By John O’Brien, Sedona Resident
(April 1, 2019)
I have heard about the proposal to pave Schnebly Hill Road to help solve Sedona’s traffic problems. I disagree. Not only will the paving of Schnebly Hill Road erode the scenic beauty of this gorgeous area, it will also spread Sedona’s traffic mess over a larger area and likely exacerbate the traffic problem we currently have on SR 179 between the Schnebly Hill Road roundabout and the “Y” roundabout.
Big and bold solutions are necessary to reduce tourism and solve Sedona’s traffic crisis once and for all. Here are a few “out of the box” ideas to consider and contemplate:
- Demolish and remove all hotels, motels, timeshares, bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals, restaurants, retail shops, grocery stores and hiking and mountain bike trails in the Sedona area, so tourists will no longer have a place to sleep, eat, shop and play.
- Construct gigantic, solid screen structures completely around every red rock formation in the Sedona area so tourists won’t be able to view these magnificent and beautiful, red rock geological features and will no longer desire to visit Sedona.
- If the first two ideas don’t reduce tourism and solve Sedona’s traffic problems, then the entire Sedona metropolitan area should be relocated to a less scenic spot in Arizona where tourists are unlikely to visit. The “new Sedona” would be reconstructed in the desert area outside of Gila Bend or perhaps on the rolling plains along Interstate 40 between Ash Fork and Seligman.
I would like to hear other ideas. Hopefully, next time Sedona residents are stuck in one of Sedona’s daily traffic jams, they will have plenty of time to come up with their own big and bold traffic solutions!
John O’Brien (AKA Tom Talltales)
You forgot painting the Red Rocks black.
I knew I missed something, Tommy! Darn! Great idea! LOL
Great response to the insane ideas permeating the Valley at this stage. Among the worst is the Editor’s obsession with building a bridge over Red Rock Crossing. In his recent editorial he again falsely stated that Keep Sedona Moving was pushing for this. I have a letter from a Keep Sedona Moving member who clearly states they are not supporting such a move yet this editor continues to push his false narrative.
They claim the bridge is needed to provide better access to medical care. Ridiculous. No matter which way you go from VOC to Sedona it’s 45 minutes. The ER in Cottonwood provides inadequate service if you aren’t brought in by ambulance, and neither facility can care for the very seriously injured who are transported to Phoenix or Flagstaff via helicopter.
There has never been a bridge over RRC, only a ford which washed out in 1978. This would require making VV School Rd a 4-lane highway which will totally disrupt the Village, whose 6500+ residents NEED their own ER capable of providing much better care than Sedona and Cottonwood. A recent meeting with hundreds of residents turning out revealed an almost unanimous plurality AGAINST even considering such a rash move. A previous environmental study by Yavapai County was rejected as impractical, as were court appeals by the proponent. A Taxpayer Group in Wash DC called it a huge waste of taxpayer funds.
The simple answer is the route behind Back o’Beyond to Sunset or Shasta, a route that was opposed by the wealthy homeowners on the way.
Better solution to traffic problems in Sedona is to do what the Grand Canyon did years ago: make tourists park outside the city and have shuttle busses, or shuttle jeeps, or mule-drawn wagons move these money-dropping tourists around town. And if this solution proves impracticable, try six-lane roundabouts.
Rowdy Windwalker, let your spirit be forever in our hearts, your solution is genius.
I think a six-lane roundabout would scare everyone away and the Redrocks will whisper the name “Rowdy Windwalker” for eons to come.
