is disheartening to hear the proponents of the widening of State
Route (SR) 179 make the statements that the sole purpose of
Voice of Choice for 179 is to delay the improvements that are
needed for our citys gateway road. Nothing could be further
from the truth. Voice of Choice for 179 (VOC) is a group of
committed, bright citizens of the Greater Sedona area who are
convinced that the proposed Arizona Department of Transportation
(ADOT) Alternative C is the wrong solution for Highway 179.
solution appears to be arrived at in Phoenix by a staff person
who looked at the traffic counts and extrapolated them into
a four- and five-lane highway, without any regard for the scenic
nature of the road or the concerns of the area residents.
concern for the highway was one of the reasons I decided to
run for City Council. After the fiasco with the street lights
uptown, I could no longer feel comfortable sitting back and
just complaining. It was time for my voice to be heard. On April
14, I spoke before the State Transportation Board (STB) in Flagstaff
to express my concerns as a newly elected councilman. I received
some gratifying feedback from my appearance. The STB had not
previously heard of any complaints about the proposed improvements.
It was after this that VOC was organized.
to investigate possible alternatives to a four lane highway.
ADOT claims that the highway needs to be widened because of
unsafe conditions, yet they are unable to quote any statistics
that indicate that it is less safe than Highway 89A, a five-lane
We are all
in agreement that improvements need to be made. VOC suggests
eight-foot wide shoulders, additional turnouts for visitors
to view the red rocks, and deceleration and left turn lanes
at high-traffic intersections. One only needs to travel the
brand new section of SR180, just south of the Snow Bowl in Flagstaff,
to see the kind of safe two-lane highway that can be constructed
and not destroy the scenic nature of an area. Certainly, SR180
as a primary route to the Grand Canyon handles as much traffic
proposes three new traffic lights along their proposed widened
highway. (There are presently none between Bell Rock Boulevard
in the Village of Oak Creek and the intersection of SR89A.)
Along with traffic lights comes street lights at the newly signalized
intersections. Streetlights that will intrude severely upon
our dark skies. The traffic lights alone are sufficiently offensive.
Add to that the effect of streetlights and one is not hard put
to visualize the further degradation of our quality of life.
One of the
most insistent complaints I heard during my campaign for council
was the difficulty that residents of subdivisions along 179
had in making left hand turns onto SR179. If the project as
by ADOT comes to fruition, this problem will increase geometrically.
The new challenge will be to cross three lanes instead of one
to make a left turn. Aha, there is a solution to that you say.
Do the same thing we have done along SR89A - install more traffic
lights. What is the single most frequently heard comment from
longtime residents describing the length of time they have lived
in Sedona? "There was only one traffic light in town when
I moved here."
do traffic lights and the accompanying street lights affect
our quality of life, they also SLOW DOWN TRAFFIC! If it is ADOTs
intention to improve the flow of traffic, then a four- and five-lane
roadway is not the answer. As stated above, wider shoulders,
turnouts, and deceleration and left turn lanes are.
of SR179 improvements has been on the STB agenda for approximately
eight years. Mayor Alan Everett has indicated that the City
Council will revisit the issue in the near future. He said,
"I am very sensitive to the concerns of the Voice of Choice
and Council members who want this item agendized."
council and the SR179 Design Committee was provided with much
misinformation by ADOTs District Engineer and thus was
not in a position to properly evaluate the citys options.
Federal money will be available for a two lane "context
sensitive" design. Under the Transportation Equity Act
for the 21st Century (TEA-21), states have the freedom to use
their own highway design guidelines on non-National Highway
System roads even if the project is the recipient of Federal
council has it within its power to say again, as it said in
a March 10, 1999 letter to Mary Peters, director of ADOT, "The
currently proposed four- and five-lane roadway sections are
inconsistent with these goals (of the Sedona Community Plan),
will result in a radical change to the character of the Sedona
area, and therefore represent AN UNACCEPTABLE SOLUTION."
the results of the County Supervisors primary race were in,
I overheard my friend and fellow Rotarian Ivan Finley say, "
I sure have a knack of backing losers." Hopefully his streak