Superhighway through Red Rock Country"
Keep Sedona Beautiful takes
by Coleman M. Greenberg
Board of Directors of the venerable and influential Keep Sedona
Beautiful recently passed a resolution calling upon ADOT to be
responsive to the realistic needs of the community, to maintain
the scenic beauty of the existing two-lane Highway 179 by adding
appropriate turnouts and left turn lanes and to use the precepts
of the Federal Highway Administration Flexibility in Highway
Design manual for the design of the road.
the Board, KSB's president Bill Kusner wrote a letter to Governor
Jane Dee Hull. The following is an excerpt from that letter:
does ADOT work? Democracy is normally defined as government by
the people exercised either directly or through elected representatives.
However, after hearing remarkably similar comments from the community
-- business owners and artists, longtime residents and schoolteachers--and
despite a Sedona Red Rock News poll that favored modest
improvements appropriate to this unique national treasure, ADOT's
only response was to reluctantly reduce the width of the road
by a few feet and lower the design speed for the road within the
City of Sedona. Furthermore, the agency continues to insist in
media appearances that its superhighway design is the only
course of action, that no other alternatives exist. Many Sedonans
do not think this project is a "done deal." And, an article in
the Arizona Republic on March 26, 2000, says ADOT's plan to straighten
and widen this scenic highway to five lanes will change all that,
and that it's also presented as a "done deal."
- A "done deal," despite
petitions to that agency signed by hundreds of citizens asserting
that ADOT's expressway would shatter Sedona's special character
for all time and underscoring the economic and environmental
impact of the project?
- A "done deal" despite
the finding in ADOT's own environmental assessment of the project
(project No. STP-238 January 1999, Page 77) that construction
of the project would mean a "general degradation of the inherent
scenic quality of the area?"
- A "done deal" despite
another finding in the same document that "Much of SR 179 within
the project limits is designated the Red Rock Scenic Road,"
where, most notably from Bell Rock to Back O' Beyond Road, there
would be the loss of the unique experience northbound along
a narrow winding roadway through a pinon-juniper Forest?"
Forum XI of The
Sedona Academy of Public Affairs said in 1995:
The Sedona Community
The final report from Sedona Forum XI "Congestion or Conservation"
Do we have choices? (March 5, 1995) on page 17 clearly states:
"Our vision of transportation for Sedona is a system that complements
and supports our quality of life, small-town character, and harmonizes
with the natural beauty and supports the integrity of our environment.
There is a clear consensus that in the future there should be
a decreased reliance on the use of personal automobiles . . ."
With specific regard to SR 179, the report calls for: "An upgraded
State Route 179 that includes scenic pull outs, shoulders and
safe ingress and egress."
Quoting the Sedona Community
Plan, 1992, the Report from Forum XI of the Sedona Academy of Public
Affairs says: "The vision that the citizens have for the future
of their city is . . . To be a city that is constantly vigilant
over the preservation of its natural beauty, scenic vistas, pristine
environment and cultural heritage" and goes on to quote: To be a
city that retains its small-town character and creates its man-made
improvements in strict harmony with nature." and finally, "To be
a city that lives up to the challenge of proper stewardship of one
of earth's great treasures."
Education and experience
should teach us
US Transportation Department
studies conclude that in 60 metro areas where the amount of highway
per resident grew by 10 percent over the past 16 years, delays
experienced by drivers grew by 235 percent. Obviously, adding
more lanes to highways is not a panacea for all traffic
problems. Why, then does ADOT's answer invariably involve construction
of more traffic lanes?
Wisconsin, Utah, California, England, New York and others have
refuted the theory that adding lanes helps with traffic congestion.
They are all looking for other solutions, even removing extra
lanes already built in the hope of restoring some semblance of
a natural environment. More traffic (more vehicles on more lanes)
= more air-, water- and noise-pollution. Are we in the market
for more pollution any more than we are in the market for an arterial
Sedona is unarguably
a scenic area (millions of visitors come just to look at it every
year). Common sense will tell you that the roadways through this
kind of scenery should be scenic, too (rolling, winding, slow
ADOT's context for
roads is traffic movement buffered only by safety. Scenery is
not a consideration, regardless of their claims to the contrary
(just look at their sound walls). Recent safety studies about
people doing other things (cell phones, maps, child care, even
audio books) while driving show that more people get hurt more
often and more seriously when a driver is not paying attention
to driving. Accident records on the new five-lane portion of SR
89A through West Sedona compared to the statistics for SR 179
confirm that gentle roads through our scenery are more appropriate
than "arterial roads" with our visitors making U-turns, reading
maps, stopping to take pictures, etc. and our locals creeping
along at snail speed waiting for their synapses to snap.
