By Scott Jablow, City Councilor
Sedona AZ (February 24, 2017) – Traffic is one of the biggest concerns in our city, to residents and tourists alike. The last traffic study was conducted more than 20 years ago and is now obsolete.
For the past few months our Transportation Master Plan consultant, Kimley-Horn, has been studying traffic conditions and exploring alternatives, strategies and possible improvements. In order to collect as much quantitative information as possible to drive decision-making, Kimley-Horn worked with a company named AirSage to use cell phone data to map travel patterns and destinations. AirSage tracks anonymous cell phone signal movement is it enters and exits predefined areas. In our case, all cell “pings” were tracked from I-17 at Exit 298 (Route 179) and Exit 287 (Route 260), Route 89A and the switchbacks, as well as various zones within and around Sedona. Cell phone tracking is a technology that was not available in earlier studies and proved to reveal a great deal about travel in Sedona.
According to AirSage, in the month of March, 2016, one of our busiest tourist months, 81 percent of trips occurring within Sedona on weekends were made by visitors. The data also revealed that approximately 90 percent of travelers entering Sedona from I-17 used State Route 179 and only 10 percent used State Route 260, suggesting an opportunity to divert travelers onto 89A via 260, particularly on weekends when Route 179 is over capacity. Another finding: approximately 50 percent of those visitors recreating in Oak Creek Canyon never stop within the city of Sedona – but create traffic issues as they pass through on the way there and back.
The preliminary report presented to city council on Jan. 10 by Kimley-Horn supported many of the community’s suggestions and offered a few others.
For the sake of space I will focus on only two of the strategies contained in the report:
Strategy 3 Uptown Sedona street Improvements: (1) Add a raised median on SR 89A through Uptown. (2) Construct an additional southbound travel lane on SR 89A. (3) Construct a roundabout at the north and south ends of Uptown on SR 89A. (4) Restripe the northbound SR 89A left turn lane south of Jordan Road. (5) Add a bypass lane at the Y of northbound SR 179 to northbound 89A.
The anticipated benefits to these strategies are: a second southbound travel lane with a raised median would improve southbound travel time by over 60 percent and increase average travel speed from the current 5 to10 mph to nearly 20 mph. The median would restrict left turns, which would reduce conflicts with through-traffic, and would limit jaywalking which further restricts vehicular movement.
Strategy 6 Travel Information System: (1) Use travel information technology on corridors leading to Sedona to provide travelers real-time information. (2) Construct a travel information center on SR 179 near the Red Rock Ranger Station. (3) Create an Information Center/Multimodal Transportation Center in Uptown Sedona. (4) Create a smartphone app to provide travel time, transit and parking information.
The anticipated benefits to these strategies? Real-time traveler information that will assist motorists in making informed decisions about which routes to take, maximizing the efficiency and capacity of SR 179 and SR 260, and reduced travel time and less-congested routes. The mobility pattern data shows that approximately 4,000 weekend trips and 2,500 weekend trips could potentially be diverted from state routes 179 and 89A.
For the full packet of materials from the Jan.10 city council meeting and the other strategies offered in the Kimley-Horn visit http://www.sedonaaz.gov/Home/ShowDocument?id=30393. If you have any questions or unique traffic ideas, feel free to call me at 928-239-1720.
The opinions expressed above are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the other members of the Sedona City Council.
After reading this article I spoke with Councilman Jablow since he did say to call if one had questions. He was most kind with his time and during our conversation I learned about “the fence”. A fence the traffic consulting company Kimley Horn recommends for Uptown Sedona. They suggest a “fence” be installed right down the middle of 89A in Uptown from Forest Road north to the end of the shopping strip. How nice!!! A fence that not only would remove some room from the lanes, look ugly and extremely urban as in a big city but, would prevent a snow plough from traversing along 89A in that section. To learn this once before was evidently not enough. Years ago the City installed a median down the center of 89A. A few weeks later Coconino County, Flagstaff wrote our City a letter stating they could no longer plough our streets after a big storm because the new median prevented the plough from getting through.
