Phoenix residents rail against street signs

The City of Phoenix may have to repay more than $700,000 to a federal agency, after the city began a street project that neighbors quickly complained about.

The city says they should have been more transparent with residents.

The City of Phoenix planned place six large signs over 7th Avenue and 7th Streets, from Downtown Phoenix all the way to Bell Road, to tell drivers how many minutes it would take to get to certain streets between those destinations. Now the project, and the money used to fund it, is in limbo.

"I came up the street one day and there it was, without any warning and it looked completely out of place," said Lewis Brown, who has lived in a neighborhood off of 7th Avenue, north of Glendale, for 45 years.

City of Phoenix officials say the street signs were going to be used to display travel times.

"This project was initiated in 2011, with the idea we were going to provide real time travel information on 7th Avenue and 7th Street," said Deputy Street Transportation Director Briiana Velez.

The project, which began construction just this year, was largely funded from a grant from the Federal Highways Administration. As soon as the first pole was built, however, neighbors rallied together to reject the signs, and just three days later, the city removed it.

City officials admit they should have been more proactive in letting neighbors know about the project, and to get public input before beginning such a project.

"I think definitely, the lessons learned would be better communication, especially better communication with our stakeholders and the community who are out there," said Velez.

Now, the city may have to pay back the funds.

"Our intention would be to sit down with FHWA and say, 'can we reallocate this funding to a different project'," said Velez. "And so, that would be all up to their discretion if they wanted to allow us to do that."

Meanwhile, neighbors are just glad the signs are out of their sight.

"We'd like to avoid it in this neighborhood if possible," said Brown.

The City Council will decide what to do with this project at a meeting next month.