The Verde Valley’s most dangerous intersections

Higher traffic volumes make Cottonwood the local leader in vehicle accidents

State Route 89A and SR 260, the third worst offending intersection at 17 accidents in 2016, was named the number-one transportation priority in the Verde Valley last month by the Cottonwood City Council. Both highways were prioritized for future traffic-easing projects by the city council. VVN/Vyto Starinskas

State Route 89A and SR 260, the third worst offending intersection at 17 accidents in 2016, was named the number-one transportation priority in the Verde Valley last month by the Cottonwood City Council. Both highways were prioritized for future traffic-easing projects by the city council. VVN/Vyto Starinskas

The Verde Valley’s Most Dangerous Intersections

2016 statistics provided by individual Verde Valley municipalities

  1. State Route 260 & Fir Street (26)
  2. State Route 89A & Main Street (18)
  3. State Route 260 & 89A (17)
  4. Main Street & Mingus (10)
  5. 89A & 12th St. (12)
  6. Route 89A & Cornville (13)
  7. Montezuma Castle Parkway (7)
  8. 89A & Centerville Roundabout (7)
  9. State Route 260 & Rodeo (7)
  10. 89A & Lisa St. (6)

A motorcyclist was flown to Flagstaff Medical Center Sept. 16 -- the biggest night of Thunder Valley Rally -- after a Toyota Tacoma made a left-hand turn in front of the biker at the intersection of State Route 260 and Fir in Cottonwood. The motorcyclist collided with the passenger side of the truck, then stuck a third vehicle before coming to a stop on the street in front of the CVS Pharmacy.

Statistically, the intersection was a likely location for the accident to occur.

As the most-dangerous intersection in the Verde Valley, there were 26 vehicle accidents at the intersection of State Route 260 and Fir Street in 2016.

Unsurprisingly to rush-hour commuters, Cottonwood has the most accidents of any town in the Verde Valley. Despite the population of Cottonwood being approximately the same as Camp Verde, there were 102 more accidents in Cottonwood in 2016.

According to Sgt. Monica Kuhlt of the Cottonwood Police Department, driver inattentiveness and an influx of traffic are factors leading to the significant amount of accidents. The 14 rear-ends and eight failure to yields that occurred at State Route 260 and Fir indicate as vehicles slow at the intersection, inattentive drivers are the cause of collisions, according to Kuhlt. Texting was cited as a major source of inattentiveness.

There were also three accidents as drivers turned left out of the Fry’s parking lot.

The intersection is managed by the Arizona Department of Transportation, not the City of Cottonwood.

“In general I would say traffic will likely get worse before we see relief, and this relief must come from the assistance of ADOT, as the majority of problem intersections are in their domain,” said Cottonwood Mayor Tim Elinski.

At No. 2 on the list with 18 accidents was State Route 89A and Main Street in Cottonwood. Once again, most of the accidents at this intersection in 2016 were rear-end collisions.

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As the most-dangerous intersection in the Verde Valley, there were 26 vehicle accidents at the intersection of State Route 260 and Fir Street in 2016. VVN/Vyto Starinskas

State Route 89A and SR 260, the third worst offending intersection at 17 accidents in 2016, was named the number-one transportation priority in the Verde Valley last month by the Cottonwood City Council. Both highways were prioritized for future traffic-easing projects by the city council.

“The bottom line is we all share in the problems and solutions, one remedy for one community may have a negative result in another. Moving forward, I want to address traffic flow regionally and work towards mutually beneficial solutions,” Mayor Elinski said.

The intersection, which is not the traditional 90-degree street crossing, services the main commercial corridor of the Verde Valley. The Arizona Department of Transportation plans to direct traffic from Interstate 17 to Sedona through Cottonwood after the SR 260 project is complete – adding to the load of the already highly-trafficked intersection.

Jerome did not make the list of dangerous intersections, despite the Jerome Chamber of Commerce’s estimate of 1 million tourists that drive through the smallest of the Verde Valley’s towns every year. Jerome had about as many accidents as Clarkdale (the top four accident sites of Clarkdale occurring at four roundabouts.)

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ddayson 10 months, 4 weeks ago

What?

"The Arizona Department of Transportation plans to direct traffic from Interstate 17 to Sedona through Cottonwood after the SR 260 project is complete."

Who is in charge of this decision?! How does Sedona get that privilege? This is not a sound plan. Who in their right mind would intentionally cause more traffic through an area so dangerous? Am I wrong in thinking this will cause more accidents, maybe deaths? How can this be fixed? Can we not get a better plan than this?

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IzzatSo 10 months, 4 weeks ago

May I suggest exiting I-17 in Rimrock, exit 293, taking Cornville Road to Page Springs Road, then 89A into Sedona. Sure, it's not 4 lane divided highway, but hey, enjoy the country at a slower pace. What? Go slower? Heresy!

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