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