Continuous Roadway Lighting May Yet Become a Reality on 89a
Sedona, AZ (June 22, 2011) – At the June 17, 2011, the State Transportation Meeting in Chinle, Arizona, voted to let the contract between the City of Sedona and the Arizona Department of Transportation expire. The contract, negotiated in the Fall of 2010 and Winter of 2011, was approved by the Sedona City Council on February 22, 2011. Subsequently, a group calling itself Let The People Vote on 89a circulated petitions to have the issue placed before the voters. The referendum qualified for election and effectively placed a hold on the City’s ability to execute the contract. In May, 2011, the Sedona City Council voted to request ADOT to place the contract on hold until the voters could express their support or denial of the contract. The contract would have given ownership of State Route (SR) 89a within the city limits to the city and also provided $15 million for highway maintenance. The contract also included repaving of the route and a stop light at Andante and 89a. It was revealed by a Let The People member and by former Mayor Pud Colquitt in May that the group had no interest in letting the electorate vote, rather it was their intent to undermine the contract.
Speaking to the issue was former Sedona Police Chief Joe Vernier. In his statement he spoke about the fatalities on SR 89a that occurred at night and the need for lights to protect highway safety. The Chief, however, mis- spoke when he stated none of the night time fatalities involved alcohol. In fact three of the four fatalities were alcohol related. Here are the actual statements from the police reports:
December 10, 2000 – no alcohol cited in the report (German Tourist).
June 4, 2005 – The report includes bystanders’ comments that the victim had been on an 8-day binge of drinking.
January 21, 2006 – A citizen called Sedona Police Department and reported an intoxicated male attempting to cross the highway in front of Circle K. The driver of the car stated that the individual was just standing in the middle of the lane when struck.
April 4, 2006 – Victim was lying face down in the road (beyond the Dry Creek intersection). People who had contact with the victim that day say he had been drinking all day.
The Chief suggested to the ADOT Board that they proceed as soon as possible to install dark sky compliant continuous roadway lighting.
A letter from three former Sedona Mayors was read into the record. They encouraged ADOT to move forward on the installation of dark sky compliant continuous roadway lighting on SR 89a.
The contract is valid until June 30, 2011. After that date ADOT states it will proceed on its own alternative, which is to retain ownership of the highway, install a stop light at Andante, and begin the process of installing continuous roadway lighting between Airport Road and Dry Creeks Road and then resurface the entire stretch of highway.
The issue of continuous roadway lighting and pedestrian safety has been a contentious issue for over 5 years in Sedona. When ADOT first stated it intended to install 108 lights along the highway, a public outcry was heard. The city then formed the SR 89a Citizen’s Advisory Committee to investigate pedestrian safety alternatives. That committee met over a 9 month period and came up with a list of ways pedestrian safety could be addressed without the installation of continuous roadway lighting. All safety alternatives were accepted the city council in November, 2009, and then at the same meeting Councilor Scagnelli added continuous roadway lighting to the motion.
The ADOT Transportation Board cited the fact that the Sedona City Council had not yet determined when the referendum election would take place. It was evident that the Board was not listening and did not consider to the Referendum request to put to a vote the community’s position before they move ahead with the lights. This poses some interesting questions about the Constitutional Rights of citizens to vote directly on issues. By ignoring the pending Referendum ADOT has made an election merely a formality with absolutely no meaning.
With only 10 days remaining before the contract expires, it’s anyone’s guess what is around the next ben in the road.
If you have a comment about this, or any other ADOT issue, log on to the following address and express away: http://www.azdot.gov/index_docs/Contact_ADOT.asp
Why not let the citizens of Sedona decide what they want?
Interesting – FORMER city officials (councilor, mayors and police chief) providing misinformation and pushing through their agenda WITHOUT RESIDENTS input. Obviously their relationship with ADOT has trumped legal rights – looks very bad.
The contract, because of the possible referendum, has now become a constitutional issue, which ADOT seems to feel is none of their concern….
There is also the added note that we were informed at the public education meetings that ADOT had said two things:
1. If ANYTHING interfered with the contract, ADOT would put in the CRL.
2. ADOT can always put in CRL, the signal and re-pave and tell Sedona the road is ours in 4 years.
Wonder where this situation will end up.
This is such a shame. For years people have worked so hard to come up with solutions for a main throughfare for Sedona that would address safety concerns while trying to protect our unique environment. Then, at the last minute, self interested groups fouled up the very good results of years of negotiations. People were led to believe that their votes were necessary to legitimitze this process. The truth was revealed when both Pud Colqitt and Mark DiNunzio admitted that LTPV was only a ploy to derail the process.
I’m not surprised that ADOT wants to just go ahead and put up the lights. I am surprised that our neighbors, and our representitves, past and current, would undermine the process in such a callow manner.
There is no doubt in my mind that ADOT, having put up their 100 plus lights, and creating another indifferent strip of highway, will turn our road back to us. With a smile.