Hi John: You asked for traffic solutions so here are a few: City to stop giving the Chamber of Commerce $2.5 million a year with automatic raises each year of 11% of bed tax with no end to it. The Chamber advertises in EVERY hotel room according to Jennifer Wesselhoff in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tucson for the express purpose to attract day trippers. Also stop advertising in China, Japan, Germany and the UK. Yes, tourists are going to come no matter what we stop doing but, there is no need to deliberately search for every tourist they can find. Sedona is written up in many magazines, talked about on tv and radio shows so there will always be plenty of tourists coming to Sedona. Another suggestion is to lobby ADOT to remove the “Scenic Road Designations” from H179 and Oak Creek Canyon which encourages millions to take those routes on their to and from the Grand Canyon from the Valley. The City traffic report last year stated that 55% of cars travelling through the roundabouts and Uptown through the Canyon NEVER STOPPED. This is a huge contribution to the traffic jams. Twenty years or even ten Sedona will become practically inaccessible if drastic measures are not taken. Every National Park is over whelmed with tourists, the Grand Canyon is the most endangered followed by Zion. Tourists are destroying the Parks and even a number of protected rivers and streams in many States are being destroyed by tourists. Sedona hiking trails are being destroyed, tourists leave the official trails to go where they want disturbing protected soils and leaving graffiti on rocks and Indian ruins. Crescent Moon Ranch is besieged with tourists rock stacking which is extremely harmful to the environment, even stacking in Oak Creek. I have taken steps to have all this stopped and obtained cooperation from our Red Rock Ranger District so there will be changes I suggested coming in the future including the removal of the words Budda Beach on the pamphlets sold at the entrance and other changes on it regarding rock stacking/Cairns and another big change to stop this destruction . A friend Susanne Strauss who lives nearby there is continually dismantling the Cairns and being cursed by tourists for doing so who think it is a “spiritual” experience to destroy our environment and disturb the homes of tiny creatures who tunnel under the rocks for protection. Trails so destroyed the City is going to spend millions building new ones because “tourists demand it”. If drastic measures are not taken now then in the future first responders will not be able to respond to medical and fire calls in time to save a life or structure. I subscribe to many emails from our National Parks, organizations to save rivers etc. and environmental organizations so know what is happening. The most endangered river in the Country? The section of the Colorado that runs through the Grand Canyon.
All the Sedona in Motion projects will do nothing to save Sedona as most of them I was told by a City official will be obsolete in seven years. So money is being spent on these projects especially for Uptown. We need a revolution in thinking in Sedona or we are doomed just like Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon, Arches National Park all being covered with rock stacks including Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Utah’s Canyon Lands and Arcadia National Park in Maine by tourists who think these places are their own back yards. Yes John, we need drastic changes so please suggest some ideas that could work and I am sure you have them with your vast experience in years with City Hall as head of Community Development. Joan Shannon email@example.com
In addition to my above comments, I have lived in Uptown for forty years right in the thick of everything so have seen all the changes and will say I am sorry we ever incorporated, becoming a City put “us on the map”. Many of us thought having a local government we elected would be the best way to go but, that has not turned out to be, especially when that government is focusing all their attentions on the tourist industry as it has a symbiotic relationship with the Chamber and Hotel Industry. I was told by a top City official over a year ago that “sedonans need to face reality that Sedona is no longer a residential town but, a tourist resort town and that is were are focusing our attention”. That explains everything.
Joan is correct on two issues:
1. The “Scenic Road Designations” on SR179 and Oak Creek Canyon encourages millions to take this route to and from the Grand Canyon, and
2. The City traffic report stated that 55% of cars traveling SR179 through the Canyon never stop in Sedona.
I’d also add that the same traffic study indicated that 95% of the Canyon weekend traffic was from outside Sedona (Table 1.1, page 16) and the study’s conclusion was that Sedona’s traffic congestion won’t be alleviated until after Oak Creek Canyon traffic is addressed (page 95).
ADOT is not going to change the Scenic Highway designation but the City is trying to work with ADOT on Dynamic Message Signs at both I-17/SR179 and 89A in Flagstaff to encourage drivers to by-pass the Canyon during congested periods. The Final Report (p. 120-121) predicts that DMS for Oak Creek Canyon/SR89A would reduce traffic by 16% and DMS alerting travelers to conditions on SR179 would reduce traffic by an additional 26%.
The City is also working with the Forest Service and State Parks to limit visitor traffic to the Canyon. Since the 1980’s Coconino County has severely limited development on private property in the Canyon. At the same time, however, the Forest Service and State Parks improved and expanded parking at Grasshopper, Call of the Canyon and Slide Rock and added camping spaces at Pine Flat. Only recently have they begun to limit roadside parking. They should be implementing a reservation system for the campgrounds and trailheads instead of continuing to allow unimpeded access and overuse of the Canyon’s resources.
So, I agree with your two points. But I don’t agree that the City, the Chamber or any of the local businesses are the ones encouraging drive-through traffic to the Canyon which is a major contributor to traffic congestion.
My ol’ buddy John is definitely on the right track with his ideas for improving traffic in Sedona. As a frequent visitor over the past few years, I can tell you the traffic there makes me crazy. Although my cousin Cletus tells me I’ve been crazy for most of my life! One thing is for sure — Sedona should repurpose their airport runway as a good old fashioned drag strip and let all them tourists drive as fast as they want up there. Might be kinda fun, huh?
I think you make a lot of sense, Verle! Cousin Cletus would be proud of your ideas!!
