Sedona AZ (September 8, 2015) – As summer draws to a close and tides turn to redirect related monsoons, beautiful autumn is just around the corner. Frost will soon be on the pumpkins, and the aroma of Thanksgiving turkey will traditionally take a bow. With what will seem like the blink of an eye, Christmas Holidays and the beginning of a presumably Happy New Year will be upon us, bringing anticipation of hope, prosperity and well-being.
Annual changes, each offering pleasures to which we’ve become accustomed, reach out to us with inviting arms. But in Sedona it seems generally ordinary events have become bogged down by a most unwelcome intruder. Traffic, traffic, traffic – endless, unmerciful and with no hope for resolution in sight- plagues everyone week after week after week.
Even more concerning is SR179 to the “Y” and beyond – after Tlaquepaque North and the two Community Focus Areas are completed (Brewer and Schnebly Hill Roads). Then, throw in a creek walk and a park. Has any foresight been given to moving even more traffic when all of that becomes reality?
When voters approved the revised Community Plan on March 11, 2014, thirteen such CFAs were included in the plan. Although reducing traffic by working with developers and property owners to create mixed uses and walkable areas are suggested, it’s impractical to expect people to arrive at these locations for community events by hoofing it from one end of town to the other.
And how many locals can or will use a city transit system – if that is thrown back into the mix of reducing traffic?
So what will we be expected to do? Hitch up trunk size red wagons to our bicycles or plan on dragging them behind us with our groceries as we trudge – depending on where we live – five, ten, or fifteen miles on a round-trip to the market?
Options for an alternate route from VOC – as well as the Schnebly Hill route to Flagstaff – have been hashed over for years and years and the results are apparent. Neither has occurred. Many who enjoyed the low water Red Rock Crossing prior to its washout in the spring of 1978 were disappointed when it wasn’t restored, but one reason it didn’t occur was because proponents intent was to make it more like another Midgely Bridge, and subsequent land exchanges and increased development were underlying concerns.
It should further be noted that Red Rock Crossing and other areas that might be under consideration for an alternate route from the VOC are NOT within Sedona City Limits and therefore it won’t be a decision made solely by the Sedona City Council.
It might be well to make reference of the Red Rock/89A Corridor/Dry Creek of Yavapai County affiliates who most likely will have a good deal to say about where or if an alternate creek crossing takes place.
As for Schnebly Hill Road improvements, since the route crosses USFS land, that has been a huge detriment and will remain so. When the study was under way about deciding the fate of SR179 several new routes were considered, including the Schnebly option of extending to cut across to 89A and bypass uptown to Oak Creek Canyon and Flagstaff. Didn’t happen.
Those still complaining that four lanes into Sedona would have been a better choice are mistaken. Instead of one lane backed up at the “Y” there would be two lanes, and without the roundabouts which allow for traffic movement to be constant, although at times very slow, at least it keeps moving. With stoplights, the traffic most likely would be backed up to I-17 and that is not an exaggeration.
The traffic jam, to at least some degree, is a result of the redesign of the portion of AZ 89A owned by the City. Allowing uptown businesses to design the road was unwise, proven by the fact that cars pulling out from parking spaces now stop traffic in both directions. No, roundabouts are not the cause of the congestion in both directions entering uptown Sedona. Road design by less than ADOT experts did a lousy job – period. Even during the public design process for SR179, ADOT reps made it absolutely clear it would be their professional engineers making final calls for safety and efficiency.
Why do you suppose so many people objected to the city owning the rest of 89A in West Sedona? The thought of what the City process would end up with was terrifying.
At any rate, consideration for an alternate route from the VOC and/or Schnebly Hill Road to Flagstaff in all probability will take years for approval, if it even happens. In the meantime, for City planners and council members to remain on a fast track to implement the New Community Plan at record speed, without adequate resources and solid plans to address traffic concerns, is not only reckless but dangerous.
Living in the center of the Coconino National Forest means constant awareness of both wild fires and flooding. Recalling the evening when Cliff Hamilton, then on City Council, made a responsible presentation which put to rest with the hope once and for all the idea of a creek walk, if, for no other reason than future liability alone, it was with a sigh of relief to many of us who have witnessed, first hand, Oak Creek rising time and time again to flooding proportions. And now foolishly it’s back on the drawing board.
Previously mentioned was the flood and wash out of Red Rock Crossing in the spring of 1978. Another flood occurred on February 21, 1993. Both were dreadful events. Sycamore Cove Mobile Park was a disaster. Two former City Council Members, Charlie Crick and Sheri Graham, can relate their own first hand experiences.
The June 18, 2006, Brins Mesa Fire should have been a wake up call and, most recently, the Slide Fire in Oak Creek Canyon. Had the wind shifted direction during either of those fires, the City of Sedona literally would have been toast.
Yes, wild fires and floods in Sedona aren’t a matter of “if” but “when.”
Would Sedona City Staff, Planning & Zoning Commission and/or City Council stamp approval for a subdivision without first obtaining clearly defined accessible roads and adequate infrastructure? Of course they wouldn’t. Therefore, why were dense projects such as Community Focus Areas considered by the Revised Community Plan work groups without benefit of addressing traffic concerns prior to ever attempting to implement the projects?
Has common sense fled the scene?
All are at fault for the traffic debacle. When voters were given the opportunity to decide the future of Sedona by voting for or against adopting the November 2013 New Sedona Community Plan (Prop. 427) on March 11, 2014, a total of 6,495 ballots were mailed, Mail ballots returned but rejected totaled 37, and the number of acceptable votes came to 2,485. Of those, 1,530 voted Yes and 954 voted No.
And although the “Plan” was approved by 61.59% and rejected by 38.41%, a mere 38.26% of the total number of ballots sent out were returned. Translated, only 576 voters decided the future of Sedona!
Shame, shame, shame registered voters. Quit griping about traffic if you didn’t even bother to vote because all of you apathetic people are a huge part of the problem and not the solution.
Your fate was decided by 576 people and you allowed it to happen!
Had you been following the “Plan” as it unfolded, you might have picked up that in the visions being presented, there wasn’t any substantial method for dealing with potential increased traffic. Of course, there’s an additional $250,000 presently under consideration for yet another traffic study.
And how many similar studies have come and gone without an iota of noticeable change as a result?
Likewise, there’s no accounting for additional day trippers resulting from the City financed ad campaign with the Chamber of Commerce. Just how many drivers simply pass through Sedona on their way to and from Oak Creek Canyon, contributing nothing beneficial to the local economy unless counting vast numbers of cars can somehow factor into the Chamber’s less than comprehensive method of reporting as was previously displayed by the inability to ascertain members’ physical location in correlation with Sedona City Limits? Chalk that up as just one example.
And now, in spite of the sloppy and really reckless process, the City Council moves full speed ahead with plans for Cultural Park redevelopment, Soldier Pass, Brewer and Schnebly Hill “Community Focus Areas” just for starters.
What about the traffic, including foot traffic crossing at Tlaquepaque?
Maybe, just maybe, if dreamers would be forced to accept future liability for sure-to-happen disasters they might take a second look when making perilous decisions.
In the words of our former President John F. Kennedy, “Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”