Mon, Feb. 24

Mingus extension project comes to an end

Now, the 2-mile road extension is almost complete. Motorists should be driving it by the beginning of January 2005.

When finished, the extension of Mingus will cross the Verde River with a 1,000-foot bridge and will link with Cornville Road at Arizona 89A, creating a four-way intersection.

Plans for the extension came about in 1985. Cottonwood did some feasibility studies in the area and put the extension project on their long-range transportation plans.

The county and the city have since entered into an intergovernmental agreement. Cottonwood contributed about $1 million to the costs and was responsible for the traffic signal at the Main and Mingus intersection.

It was back in February 2003 that the project really got rolling.

Yavapai County spent $2,214,000 for 369 acres from the Arizona State Land Department in order to receive clearance from the Corps of Engineers and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

The 369 acres was a necessary buy because of stipulations that come along with crossing watercourses. The land was not used for the extension project itself, but for the conservation of the endangered plant species, the cliff rose.

Ground was broken in July 2003 and the work progressed fast.

By April 2004, the traffic signal was installed and much of the roadwork near the residential areas at Mingus and Main was complete.

April was also the month that work came to a halt.

At the time, the county's project management director Byron Jaspers said the reason for the shutdown was a concern for the Southwestern willow flycatcher.

The flycatcher is a bird currently on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's list of endangered species. Since the Verde River is a potential habitat for the bird, federal law mandates that construction can not take place within a quarter mile of the river.

Work started up again in July 2004 and by September the frame for the bridge crossing the Verde River was up. Crews worked on pouring the concrete, installing guardrails and finishing up some paving.

In the months that have followed, more clean up has taken place. Finishing touches have been completed.

Now that the project is nearing completion, there is a ribbon cutting celebration that has been scheduled for Jan. 8. The road should be open to motorists soon after that.

The celebration will make the 2-mile stretch of road open to pedestrians from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. An official ribbon cutting is scheduled to take place on the new bridge at noon.

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