Main roadways that
encourage slow, but steady traffic movement and allow for drivers'
attentions to occasionally be diverted without major mishap by
the majestic grandeur through-which the roads are built are obviously
needed here. What is unwelcome and not needed is any encouragement
of the hurry-up lifestyle many of us left in the major cities
from which we emigrated to our "park without a portfolio."
A Sedona Red-Rock
A new roadway upon
the rights of way of existing roads, our "Sedona-Red Rock Scenic
Parkway," would include the entirety of the already-designated
Red Rock Scenic Road and the Dry Creek Scenic Road (SR179 MP 302.5
to SR89A MP 363), and all of the roadway between them.
Our Parkway would retain
the character of the existing road where it still exists (i.e.,
the "roller coaster") and restore the original character (as much
as possible) where it is destroyed (i.e., the SR89A, Si Birch
Highway) and would pre-empt and replace construction of Phase
III of SR89 from Cottonwood, as designed by ADOT (from the first
views of our Red Rocks just west of the Sedona Wastewater Plant).
As it becomes a widely-divided bifurcated roadway through the
Coconino National Forest, the new (southbound) section of the
road would mirror the character of the existing northbound ("roller
coaster") lane as much as possible.
Our "Sedona-Red Rock
Scenic Parkway" would have one generous traffic lane in each direction,
appropriate right and left-turn lanes, wide stable shoulders and
plenty of scenic pullouts. As necessary and appropriate, traffic
lanes would be separated by a raised, landscaped divider. Design
speed would be 35 miles per hour and the posted speed limit would
be thirty, except within the City of Sedona, where the posted
limit would be 25 miles per hour.
Goals of the overall
design and particularly the design speed would be to eliminate
any need for "sound walls" and also eliminate the need to remove
all vegetation of four inch diameter, or more from along the roadway.
Can it be done? Of
course! Will it be done? Not unless our community somehow either
forces ADOT to build it, or unites in a new coalition to build
The Purpose of the
To have readers discover
individually, within themselves, a need to "step forward" and
resist ADOT's plan to build a superhighway through the Sedona
area. To personally realize that we can and will individually
and as a motivated and united community find another way to do
what is necessary to make SR 179 the safe, gentle scenic road
that it should be, with or without ADOT.
ADOT exercises almost
total control over what will be paved, when and where in this
state. Until now, that is. Now, our citizenry is roused to action.
A very large group
of concerned local citizens is forming to meet ADOT's challenge
to the basic character of our community. Members of the group
are from every segment of the community. Merchants and tree-huggers,
students and retirees, singles and couples, kids and seniors.
We have in common that we will do whatever is necessary to take
back control of what happens to our little corner of paradise.
A few years ago, the
people behind the effort to incorporate Sedona said that the citizens
of this area wanted to "control our own destiny." What happened?
Incorporation of the City of Sedona, but no local control! Our
group is committed to making good on that failed promise for every
citizen of the Sedona area.
If you have had enough
of ADOT and their terrorist tactics and are willing to "join the
fray," join us. Call 204-1608, Fax 204-1597, or Email firstname.lastname@example.org
and let us know who you are. If you want to personally let someone
in "power" know how strongly you feel about the ADOT Sedona Superhighway,
write to the Governor at: The Honorable Jane Hull - Governor of
Arizona - 1700 West Washington - Phoenix, Arizona 85007- Telephone
her at 602-542-4331, or Fax 602-542-1381. Tell Mary Peters, Director
of the Arizona Department of Transportation - 206 South 17th Avenue
- Phoenix AZ 85007, or call her at 602-712-7227.
You can make a difference,
but only if you take part!
Cole Greenberg is immediate past-president of Keep Sedona Beautiful
and a member of the Board of the Sedona Academy for Public Affairs.
He served on Yavapai County's Alternate Route Task Force and the
City of Sedona's SR 179 Design Subcommittee. He has lived in Sedona
full-time since early 1992 and is a practicing professional home
inspector, construction consultant and environmental consultant.