LLC

Project Background:  

Utilizing the Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) project delivery method, the Town of Paradise Valley brought together the CK Group and Achen-Gardner Construction to complete the design and construction of the Town’s first “Iconic Visually Significant Corridor”. 56th Street between McDonald Drive and Lincoln Drive offers pedestrians and motorists amazing views as it is positioned between two landmark mountains, Camelback Mountain to the south and Mummy Mountain to the north. This stretch of road is also flanked by exciting growth and change, the redevelopment of Mountain Shadows Resort and Golf Course on the west side and Cullum Homes’ new residential community to the east side. 56th Street also provides access and connectivity to the Sanctuary Resort and El Chorro restaurant. All of these elements contribute to 56th Street’s importance and they are central to defining this corridor as a distinctive and memorable experience for occasional resort goers and local residents alike. 


Design Character of the Project:

This project served as the inspiration for the development of the Town’s “Iconic Visually Significant Corridor ” guidelines for similar future projects.  The Town provided the forum for extensive public input to many features from roadway alignment to landscaping to custom character elements while balancing constructability and best value of initial and life-cycle costs.  The following criteria were crucial to the design and creation of a unique sense of place:

  • Traffic calming
  • Accommodation of pedestrians and bicyclists
  • Creation of a “Wow” visual by directing the corridor views looking north at Mummy Mountain and South at Camelback Mountain
  • Observance of the Paradise Valley dark sky ordinance
  • Distinctive features with cohesive southwest design elements
  • Connectivity to the landmark amenities both north and south of the corridor (Sanctuary Resort, El Chorro Restaurant, Mountain Shadows Resort and Golf Course, Echo Canyon to the West)
  • Safety
  • Security
  • Privacy
  • Maintenance

Working with Stakeholders
Planning throughout the design and construction phases was critical to ensuring that all stakeholders were not just considered but accommodated as well. Extensive planning included:

  • Public meetings during the planning, conceptual, and design stages.
  • Separate public sessions that invited participation in selection of the roadway alignment, landscape, and hardscape features.
  • Comments and feedback from the public utilized at all stages of the project.
  • Providing continuous signage and access.
  • Extensive public communications coordinated by the Town’s Project Manager and Achen-Gardner’s construction team public outreach.
  • Traffic control continually monitored and adjusted by the Town and Achen-Gardner to safely facilitate construction activities, public travel, ongoing pedestrian access.
  • Accommodation of the five residents whose only access was on 56th Street included daily individual communication directly between Achen-Gardner’s Project Superintendent and the residents and included scheduling construction of driveways and paving with each resident based on their personal schedules to minimize the impact on their day-to-day activities.

Preparation and Phasing

Determining the most effective construction phasing of the project was a result of several factors considered together:

  • Relocation of existing private utility conflicts  - based on identification, design, and relocation schedule of the utility companies.
  • Public Needs and accessibility - that included Town specified construction hours and maintenance of southbound traffic at all times.
  • Shortest possible duration
  • Sequential Construction Activities - that required a specific progression such as early relocation of utility conflicts followed by construction of the sewer followed by the surface improvements.
  • Logical Phased Segments – through evaluation of the current access needs of Mountain Shadows West, Cullum Homes, and 56th Street residents, the project was scheduled in three phases as shown below.

 3363100-56th-street-graphicProject Phasing and Scope of Work

Phase 1 included the north 400 LF of 56th Street and driveways consisting of decorative pavers and concrete flatwork. This segment of roadway was completed quickly and provided access in and out of the Mountain Shadows Resort properties and Cullum Homes development. Improvements also included the traffic signal equipment at the intersection of 56th Street and Lincoln Drive,

Phase 2 consisted of constructing the east 2/3 of 56th Street beginning at the Phase 1 completion boundary south to McDonald Drive and included a single asphalt lane, raised landscaped and paver medians, curb and gutter, private residential driveways to match existing materials, landscaping, sidewalk and matching existing pavement on McDonald Drive. Additionally, the frontage to El Chorro Restaurant on Lincoln Drive was transformed from overgrown oleanders to a southwest style stucco wall with new landscaping.

Phase 3 constructed the west 1/3 of 56th Street beginning at the Phase 1 completion boundary south to McDonald Drive and included iconic hardscape elements as well as accessibility improvements to the nearby Sanctuary Resort. This phase included the single asphalt southbound lane, curb and gutter, meandering sidewalk, drainage contouring and rip rap, a multi-use pathway with curbing, a unique shade node with laser cut metal panels, pavers, and stacked stone seat walls and support columns, landscaping, rusted frame wayfinding signage, creative metal screens and gates that camouflage the APS equipment cabinets while providing approved access requirements and feature laser cut silhouettes of Camelback Mountain and rusted gabion retaining walls. Additionally, surface paving, adjustments, and striping were completed during this phase.

Teamwork and Project Success

The process allowed for the commencement of construction while final design was being completed. The Project Team worked in a very fluid and cohesive manner to address issues as they arose, keeping the project on budget, and making the necessary adjustments to schedule, sequence, and traffic control to maintain the project flow while accommodating those directly affected by the construction.

Custom design elements required ongoing design and constructability evaluation and field adjustments throughout the construction of the features. The CMAR process provided the opportunity to contribute valuable constructability input during the design phase and supported the important continuous involvement of the design staff during construction.

Proactively staying out in front of potential issues is the key to project success. Weekly or biweekly team site walks were made to evaluate construction in progress. Town project staff was intimately involved at every level and made decisions quickly. This allowed the team to identify issues quickly, make necessary adjustments, and continue moving forward without delays.


Project Owner: Town of Paradise Valley

CMAR/General Contractor: Achen-Gardner Construction, LLC

Designer: The CK Group, Inc.

Major Subconsultants: Service Engineering Design Consultants (El Chorro Wall), National Sign Plazas, Inc. (Wayfinding Signage)

Major Subcontractors: MakPro Services (Public Outreach), B&F Contracting, Inc. (Electrical), ISS Grounds Control, Inc. (Landscaping),  RGG United Contractors, Inc. (El Chorro Wall), Magnum Companies (Custom Metal Elements), Integrated Masonry (Stone Features), Creative Metals (Gates), European Pavers (Pavers), SmithCraft Custom Signs & Graphics (Wayfinding Signage)

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To read the article in the July issue of the Arizona APWA Newsletter Click Here