Sun, Dec. 15

Commentary: Cornville Road upgrades more pressing need than Verde Connect

Tom Eder

Tom Eder

Thank you for expressing your opinions concerning Verde Connect in your Aug. 1 editorial. It is important that all views on controversial subjects receive a broad and fair airing.

I don’t have any issues with what you wrote in the subject editorial. I do have some issues with what you didn’t choose to include in your writing.

The Verde Valley Transportation Planning Organization is a public body and has a website that posts agenda, minutes, etc.

There are minutes posted for Jan, 22, 2013, and for Jan. 30, 2019.

No minutes were posted for the intervening six years.

If meetings were held during these six years, where are the minutes? If there were meetings during this interval, Verde Connect must have been discussed. What is being hidden, and why?

Given the above information, how can you recommend that VVTPO play a key future role? What’s going to be different?

Your editorial’s third paragraph positions the connection of 260 to Beaverhead Flats Road as being 20 years in the making. Later paragraphs in your editorial reference a (long-standing) desire for a connection between 260 and Middle Verde Road.

These two connections are dramatically different. State Route 260 and Middle Verde Road could be connected relatively inexpensively, for example by a low-water crossing that would be available on all but a few days when the river is higher than some specified level.

The extension of a major river bridge and road all the way to Beaverhead Flats Road is a major, very expensive, and unfunded matter.

In a July 25, 2019, letter from J. Cameron that you published, J. Cameron states Verde Connect “...will require over $50 million to be fully funded...”

I have no idea the origin of this $50 million figure, or if it is accurate. The Verde Connect proponents have not chosen to reveal their view of the amount required for full funding.

Months ago I saw public figures of about $10 million beyond the $25 million BUILD grant. What is the full cost of Verde Connect?  How will this be funded?

Your quote of Terry Keller is probably accurate, but does not tell the whole story. I believe that it is absolutely true that any “first responder” like Terry Keller would always submit that one more bridge or one more road would offer a benefit to public safety.

The real question around a proposal for “one more bridge or road” would have to be around the costs to provide and the benefits that would accrue.

I have not seen a cost/benefit analysis of Verde Connect’s impact on public safety, and most importantly for the three options of connecting 260 to Middle Verde Road, connecting 260 to Beaverhead Flat Road, and No Build.

I believe Yavapai County has many high-priority road concerns. I believe Verde Connect solves none of them. $25 million in “free money” is not a reason to spend it and then add on a significant amount from local sources.

Better that high-priority needs first receive attention.

I believe Cornville Road traffic now presents high priority issues. Verde Connect’s own data show that Verde Connect will not reduce Cornville Road congestion. It gets equally worse with or without Verde Connect.

My latest information is that the next phase of Cornville Road improvements involves widening shoulders and this won’t happen until October 2021.

This widening of shoulders may improve safety, but will not improve congestion. Why not resolve Cornville Road and other existing high-priority road issues before significant spending on Verde Connect?

Thomas W. Eder is a resident of Cornville.

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