Verde Connect to announce preferred route Monday
Supervisor Tom Thurman to address Camp Verde Council Wednesday
VERDE VALLEY – A connector road linking SR 260 to Cornville Road is projected to draw traffic volumes of as mamy as 8,000 motorists each day by 2045, according to Yavapai County’s traffic model study.
Yavapai County District 3 Supervisor Randy Garrison said the numbers are significant.
“This road would help some of the impact, said Garrison.
Monday, the Verde Connect group will announce which route it recommends be built in part with a $25 million Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development grant.
Not building a road, Garrison said, “is still an option.”
Wednesday, District 2 Supervisor Tom Thurman will address the Camp Verde Town Council at its regular 6:30 p.m. session at 473 S. Main St., Suite 106.
Diverse transportation network
Changing a community’s roadways also changes the “behavior of how people travel,” Garrison said.
“The Verde Valley has a rather diverse transportation network,” he said. “The extension to Beaverhead Flat would allow people to move to SR 260 or to stay in Camp Verde. Camp Verde would utilize some increased numbers.”
On June 24, Verde Connect posted to its website a traffic modeling study that projects which parts of Cornville Road, SR 260, SR 89A and I-17 would experience low-, medium- and high-congestion by 2025, and by 2045.
The traffic analysis has been conducted for the 2019 existing conditions, 2025 Verde Connect opening year, and 2045 “for all build alternatives,” the study said. The alternatives not shown in the exhibits displayed “very similar results when analyzed during the travel demand model.”
The study includes existing traffic conditions, no-build traffic conditions in 2025 and 2045, opening year traffic conditions in 2025 and build traffic conditions in 2045. The results incorporate information from traffic counts completed in May 2018, April 2019 and June 2019.
The study area is bounded by I-17, SR 260, SR 89A and Cornville Road. The potential roadway and bridge across the Verde River would connect the northern portion of the Yavapai-Apache Nation and the Town of Camp Verde to SR 260.
Of the eight options the county announced in Cottonwood June 11 and in Camp Verde June 12, two are not recommended by the county, and a third is to not build the road.
The other five utilize Beaverhead Flat Road as a connector, with two options also using Coury Drive, two using Old HWY 279 and one using Thousand Trails Road.
In support of Verde Connect
In June, the Camp Verde Town Council voted unanimously to not support the Verde Connect project.
But Mayor Charlie German wrote a letter on June 14, 2018, that asked U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao to “support the Verde Connect BUILD grant application to help fund a critical gap closure from SR 260 and Middle Verde Road.”
“Over the last 25 years, the need to connect these two corridors have been identified as a priority need for the region in both Camp Verde’s long-range planning documents, but also in the Verde Valley’s regional transportation plans,” Mayor German wrote. “I strongly urge your support for this project as it is a significant investment for the region that will continue to promote economic vitality while maintaining and enhancing the quality of life for our region’s residents.
German’s letter is one of 12 that asked Chao to support the grant. Letters were also written by representatives from the Yavapai-Apache Nation, the municipalities of Clarkdale, Sedona and Cottonwood, and Arizona Department of Transportation. Sen. Sylvia Allen, two congressmen and one representative also wrote letters.
“The proposed project would provide a benefit of serving as an alternate route if I-17 were to close for emergencies between SR 260 and Middle Verde Road,” ADOT Northcentral District Engineer Audra E. Merrick wrote on July 11, 2018. “This connection has the potential to significantly reduce the detour length for I-17 traffic.”
Merrick also wrote that the connector road could “also provide emergency responders including police, ambulance, fire departments and wildfire response teams with a critical access route to significantly improve response times for residents.”
“We have significant concerns in the Verde Valley,” he said. “We have transportation issues. When you get into these positions of leadership, you want to make a difference in the limited time you have.”