Ever since the city of Sedona announced that it would be drafting a new transportation master plan, there’s been one overlying theme — there is no single answer to the problem.
That was again evident during an update on the $250,000 plan as presented to the Sedona City Council on Tuesday, March 14. City Manager Justin Clifton led the discussion and stressed several times that council will be presented a multitude of options from the study over the next several months. The hope is to weed out those council is not interested in and narrow it down to a few options — both big and small.
“The ultimate goal is to identify a number of possible options to better manage our transportation system and to look across the spectrum of access, safety, congestion, multi-modal and all of those things,” Clifton said. “Then, try the best we can to create relative comparisons between those types of projects and services that might help us better manage the system. With that prioritization, inanimately we’d have a plan that we could follow in subsequent years. We recognize that there are no silver bullets.”
Of the three options presented to council at the meeting, those they seemed to like most were ones dealing with Uptown congestion. Clifton said each Uptown scenario was evaluated considering the travel time from the trout farm in Oak Creek Canyon, through Uptown and to the “Y.” During tests, the uncongested travel time is approximately seven minutes. Under a busy conditions, the travel time was approximately 18 minutes.
The following are options presented to council for the Uptown area:
New pedestrian signals at Jordan and Arroyo Roble roads.
- Modeling shows that this improvement reduces travel time from the trout farm to 11.3 minutes, or a 26 percent reduction.
- Estimated cost: $278,000
Grade separated pedestrian crossings and/or pedestrian bridges on State Route 89A.
- Modeling shows that this improvement reduces travel time from trout farm to 5.9 minutes, or a 58 percent reduction.
- Estimated construction cost: $3.1 million
Raised median on State Route 89A through Uptown, additional southbound travel lane; new roundabout at Jordan Road; new connection to Schnebly Road.
- Modeling shows that this improvement reduces travel time from trout farm to 5.3 minutes, or a 50 percent reduction.
- Estimated construction cost: $3.6 million
Raised median on State Route 89A through Uptown, additional southbound travel lane; new roundabout at Jordan Road; new connection to Schnebly Road new pedestrian signal at Arroyo Roble Road.
- Modeling shows that this improvement reduces travel time from trout farm to 6.9 minutes, or 48 percent reduction.
- Estimated construction cost: $4.2 million
Vice Mayor John Martinez said that pedestrian bridges have been brought up in the past but were shot down by merchants and others because they fear they would obstruct the views.
“We recognize no matter what we discuss in terms of managing traffic, there’s going to be something somebody loves and something somebody hates,” Clifton said.
He added, “What’s our priority? Which trade-off would we like to have? Lesser improvement to traffic flow and free views or an obstruction but higher efficiency? Unfortunately, a lot of those conversations take place in vacuums. So it’s easy for any of us to say, ‘We don’t want the obstruction and I want the traffic improvement.’ And there may be a balance that does that but again, at some point we have to acknowledge that there is going to be something in all of this for someone to hate and something for someone to love.”
Two other options received mixed reactions from council. The first was to pave Schnebly Hill Road to Interstate 17. This would help reduce visitor traffic through the canyon in addition to providing a route for those commuting to or from Flagstaff. The estimated cost is $33 million. Some council members said they believe the cost would be much higher while others said with all the red tape they’d have to go through with the U.S. Forest Service, a project like that could take years before the first shovel of dirt was turned.
Another option that council liked but still had concerns over was making improvements to Red Rock Crossing and its connecting roadways.
The primary benefit of Red Rock Crossing is to connect the Village of Oak Creek to West Sedona when State Route 179 is congested. This would divert visitor travel but primarily residential commuters. It was pointed out than an estimated 90 percent of visitors traveling from the Phoenix area come to Sedona using State Route 179.
Design and construction cost for this project is estimated at $10 million.