Here we go again. Lesson not learned. Evidently the fence is also supposed to stop jaywalkers. I have lived Uptown for 38 years and often instead of turning onto Forest Rd I will drive through town and turn at Apple just to see what, if anything is going on. I truly believe the talk about jaywalkers is way over exaggerated. I rarely have had to stop for one. I believe they are being used to justify installing a fence. The fence is also being suggested to stop drivers making left hand turns to cross a lane when they spot an available parking spot.
Again, I rarely witness this happening. So it happens now and then
I doubt it is responsible for so many cars Uptown.
It does appear to me that nearly all decisions being made by the City Council and City Staff continue to urbanize Sedona and take away our small town atmosphere what is left of it.
There are other decisions being made that totally urbanize our town but, since they are not relevant to the article written by Councilman Jablow I will not address
them at this time.
A “FENCE” in the middle of Main Street Uptown. What ugly town did that idea come from.
What we need to do is the revolutionary idea of stopping giving the Chamber of Commerce millions of dollars a year to advertise for more tourists
especially the “day trippers”. Sedona is now known around the world and the majority of visitors are not coming because they saw an ad placed by the Chamber of Commerce. We are in a new age of technology and words are passed around faster than a magazine. Wake up City Council and City Staff, you are actually destroying our beautiful town which no longer has the small town atmosphere it once did which was its charm. All the charm has disappeared. It has become nothing but one large resort.
Very sad indeed.
Of course, Joan Shannon who lives on Smith Road one block from Forest Road and normally does not travel City 89A in Uptown, knows more about jaywalkers than consultants Kimley-Horn and Associates who’ve been studying the area for the past few months.
On March 15, 2008, after completion of the Uptown Enhancement Project, columnist Cyndy Hardy wrote seven paragraphs in SEDONA BIZ about JAYWALKERS. She began with:
“Jaywalkers have been a problem in Uptown for years. They amble across the road at random points, which makes vehicles slow or stop–interrupting the smooth flow of traffic. Some years ago, the city installed signalized crosswalks at Forest Road and midway up the retail strip expecting that pedestrians would a) use them; and b) patiently wait for their turn to cross the highway. But, like water, pedestrians often choose the path of least resistance….”
From Cyndy’s many paragraphs about MOTORISTS in her “Council frets over same old, same old traffic woes in Uptown Sedona” article:
“As for vehicle traffic, signage and access to parking are still major issues even after construction…..Most motorists seem to want parking on Hwy 89A anyway. ‘Someone pulls up to wait for a car to back out of a space and the backer has to back right into traffic,’ Mr. [Harvey] Stearn, [a City Councilman at the time] said. Before the enhancement project, incoming drivers could pull out of traffic to wait and parked drivers had room to back up without being in the roadway….”
Folks, the City’s narrower design of Hwy 89A was a disaster for traffic flow.
ADOT’s Hwy 89A merge lane, used for southbound egress by Uptown residents living off the dead-ending Jordan Road thoroughfare, was terminated in order to widen 89A’s west sidewalk and accommodate tables, chairs, and umbrellas. Traffic flow and the public good were sacrificed again, this time to benefit the Cowboy Club and Silver Saddle Restaurants.
Jean: Yes I do see many jaywalkers but, what I meant was not as many as reported right on 89A and I frequently drive through town and turn at Apple. Where I do see jaywalkers is on Forest Road where I make my turn to home. They are coming from the Hyatt Timeshares and/or shopping center and do not bother to walk down to the crosswalk. However, this problem is not impeding traffic traversing through Uptown on 89A. I have lived here for 38 years and the traffic problems in West Sedona concern me most of all where all the accidents including fatalities occur.
At extremely busy times when Tlaquepaque holds special festivals the traffic problems at the “Y” are horrendous. During one Festival night it took me 41 minutes to drive from Airport Rd north to the roundabouts. This happens with every festival and there are never policemen directing traffic at the roundabouts.
