By Scott Jablow, Sedona City Councilor
Sedona AZ (March 15, 2018) – Traffic has probably been the #1 hot topic over the course of the last several years, and certainly during the last city election cycle. The need to actually “do something” to address Sedona’s traffic issues was one of the primary reasons I and my fellow city councilors were elected. There is no quick fix or silver bullet, but I am very happy to report that this city council IS doing something — in fact many things — to tackle the community’s traffic issues. Progress is being made and will continue to be made until we see some relief.
As most of you know the council and city staff spent the majority of 2016 and 2017 developing a comprehensive Transportation Master Plan to identify strategies for improving traffic flow, and because there is no single solution, improving options for travel by bicycle, on foot and transit.
The Transportation Master Plan, completed at the end of 2017, identifies a series of big-picture strategies for improved mobility along with a number of specific projects. Many of those projects are already budgeted and are in the planning or design phases, with an expectation that construction will begin within the next year.
Among the first projects are Uptown roadway improvements that include adding a second southbound lane on State Route 89A; constructing a decorative median to mitigate left-turn conflicts and jaywalking; constructing turnarounds at the north and south ends of Uptown; and adding a new road connection between southbound SR89A and the public parking areas on Schnebly Road.
We know that these projects will entail a significant impact on the Uptown area, so the next year will feature discussions with all of the Uptown stakeholders, followed by a lot of planning, design and engineering work. While I wish we could see shovels in the ground tomorrow, this up-front work is critical to ensuring that the end result is well-conceived, effective at mitigating traffic and cost-effective. Especially in an area like Uptown, where so many residents and businesses will be affected by construction, we want to be sure that our planning and phasing is the best it can be in order to minimize disruptions.
In addition to these projects in the active planning stage, preliminary planning is underway to identify new neighborhood connections for residents, consider a new connection between Forest Road and SR89A to allow Uptown residents to bypass the roundabouts at the Y and Brewer Road, scope out bicycle and pedestrian improvements, add travel information signs on I-17, and develop an plan for a visitor-focused shuttle system for greater Sedona and into Oak Creek Canyon.
The new half-cent transportation sales tax, combined with existing city funds and the pursuit of grants and other outside funding, allows us to aggressively pursue traffic improvements identified through the Transportation Master Plan. I want to thank the group of Sedona citizens with expertise in finance and business who worked together for the better part of a year to recommend the best way to fund these improvements. This group of residents determined that new funds were necessary to accomplish our goals, and they recommended the time-limited sales tax that began on March 1. The tax will expire in 10 years or when residents feel enough projects have been completed to improve traffic, whichever comes first. We estimate that 65 percent of these tax revenues, like all of our local tax revenues, will be paid by visitors.
Stay informed about the improvements that are beginning under the Transportation Master Plan by visiting our Sedona In Motion website, sedonaaz.gov/sim.
How about an overpath to connect the two Tlaquepaque complexes?
This would eliminate cars having to stop for foot traffic that backs up into 89A.
You ask a great question and I wanted to personally respond. There are more projects that Council has approved just too many to put into the article. To get a better understanding of what traffic management projects are coming to Sedona please click this hyperlink to go to Sedona in Motion:
All the best,
City of Sedona
102 Roadrunner Drive
Sedona AZ 86336
NOTE: Unless specifically stated to the contrary, any opinions expressed above are mine alone and do not necessarily represent the views of the Sedona City Council or any other organization.
In less than 8 years after completion SR179 operates at or above its capacity. Within 7 years, at the historical growth rate of 2.5% per year, ALL segments of SR179 and SR89A will operate at or above their capacity. (Transportation Master Plan, Table 2.6, p 35).
Improving roadways for significantly more traffic creates an unending cycle of improvements that ultimately leads to more traffic. Community goals, therefore, are to limit the building of new roads and promote a more walkable and bike-able community. (Community Plan, Circulation p 57-58).
Blaming pedestrians for traffic congestion ignores the inevitable reality of traffic growth in addition to ignoring the stated Community Plan goals and visions for circulation
The most egregious example of encouraging more traffic, discouraging pedestrian activity and damaging the character of Uptown and the Gallery District are the suggestions to construct 3 pedestrian bridges in Uptown and one at Tlaquepaque.
Pedestrian bridges perpetuate the idea that the right-of-way is the sole domain of the automobile. Automobiles are presumed to have the ultimate right to unimpeded travel and all other users of the roadway are intruders.
Most traffic engineers and pedestrian studies suggest that, unless there is a substantial natural depression (for a tunnel), a substantial natural elevation difference (for a bridge) or constructed over a river or freeway, pedestrian bridges and tunnels are the most expensive and least effective methods for promoting pedestrian activity.
Pedestrian bridges, with their 8 foot high barricades, elevator shafts and stairways, are imposing, intrusive 3 story structures over and along roadways. They are entirely out of character with the low profile one an two story structures in Uptown and along SR179 which are setback from the roadway. The road improvements, while improving traffic flow, will change the character of the corridor and make it less comfortable for pedestrians (Transportation Management Plan p 66).
Traffic congestion in Sedona can not be solved without addressing traffic congestion in Oak Creek Canyon (Transportation Management Plan p 95). Fifty per cent of travelers to Oak Creek Canyon do not Stop in Sedona. (Causes of Congestion, AB2147 Jan 10, 2017 p 36).
Discouraging drive through traffic to Oak Creek Canyon with Dynamic Message Signage (Transportation Master Plan p 120). and limiting road side parking and recreational use by reservation systems at campgrounds, trail heads and Slide Rock are a couple of the more appropriate, effective and less costly alternatives to altering the SR179 / 89A corridor into an urban highway and landscape that encourages even more traffic.
I drove to the “Y” on a Sunday, March 11th to be exact. I was on 179 coming from the Village and the backup started just before I got to Poco Diablo. So for the next half hour it was stop and go traffic, not all the way to the “Y”, but all the way to Tlaquepaque. Once I got there traffic was being stopped by lots of pedestrians walking across the road whenever they wanted to! If pedestrians were not stopping traffic every few seconds the car traffic would have a chance to move and clear up. Once I got past Tlaquepaque it was clear sailing to and through the roundabouts at the “Y”. How do you stop pedestrians from gumming up the works? Yes a pedestrian bridge or tunnel would be nice, and it would be even nicer if pedestrians actually used it! But in the meantime, how about a stop light at the pedestrian crosswalk connecting T-North to T-South and it only turns red once every 5 minutes for 30 seconds if the button has been pushed. No button pushed, no turning red. Yes, I am proposing a stop light on 179 after all that hard work to take them out! But it would be better than having hundreds of little stop lights walking into the street whenever they want to! I’m a pedestrian every now and then down there and I wouldn’t mind that at all!
Also, on 89A in West Sedona, I sometimes sit at traffic lights for a long time and nothing is moving. Can you speed those up? Can a residential street north of 89A and another street south of 89A can be upgraded to no stop signs going east/west, so residents can have an alternative way to get around without having to jump on 89A?
A rapid flash beacon was proposed at Tlaquepaque. Plans and permit were submitted to ADOT but the Northern Regional Office never approved it. Eventually they wouldn’t even respond to requests regarding permit status. Tlaquepaque deposited $20,000 in escrow in lieu of installing the beacon.