Cynthia, my friend:
I never said, nor implied, that the referendum petition was a ploy!!! I said that I thought that the objective of the referendum was to reverse the council decision to take over SR89A in West Sedona. Pure and simple.
In my opinion, and based on feedback that I have had directly from people opposed to city take over, the petition was circulated, and I am told eagerly signed by residents, to stop the take over. The referendum would cause a vote that petitioners believed would overwhelmingly reverse the council decision.
The events that have occurred since the petition was filed have influenced the current state of affairs beyond what anyone anticipated. They have not been driven by LTPV as far as I know. They have been driven by the legal ramifications of the referendum and it’s effect on the contract between the city and ADOT.
With regard to the rest of your letter, I respectfully disagree with your assessment of what has transpired over the last years.
These statements are mine alone and do not represent the council or city staff.
I think that I missed something here. I see where the 3 ex-mayors, and ex-police chief Joe Vernier, all signed the referendum asking for the people to have a vote. Now they are saying to ADOT nothing about a vote, nothing about the others who want a say through a vote, and nothing about the majority of residents that don’t want the lights. They are only asking that ADOT proceed asap. They seem to only be thinking of themselves, and not the law they relied on with the referendum. Same attitude they had when in office.
Things just don’t change.
Sorry Councilor DiNunzio but you stated “It was not to “let the people vote,” it was predominantly if not entirely, to stop the turn back. I think that if ADOT stays the course that they set that they’re not going to negotiate any further . . . then I think that the people that signed that referendum will be doing cartwheels.”
That statement certainly does infer that the petition for the referendum was/is a ploy.
You believe that it’s based on what people want because it’s what you want and, probably,what most of the people you know want. But there are alot of people who have followed this issue, attended meetings for years and feel passionately that the takeover was a real victory for people and local government working together. Many of us thought that we were going to have a hand in the future of the road and be able to deflect, what is to alot of us, the terrible possibility of dozens of lights marching down the ‘highway’, and towards making it both a safe and beautiful main boulevard.
I feel that our elected officials made a good call. The pure and simple referendum means, basically, we’ll never know. ADOTstated some time ago that they were coming to the end of their tether. And now they, seemingly, have. I believe we were both there when they alluded to that, and so it is difficult to view this referendum as anything but cynical and calculated.
I apologize if I sound bitter, but I am , a little. I can see 89a from my upstairs windows and know there will be a nightly reminder. And, on a personal note, I grew up in a beautiful place that is now home to strip malls and car lots. But maybe some people prefer that. Cynthia
Thank you, Cynthia, for your thoughtful and heartfelt comments.
Seems these are the same people who wanted the 4 lane highway on 179, who fought long and hard to defeat the National Scenic Area designation, and now they want to destroy 89a. Recall 25 or so years ago Sedona had federal funding to build a wastewater system for our community, and a similar group with a similar mind set managed to turn away the federal aid. The result: the community will be paying for the sewer for another 10 years when we could have had it for nearly free. If ADOT walks from the agreement with the city, trust me, we’ll have a lighted highway and we’ll end up owning the highway too…with no funding whatsoever. ADOT has said so in veiled comments on several occasions.
And remember, the existing poles, wires and lights will remain, then add 108 new 35′ tall light poles…that will be the new Sedona skyline. Nothing gets under grounded, and the community plan update becomes a huge waste of time.
You’re right, maybe some people do prefer strip malls and car lots. What’s with these people?
Whatever is wrong with the people who prefer strip malls and parking lots need to do those of us a favor who love it here and want to preserve its character by owning the road and designing a pleasant and safe thorofare for residents and visitors need to move to those places where they’ll be happier amidst strip malls and parking lots. Hey, maybe they’d like to move from the places I had lived which are now primarily parking lots and lights, lots of lights!
Editor, please elaborate, in detail, on your reference to available federal funding for the wastewater treatment system some 25 years ago. What was all that about? Facts to substantiate your allegations will be beneficial to your credibility.
Jim History Lesson for you, before Sedona became an incorporated city, There where fears that the State of Arizona was going to shut Sedona down because of all the Wastewater from septic Tanks leaching into the creek, and fears it was leaching into the Ground Water because of all the people that had used dynamite to put in there septic tanks. Well to make a long story short,. The vote for incorporation was posted on a Friday in the paper, the vote was held the next day on a Saturday, 450 voted yes , 350 voted no. The vote was held at the old Bashes. So basically if you didnt get the paper, or go to Bashes that Saturday,You didnt know about the Vote. It really pissed off a lot of people. Then After Sedona was Incorporated and became a city, The State of Arizona had stated, They where going to put in the Treatment Facility for the community of Sedona. That fueled the fire even more for a lot residents.
Well this is about the lights, anyways, My opinion would be to go with the Dark Sky Lights Like Flagtstaff has, and make Sedona another Protected Dark Sky City ..