Now the City wants to have even more festivals. I have complained to the Police Department about this several times but, no one seems to care.
Sedona has lost all its charm and becoming a continuous performing circus. I welcome the bad weather and snow which gives residents a break. If this way of running a City continues Sedona well get a bad name and many visitors will not return a second time. It would not be the first time a beautiful city has suffered this fate.
I live over one mile farther north in Sedona than Joan and take Uptown 89A through the tourist area several times a week. I see as many jaywalkers impeding traffic on 89A as reported.The City does not currently have its own jaywalking ordinance.
I couldn’t agree more with Joan that Sedona has lost it’s charm. I know many residents who are disgusted with the declining quality of life here as well as with the City Council and Chamber of Commerce love fest.
I live over one mile farther north in Uptown than Joan and must use Hwy 89A for egress several times a week. Jaywalkers impeding traffic on 89A is a serious problem. The City does not currently have a jaywalking ordinance allowing citations.
I worked in the data field for many years and you can take the same set of data and make it fit your argument pro or con in 90% of situations and to me this is one. Is traffic an issue? Yes. But whoever can put the bigger spin on the facts will once again prevail in Sedona.
As someone who has lived or has had family live in Sedona since the early 70’s I hate to concur with others above but Sedona has lost its charm that made it such a special place on earth. It had the small town feel in a location unlike any other on earth, it truly was a special place. Then the West coast influence and its values of grab as much as you can then scream not in my back yard started-and hasnt stopped. The new age influx was big but they didnt create the current atmosphere and environment that now exists where so many people, events and businesses think that the town revolves around them. How often do you hear someone going on and on about the problems here then say they have lived here 5 years or less. Maybe you sir are part of the problem.
As for tourists wont want to come back, just do a little google travel site searching, you will see as many ratings complaining about lack or parking, reasonable places to stay or eat (because everything is full) and a real tourist trap, money grab atmosphere for every review praising the town.
Sedona is a growing town, it is booming and will keep growing over 8000 people work in Sedona. Sedona is a tourist town, always has been, 2,000,000 more people will be moving to Arizona in the next 10 years…… Live with it or move. One hotel just sold for $90,000,000+ so someone thinks Sedona is a good place to invest.
your view is just that your view, please do not force it on the 8000 of us that make our living in Sedona work very hard to make Sedona a great place to visit.
The 25 Most Popular Cities to Visit in America
A landmark of Sedona’s skyline and one of the most photographed sights in Arizona, Cathedral Rock is located in the Coconino National Forest.
A landmark of Sedona’s skyline and one of the most photographed sights in Arizona, Cathedral Rock is located in the Coconino National Forest.
Sedona Named #13 Among Top 25 US Destinations by TripAdvisor …
Yes 13 out of all the towns in America…… do the numbers
To say that those of us who have lived here for decades and remember how beautiful it was living in Sedona before we incorporated should live with the horrors of what is happening to Sedona or move represents the arrogance that permeates
with many business owners in Sedona. Sedona does not belong to only business owners. Chamber of Commerce brags that if it were not for them we would not have a library, humane society and other amenities and events represents this arrogance. We had all those things before we incorporated. I could walk to the library on Jordan Road so I know of what I speak. My husband and I adopted a cat from our Humane Society before we incorporated. We had many volunteers and residents who supported organizations.
It is correct that before the City of Sedona took over 89a in Uptown traffic flowed much easier and getting into and out of a parking space was easy. The so called “Enhancement of Uptown” has turned it into a place that could be anywhere in America (without the red rocks which the City has nothing to do with). No charm, no uniqueness. The jut out of landscaping in front of Cheer
s at 89a and Forest causes more of a traffic jam. Waiting to make a right hand turn with three or more cars in front waiting for the light causes a problem because that right hand turn lane was taken away.
