Tue, Feb. 25

Traffic jam the result of man-made bottlenecks in Sedona

Tom Graham, President, Big Park Regional Coordination Council

Tom Graham, President, Big Park Regional Coordination Council

For the past several months, the No. 1 topic of conversation in the Village is the traffic congestion on SR 179 and 89A, originating at the double-roundabouts at the “Y."

Many have commented that they now do not drive on 179 or 89A to Sedona for fear of being caught up in a 45-60 minute traffic jam in the northbound lane of each highway.

At the May meeting, the Big Park Council members civilly discussed this issue for about 30-40 minutes. Soon thereafter, I was informed that the City of Sedona was in “talks” with ADOT about diverting traffic from 179 to 260 as an alternate route to Sedona.

No Village leaders were invited to participate in those “talks."

As a result, I invited our County Supervisor, Randy Garrison, to give us a report on this matter at the Council’s June meeting.

Supervisor Garrison, who has excellent connections with ADOT, spoke to the Council about the traffic “diversion” electronic signs that ADOT will be erecting as part of the statewide initiative to complete the build-out of the Amber Alert System, and also to provide traffic flow information based upon the real-time Google traffic system.

He reported that ADOT will be placing four electronic signs in our area after the completion of the 260-highway project now under construction:

• One at I-17 near the Flagstaff Airport that will include travel times to Sedona if you use Oak Creek Canyon or 179.

• One at the I-17 & 179 interchange, the I-17 & 260 interchange and at I-17 near the top of Copper Canyon, south of Camp Verde, which will give travel times to Sedona if you use 179 through the Village or 260 through Cottonwood.

It is anybody’s guess whether these traffic diversion signs will solve, or even alleviate, the congestion problem.

Although the Council has not taken an official position on a solution to this issue, it is my personal view that the root cause of the problem is not being addressed: the bottleneck at the “Y”, exacerbated by the “Yield to Pedestrians” signs at Tlaquepaque and Uptown.

This traffic problem has been “studied” and continues to be “studied”:

• Sedona City Council in April 2016, contracted with Kimley-Horn Consulting at a price of $250,000 to study traffic issues.

• Joint Venture of Yavapai County/ADOT/VVPTO (a Verde Valley Transportation Planning Organization) in November 2015 completed the Verde Valley Master Transportation Study.

Some officials call 179 a “failing road." It is not a “failing road” - it is delivering its traffic to the “Y."

It is the man-made bottlenecks at Tlaquepaque, the “Y” and beyond that are failing the mission to keep traffic flowing.

Who is responsible to fix that?

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