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Posted On: 2017-10-13 01:21 PM
By ZACHARY JERNIGAN
Cottonwood's busiest intersection may soon get overhauled. In September, U.S. Rep. Tom O'Halleran [D-District 1] requested a list of transportation infrastructure priorities for the state's Congressional District 1, which encompasses much of Northern Arizona.
O'Halleran intends to include the recommendations as part of the federal administration's anticipated infrastructure bill. O'Halleran is partnering with the Northern Arizona Council of Governments to develop the list.
"[NACOG is] putting a big priority on regional cooperation and economic development," Development Services Manager Morgan Scott said, voicing endorsement for the intersection of State Routes 89A and 260 as the city's top priority.
Cottonwood, Clarkdale and Jerome are in Congresional District 4. According to Scott, although 89A and 260 may not be the city's top priority, finding a fix for the intersection — currently the Verde Valley's most dangerous and one of the region's busiest — makes sense from a regional standpoint.
"I believe it would score very, very well with NACOG," Scott said during a Cottonwood City Council meeting Sept. 5, adding that he had received verbal commitment to endorse the intersection as the region's top transportation infrastructure priority from all of the Verde Valley communities excepting Camp Verde. Sedona, as well, offered verbal endorsement.
According to Town of Camp Verde Economic Development Director Steve Ayers, the town has since endorsed the 89A and 260 intersection as a top priority. According to Scott, the economic impact would be significant.
"That intersect in particular has been held back," he said. 89A and 260 regularly backs up and presents access problems for businesses at or around the intersection, impacting business growth. The ultimate cost savings to the city, as well as the region, would likewise be significant, Scott said, especially from a safety standpoint.
Funding may allow for expansion of bike lanes and pedestrian access extending to the intersection of SR 260 and Fir Street.
"I know a lot of people are asking, 'What is the fix?' We'd like to make sure we do that right, so first we do a study." Scott said. "I'm guessing [for] between $5 to 10 million, we can fix this intersection .... I think NACOG could look at this as an opportunity to fix a regional problem with a relatively low cost."
"I agree with your assessment," Cottonwood Mayor Timothy Elinski said. Councilwoman Karen Pfeiffer also voiced her support for the intersection's importance, citing issues that have existed for decades that impact safety and economic potential for the entire region. The council agreed unanimously to recommend the intersection as the top priority for regional transportation projects.
Another transportation infrastructure project, the recent installation of a flashing light crosswalk at Main Street and E. Cherry Street, received praise from American Heritage Academy Principal Eric Evans at city council Tuesday, Oct. 3. According to Evans, the city's "swift response to pedestrian issues" that impacted students' safety was much appreciated.
Evans also requested that the city consider repaving options on the eastern section of E. Cherry Street extending from Main Street to American Heritage.