According to the traffic report due in May many of the cars coming into Uptown are from drivers just “passing through” on the way to the Grand Canyon and do not stop. They want to take the scenic drives along H179 and through Oak Creek Canyon.
Instead of the City thinking that the town cannot withstand more tourists they do all they can to think up ways to bring in more. This is typical of all politicians and City Councils do not differ. How can we bring in more money so we have more to spend.
In 2005 the City planned on a second public parking lot in Uptown right into a residential area. The special traffic study report said it would bring at least 2000 cars a day into the neighborhood. This would have caused immense problems. Huge traffic back ups at Jordan and 89a and at the lights at Forest and 89a not to mention devalue of residential homes and noise and residents facing a huge problem just getting to a supermarket or doctor’s office. A lot of money was spent on the study and architectural plans etc. Fortunately on the verge of it taking place it was stopped. However, before then the City had no caring for all these problems that would have occurred. Just advertise to bring in more tourists and then try and figure out where to put them is not the best plan.
To clarify my comments: when I state “the City” I am not referring to City employees, but to the Council who directs what should or not be done.
If Sedona continues on this path it could become almost unbearable to live here. We have lost 400 residents due to all these problems. Many to Cornville, Cottonwood, Clarkdale, Prescott, Prescott Valley and out of State. I have spoken with many of them.
Instead of the City spending so much money on projects not needed for the town more money should be allocated for the sewer plant so our monthly fees will not escalate to $100 per month as stated by Tim Ernster, former City Manager before he retired a in 2015. Now they will increase anyway due to the most recent bill passed by the State Legislature. To continually spend money to entertain tourists and not save residents money lacks an understanding on my part since Council members and City Staff also live here.
At least the City did fight hard to stop the Legislature passing the bill allowing homes to be turned in motels and I thank them for that. Our City Attorney Mr. Pickels truly worked overtime on that issue and I was very appreciative. I myself called EVERY Legislator and emailed them all and spoke with several and it was a real battle. All they cared about was more for the State not the housing crisis it would and now is causing.
Thanks to Sedona Biz for providing this platform for our venting.
Jennifer Wesselhoff revealed the Chamber of Commerce is in a 120-day escrow on the 401 Jordan Road property in Uptown “right now,” with escrow ending on May 8th (3/01/2017 Sedona City Council Meeting, AB 2204). Didn’t Jennifer blind-side the City Council? Who authorized this, if anyone?
Council has yet to make a final decision about the Jordan Road property one way or another; Wednesday, March 15, 2017 is the next/last(?) meeting. Jennifer said the Chamber can still get out of the contract.
The Chamber seeks to be granted, and spend, $1.125 Million (+$250,000 to improve the building’s parking lot) in future Product Development funds so as to pay off the asking price by fiscal year 2022. The Chamber wants a 5-year contract with the City in addition to taxpayer funds totaling $1,375,000.
One of the initial Chamber goals for the Jordan Road property is to utilize many of the 45 parking spaces there as a Staging Area for Tour Operators. Vendors would use the parking lot to pick up and drop off visitors who are looking to participate in activities in and around Sedona. Events managers could also use the lot to pick up people who will be attending their event. In addition, the property could provide parking for Uptown employees according to the Chamber. Alleged as a revenue generator, the private sector could rent spaces for their employees, but would they do this?
The Arizona Constitution’s “Gift Clause” prohibits “any donation or grant, by subsidy or otherwise, to any individual, association, or corporation.” Division 1 of the Arizona Court of Appeals found an agreement violates the “Gift Clause” if the public expenditure to a private party unduly promotes private interests in the 2010 CITY NORTH case, Turken v. Gordon (the Mayor of Phoenix).
The Appeals Court ruled that a City can no longer use indirect benefits (sale taxes in the CITY NORTH case) in order to comply with the “Gift Clause”–only direct benefits. With regard to the Jordan Road property, the City of Sedona must get in return something that is of equal or similar value to what it will be giving, if approved. Apparently, a large portion of the $1,375,000 in taxpayer funds will unduly promote private interests.