Mon, Jan. 27

Council presented with new traffic control concept

A traffic control concept relatively new to the state may come to the Verde Valley in 2007.

Members of the Cottonwood City Council were shown four alternative plans for a stretch of Arizona 89A that runs from Cement Plant Road to Black Hills Drive. A portion of the highway runs through Clarkdale, part of it is in Cottonwood.

Three of the alternatives contain roundabout intersections. Roundabouts have a raised center circular island and the roadway curves around it. Drivers don't come to a complete stop at the intersection. Instead they yield and continue through the roundabout until they reach the street they need to turn onto.

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) held a public meeting Oct. 9 regarding the four alternative plans.

According to ADOT, alternative four provides the best long-term solution for the highway. Alternative four contains roundabouts at Cement Plant Road, Lincoln Drive/Lisa Street, Groseta Ranch Road and Black Hills Drive.

Alternative four also includes a raised median, curb and gutter, as well as drainage improvements. The plan is the least expensive and provides the best level of service, according to ADOT.

Alvin Stump, the development engineer for ADOT's Prescott District, says roundabouts may be built in other places around the state soon.

"There are lots of places where it make sense to do it," Stump said. "It makes a safer intersection and provides a better level of service."

Arizona 89A is in ADOT's jurisdiction, but Stump said that input from Cottonwood and Clarkdale is very important.

Clarkdale Planner Steven Brown said ADOT has been very cooperative. He likes the idea of roundabouts in an area zoned for commercial development

"I think it's going to be great to get traffic control into place before commercial development comes in," Brown said.

Cottonwood City Engineer Tim Costello, presented the ideas to council Tuesday night. He feels the council was receptive to the new concept. But because the idea is a new one, people tend to think it over more carefully, he said.

"It's a traffic control device that's just come on the scene," Costello said.

There are a number of benefits to roundabouts, Costello said. Because all traffic is moving in the same direction around the roundabout, there are fewer accidents.

"Accidents in these things are far less severe," Costello said. "There just aren't fatalities. It doesn't happen."

Cars don't have to sit at red lights, a benefit to the environment, Costello said.

There's been a plan to improve 89A for years. Costello said a design concept report was written in 1996 and paid for by Yavapai County. The plan got picked up by ADOT and put on their five-year construction plan in 2001. Roundabouts weren't considered until just recently.

"What ADOT will prefer and what we prefer, is that we all agree," Costello said. "They don't want a local community vehemently opposed."

ADOT is accepting comments from the public until Nov. 1.

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