Letter: Verde Connect bridge will likely become largest homeless shelter in Northern Arizona
Constrained by its 2018 BUILD application for federal monies for a bridge, the Yavapai County’s Verde Connect project is absolutely committed to building a bridge over the Verde River, from S.R. 260 to West Middle Verde Road.
The 2018 BUILD grant application they wrote for these funds described a 57-foot wide bridge with two highway-sized lanes, two enormous 8-foot-wide shoulders and two very, very unusual 8-foot-wide sidewalks (four-feet wide is customary.)
The casual observer considers that this ostensibly Verde Connect ‘two-lane’ bridge could be easily converted by repaving to four-lane at any time in the future.
The problem then is the ‘future’ and when that’s supposed to happen.
At the June 2019 Camp Verde ‘open house’ conducted by Verde Connect, a question was posed to Dan Cherry, the head of Yavapai County Public Works, the lead agency tasked with road projects in the county, and of course one of the prominent faces tasked with promoting Verde Connect: “Given the problems and clean-up costs the Prescott National Forest Service is having with careless and irresponsible transients already camping illegally in the Prescott National Forest areas throughout the Verde Valley, and particularly near the Thousand Trails Verde River access areas, what might happen if this massive bridge is built without secured funding for Part Two -- the very expensive Forest Road 119A work?
Potentially for years, it wouldn’t be connected to anything more than the currently quiet neighborhoods at the end of West Middle Verde? Could Verde Connect’s bridge potentially become the largest homeless shelter in Northern Arizona?
Dan Cherry postulated that fences could be installed to deter transients and their typical public health/security issues from gaining access to the proposed bridge, and thus from gaining easy access to the neighborhoods and tax-paying families residing at West Middle Verde.
J. Cameron, Camp Verde