Alternate 260 route offers best solution
We still contend the best solution is one that Yavapai County Supervisor Chip Davis already had proposed.
First, a little history:
Last year, Davis struck a deal with the Arizona Department of Transportation to lend ADOT money up front in exchange for having the widening of Arizona 260 moved up on its priority list.
Davis' intentions were to create a badly needed transportation corridor between Cottonwood and Camp Verde and Interstate 17. Since then, however, commercial interests have skewed that plan. The old game of lot-splitting complete with requests to have immediate access to 260 have taken firm hold.
What originally was envisioned as a transportation corridor was being reinvented as a commercial corridor before even a single mile of new asphalt was laid.
So, instead, Davis came up with a new route for a 260 corridor, leaving commercial interests to have their way with the existing 260 route. As we've said of Davis in the past, he has a way of taking a page from the book of legendary Australian photographer Frank Hurley: "Find a way or make a way."
Davis' plan calls for an unencumbered transportation corridor linking the existing 260 as it leaves Cottonwood with the General Crook Trail at its intersection with I-17.
He'll leave the existing 260 to the ebb and flow of economic realities.
We hope other local leaders will make the same distinction as Davis in the difference between transportation and commercial corridors as the Valley continues to grow.
Clarkdale council members in the 1980s, for example, once championed the concept of frontage roads along Arizona 89A between Cottonwood and Clarkdale. The idea was to create a "best of both worlds" scenario between transportation and commercial interests.
They did this in response to what they saw happening in Cottonwood in the early days of the 89A Bypass. Cottonwood allowed a transportation corridor to be converted into a commercial district. The result is the accident-waiting-to-happen stretch of roadway from Sixth Street to 89A's intersection with Main Street that we see today.
Unfortunately, Clarkdale caved in to real estate interests and the frontage road requirement was abandoned.
Either by luck or design, Camp Verde didn't make the same mistake on old 260 just east of the White Bridge.
There you will find a frontage road on the south side of 260, thus allowing commercial interests to flourish without violating an important transportation route.
Perhaps the best example in the state of the value offrontage roads can be found along Arizona 95 in Lake Havasu City. There, the transportation path is uninterrupted except at major intersections with lights, where motorists have access to the frontage roads that lead to commercial districts.
The concept of distinguishing between transportation and commercial corridors will be important to the future of the Verde Valley. Key areas for the study of such should be along the new Mingus Avenue extension, or along Arizona 89A between Cornville Road and Bill Gray Road.
As we grow, let's hope our leaders address such issues with the same kind of innovation and common sense displayed by Supervisor Davis.