Great thoughts John Shannon. I would only add that about a year ago, the Economist magazine had an article about tourism crowding out the locals in Venice Italy. During the summer it was standing room only along all the canals and the locals could not get down to the canals to do their produce shopping. The article went on to state that when the people of China reached the same level of affluence that the Japanese have, ALL tourist attractions around the world would become “standing room only.” Our city leaders will not state that there is a physical limit to the number of cars our street infrastructure can hold. Once that limit is met: total gridlock. All of the SIM projects will not change this physical limit. If they won’t admit that we are going to be faced by a huge problem in the not too distant future, then they obviously won’t be making any plans to mitigate it. It seems that the leaders of the city think more is better. More tourists = more city revenue$$ + more hotels$$ + more cars. If they don’t start soon to figure out a way to limit the number of cars, Sedona’s problems will get a lot worse and then it may be too late.
A few suggestions:
Outlaw cars in the city. Make it bike or pedestrian only.
A huge toll on entering the city by car, residents excluded.
Defund the tourist office as they are directly responsible for this mess.
Thanks Tyler for that frightening thought of a Chinese invasion of the world’s tourist attractions. I failed to mention that the City does not need to spend millions advertising as many of the resorts here and outside the City limits do their own destination marketing so the City does not need to pay the bill for the Chamber’s advertising.
Tyler, as an added point to Venice, they are starting to charge tourists who are NOT staying in the city at the hotels a visitor’s fee as tourists are expensive especially when they do not spend.
John – what a concept!!!
Verle, I think you’re part of the problem. I’ve noticed a lot of Washington license plates in Sedona!
P.S. Gonzaga lost. Serves you right.
If you make HWY 179 from the Village to 89A a toll road, and Oak Creek Canyon a toll road you could solve the problem. I envision something like the 17 mile drive in
“Admission to 17-Mile Drive is $10.50 per vehicle. The gate fee is reimbursed with a purchase of $35 or more at all Pebble Beach Resorts restaurants, excluding Pebble Beach Market.”
Eliminate the $2.5 million chamber ripoff no bid contract.
I doubt it will happen until we have permanent gridlock during daylight hours.
Tony, 17-Mile Drive is owned and operated by the Pebble Beach Corporation a Corporation, 89a and 179 are state HWy. and built with state and federal fund. So Tony you are wrong one more time. The red rock new did a good editorial this week, you should read it . HAAAAA
How many years ago did the City wish to take over 89A in West Sedona?
Anything is possible. Life is change.
I don’t read the Red Rock Fake News, especially editorials written by lying morons. I’m sure you enjoy the Red Rock Fake News Steve.
Tony Tonsich says:
April 1, 2019 at 9:03 pm
If you make HWY 179 from the Village to 89A a toll road, and Oak Creek Canyon a toll road you could solve the problem,
Tony, this is why you lost last election, you know nothing !
179 and 89a are state funded intra state roads, and Sedona has not control over them. ADOT will be doing the work on the Y… not the city. Tony if you idea is so good show us one city in all of America that doest something like it. I thought you moved? if not do so at once.
Proving again you are not so bright, I did show you a city that does , not “doest something like it,” but exactly that.
[edited to remove comment]
Mr. Saunders, you are reminded to keep your comments relevant to the content of the article. Personal attacks will be removed.
CORRECTION: This editor has never advocated for a bridge at Red Rock Crossing. That issue was decided by the courts long ago. Visitors and new residents don’t know the historical background of the area.
Well, let me say that I am encouraged by the satire people are writing. Perhaps they are all newcomers and never had the opportunity to read the Sedona Excentric, where, for more than 25 years, we satired the Sedona growth, traffic, sewer and myriad other issues. I guess stealing our ideas is some form of flattery. In all honesty, I believe Morrie Horowitz did a far better job. So, to all you newbies from lands elsewhere, ask a local who has been here for more than a few months or a few years what The World Famous Sedona Excentric writers and editors had to say about what some of these people think are new topics. My favorite solution to congestion was when the city had to build a sewer system to accommodate the inundation of motels and timeshares. Our idea was to incorporate a subway system within the sewer line… the Sedona Hydraulic Interpenetrative Transit System, or the S.H.I.T.S. Oh, we already painted them black, sold them to Oprah, hollowed them out for a casino, used holograms to divert lookie-loos, dragged Bell Rock to 179 and tunneled it out for a toll booth, added toll booths to 89A, built a railway from Sedona to Cottonwood, tunneled from Sedona to Walmart…the list goes on and on – just like these unsolved issues. Good luck – good reading.
How about making 89a through Oak Creek Canyon a toll road? This will reduce traffic significantly. The toll could be adjusted up or down to easily regulate the flow. Different times of the day could have different toll amounts. The toll could be applied in one direction or both directions. We can let the state have the money. Problem solved.