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Yavapai County announces B2 South/Coury Drive as desired Verde Connect road

Once all the build alternatives were rated, Alternative B2 South was identified as the highest performing build alternative and is recommended to be fully evaluated in an environmental assessment. Map courtesy of Yavapai County

Once all the build alternatives were rated, Alternative B2 South was identified as the highest performing build alternative and is recommended to be fully evaluated in an environmental assessment. Map courtesy of Yavapai County

VERDE VALLEY – Yavapai County announced Wednesday that it would like to link SR 260 to Cornville Road with a connector road from Coury Drive to Beaverhead Flat Road.

Developing and screening what the county’s July 17 press release called a universe of alternatives, the Verde Connect project team narrowed seven build options to the preferred alternative, the route known as B2 South.

The county, according to the press release, will also fully evaluate a second option – to not build the road at all.

“The purpose of the initial screening was to identify a preferred alternative to move forward into the [National Environmental Policy Act] analysis along with the no-build alternative,” Yavapai County Public Works Director Dan Cherry stated in the press release. “We are pleased to have reached this milestone and are moving into detailed analysis now.”

According to the alternatives scoring and screening matrix, B2 South would be about 9.4 miles.

Alternatives evaluated

Alternatives were evaluated based on construction and maintenance, engineering feasibility, environmental elements, regional mobility, and social and economic considerations.

The five categories were each compared in 37 different performance measures based on available datasets and geographic information system analysis, coordination with agencies, aerial photography, public input, and preliminary field investigation.

Performance measures for each alternative were given a score of highly performing/low impact, medium performing/moderate impact, or low performing/high impact.

Highest-performing build

Once all the build alternatives were rated, Alternative B2 South was identified as the highest performing build alternative and is recommended to be fully evaluated in an environmental assessment, as well as the no-build alternative.

District 2 Supervisor Tom Thurman said Wednesday that the Coury to Beaverhead Flat Road route was the only one he would have recommended.

“This keeps the highway noise behind the mesas from the Middle Verde residents,” Thurman said. “Now a smaller secondary route for the local residents needs to be discussed showing the benefits of connectivity, especially for emergencies. I understand the fears of many that a freeway would bifurcate their neighborhood, but rest assured we would never do that. ”

According to Thurman, “the benefit of this road for the future of traffic for more than 90,000 residents can now be achieved.”

‘Only viable option’

Verde Connect opponent, Middle Verde resident Zach Wolfe, said Wednesday that the “only viable option for bridge construction would be in the river corridor near the Coury Road roundabout.”

“In many ways, it’s a relief to have a final route,” Wolfe said. “For over a year now, the public has been focused on asking the question of where. Now we will finally be able to focus on the most important question. Why?”

According to Thurman, taxes already earmarked for the county’s Regional Roads program would go toward any bond that would pay for the Verde Connect project.

“The cost of this project will not raise property taxes and will not reduce the funding levels for our existing road maintenance program in any way,” Thurman said.

The county did not recommend two of the seven routes. B2 South was one of two alternatives to use Coury Drive and Beaverhead Flat Road. Of the other three, two used Old HWY 279 and one used Thousand Trails Road.

Last year, the county was awarded a $25 million Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development grant to help build the connector road and bridge.

Go to VerdeConnect.com for various materials related to the connector road project, such as the alternative screening matrix and a map of the alternatives.

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42

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