SAFE OR UNSAFE? FIX IT OR NOT?
by Ivan Finley
SAFE OR UNSAFE? A study funded by A.D.O.T. in 1992 shows that
in a five year period from May 1st, 1989 through April 30, 1994
there were 332 accidents on Highway 179.
179 injuries in 113 injury accidents. Three people were killed
in two accidents. Two hundred forty of these accidents were inside
our city limits, with the greater numbers rising the closer you
get to the intersection at 89A. So I think you will agree that
if the highway was not safe then, we have done nothing since to
make it safer.
have been the cause of numerous closures, from a few minutes to
five hours - when an egg delivery truck overturned and covered
the roadway with fresh omelet material. Others have been: overturned
buses, delivery trucks, cement trucks, etc.
ADOT and the
City of Sedona have been working on a solution to improve Highway
179 ever since 1992. Public involvement and Agency coordination
have been present at every step of the way. A total of five public
meetings and over 13 workshops have been held.
conceptual design plan was presented to the Sedona City Council
in 1998 and again in 1999. The council had some concerns and stated
them in a letter to ADOT.
formed a "Highway Design Review Committee," despite the illegal
participation from a City Council person - with a conflict of
interest - who suggested (and the City Council approved) of an
additional person to this committee. The new appointee was an
outspoken opponent to ADOT'S proposal for Highway 179. This committee
was to work with ADOT on having a plan and design that the City
This committee met for several months with ADOT and consultants
hired by ADOT to work on the designs. Progress was made and many
concessions were agreed upon.
ADOT was very
receptive to the committees suggestions. The design speed of the
road was lowered, which means that the speed limit posting on
signs would be lower - but it also affected the designing of the
road. Over 1,300 feet of walls could be completely eliminated
and those remaining could be lower in height and less intrusive.
within the City Limits generally followed the present right-of
way. The committee voted that their work was finished and sent
a recommendation to the city council that would allow ADOT to
go to the next stage.
The City and
the community will have a lot to say about the final design and
participate in all phases of things like wall designs, colors
landscaping, sidewalks. ADOT had already agreed that the design
in front of the Hillside and Tlaguepaque areas would be changed
so that those businesses would not be harmed.
Keep Sedona Beautiful's latest article stated that the plan of
the highway's width was only narrowed eight feet, but that saved
the parking lot in front of Hillside and the wall in front of
The City of Sedona is the only entity that still has to say "let's
go". Yavapai County has approved, Coconino County has approved,
the Forest Service has approved, the Village of Oak Creek has
FIX IT OR NOT? Do we have any options?
we can keep bickering and delay it forever. A very vocal and determined
minority plan on doing everything in their power to see that this
road does not get improved, even close to ADOT standards. They
also think they can speak for all of us, that they know better,
can design better and know better than experts on what our traffic
will be in years to come.
ADOT can also
abandon the highway as part of the Arizona State Highway System.
They have already threatened to do that.
In fact, they
have taken the first step that they would have to do in order
to follow through with that idea. THEY HAVE ALREADY DECLARED HIGHWAY
179 TO BE UNSAFE. We already knew that, didn't we?
If this comes to pass (ADOT abandoning the road), then what happens?
It becomes a Yavapai County road to the Coconino County line,
it becomes a Coconino County road up to the Sedona City Limits
and a Sedona road inside our City Limits.
We do, the
City of Sedona, Yavapai and Coconino, all in our areas of responsibility.
As we have always appeared to be the step-child of these two parents,
what reason do we have to believe this arrangement could come
to pass. With the history of Sedona and its SEWER,do you have
the confidence that we could design, finance and build a road?
ADOT is the
best and only answer. They have the money budgeted over the next
few years. They have the expertise for designing, for hiring the
most qualified contractors to build it. Their preliminary design
shows that we could safely come and go, we could get on and off
the highway on the streets where we live.
There would be at least nine pullouts for our beloved tourists
to stop and take pictures. Then, we could all live to bicker about
let us know how you feel. Use the "Post a Response"
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