Tue, April 07

Clarkdale: No stoplights on 260

Clarkdale Vice Mayor Jerry Wiley's take on the plans for Arizona 260 is simple, to the point and shared by his fellow council members.

"I don't want to see any stoplights," Wiley said at Tuesday night's Clarkdale council meeting.

The meeting gave council members a chance to discuss their stance on a recent proposal, which calls for an all-together new road that would bypass the current 260.

For some time, the plan has been to widen the highway that connects Cottonwood to Camp Verde and Interstate 17 to four lanes.

About four years ago, planners from the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) completed designs for the project. Those plans had interchanges, or exits, at certain points along the highway, but no intersections or stoplights.

Money for the project was a problem. ADOT didn't have enough so Yavapai County agreed to loan $41.25 million. As outlined in an intergovernmental agreement, the county would pay $7.2 million in interest and ADOT would pay the principle.

In the time since the original plans were conceived, property values have risen. The new cost estimate puts the project about $26 million over budget.

That hasn't been the only obstacle.

A number of property owners along the 260 corridor also began asking for driveway access along their properties and multiple signalized intersections.

The idea for a new, alternate 260, which would start at the General Crook exit on Interstate 17 and run almost parallel to the current 260 through Forest Service land was recently introduced and has created some discussion in the Verde Valley.

It was clear on Tuesday that the Clarkdale council liked the new idea.

Mayor Doug Von Gausig said it is ADOTs responsibility to provide safe access for drivers, not to build the commercial corridor for Camp Verde.

He said an alternate 260 would relieve some of the traffic along the highway and the lack of stoplights and intersections would prevent a "45-minute trip between Clarkdale and the freeway."

Wiley said everyone's first priority should be to safely increase the traffic flow. The second priority should be to do it in as cost-effective manner as possible, he said.

The vice-mayor seconded Von Gausig's opinion that the obligation lies in getting drivers from Clarkdale to the Interstate quickly and safely.

"God forbid we have another Prescott Valley," Wiley said.

Council member Pat Williams said although she was a little nervous over the idea of cutting through forest land, she likes the idea of an alternate route.

"ADOT is in the business of moving people … I don't think they should be held hostage by a bunch of people who bought land thinking they could get rich quick. That offends me," Williams said.

Von Gausig will take the council's comments with him to a future meeting with Yavapai County Supervisor Chip Davis. According to Von Gausig, that meeting will give Davis a chance to get an idea of what each of the Verde Valley communities thinks of the plan.

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