On Wednesday, Aug. 9, a traffic incident occurred in front of Tlaquepaque, backing up southbound traffic into West Sedona.
Fortunately, a two-lane bridge over Oak Creek allowed vehicles to maneuver past the truck and continue moving southbound onto State Route 179 without too much of a delay … wait, no, that didn’t happen.
Our editorial on Aug. 4 specifically mentioned that the special interest group Voice of Choice coopted the democratic process in the early 2000s and prevented a four-lane road from the “Y” intersection to the Village of Oak Creek from being built.
When I wrote that editorial a week ago, I certainly did not expect that a traffic incident would occur only a few days later to reinforce that consensus view by most residents that the myopic replacement of a two-lane road with a two-lane road over the objections of Arizona Department of Transportation engineers would be so profoundly demonstrated.
This, dear former supporters of Voice of Choice, is precisely the type of incident ADOT planners wanted to spare Sedona residents from — a single minor incident that causes a massive backup because no second lane existed. Instead on Wednesday, vehicles were able to take the alternate route over the creek off Brewer Road, or wait, was it the alternate route through Uptown that connected to Schnebly Hill Road, giving drivers a way around the accident scene to their homes south of the delay … wait, no, that didn’t happen either.
The city has yet to work with local agencies to build an alternate route between Uptown and points south so drivers either had to endure the long delay, wasting gas and crawling along at a snail’s pace, or head back through West Sedona, to Page Springs Road through Cornville to Beaverhead Flat Road and back up through the Village.
A secondary bridge somewhere over Oak Creek could offer drivers a way around incidents like this, but it takes council members with the courage to build projects that benefit the vast majority over the objections of a loud few. But as we have seen, most nakedly with Voice of Choice, these few often determine the future of city projects and further down the road, we all suffer from otherwise easily solvable projects.
But aren’t those wide medians nice to look at for an hour in stop-and-go traffic?
“Stopping tourism” isn’t an option no matter how much opponents may wish it so. Housing projects in Cottonwood and Clarkdale will add as many as 2,500 homes to the area in the next decade. Those residents will be coming to Sedona to work, or recreating in Oak Creek Canyon, or passing through en route to Flagstaff. Potential new hotels and resorts may also be coming to other areas, which Sedona residents have zero ability to stop.
If Sedona refuses to adapt, our traffic delays will only intensify. We must widen roads, or build bridges, or come up with mass transit alternatives that benefit all. Otherwise massive delays will become the norm rather than isolated annoyances. Officials also must refuse to allow tiny minorities of residents from halting desperately needed projects from being completed.