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With construction on the Hwy. 179 Improvement Project in full swing, traffic is moving slowly along the corridor, particularly in the Village of Oak Creek where four-way stops have replaced the stoplights at the intersections of Bell Rock Boulevard and Jacks Canyon Road.


By Trista Steers
Larson Newspapers
________________


Cars backed up for miles has now become part of the scenery on scenic Hwy. 179.

With construction on the Hwy. 179 Improvement Project in full swing, traffic is moving slowly along the corridor, particularly in the Village of Oak Creek where four-way stops have replaced the stoplights at the intersections of Bell Rock Boulevard and Jacks Canyon Road.

?I hadn?t experienced traffic like that since I lived in a big city,? Annalee Hammon, a VOC resident, said.

Hammon said on Saturday, Nov. 4, northbound traffic was backed up to Beaverhead Flat Road and it took her an hour to get to her home, located behind Ace Hardware near the Bell Rock Boulevard intersection.

?I was watching cars turn around and go the other way,? Hammon said.

These could be tourists, Hammon said, on their way to spend money in Sedona who are discouraged by the traffic.

Mary Schnack, communications manager for the Hwy. 179 project, deferred comment to ADOT.

Carl Burkhalter, ADOT?s project manager for the Hwy. 179 Project, said ADOT recognized the problem and immediately sent crews down to deal with the issue.

Now, ADOT is experimenting with ways to better route traffic through the VOC, Burkhalter said, including the installation of cement barriers along detours.

?Maybe drivers could have been confused on where to go,? Burkhalter said.

Construction crews began lining the east side of Hwy. 179 with barriers to block off the construction zone and give motorists a better idea of where the road has been diverted to.

According to Burkhalter, ADOT is also working on stoplight regulation.

The former stoplights at the intersections of Bell Rock Boulevard and Jacks Canyon Road now function a majority of the time as four-way stops.

?That?s working pretty good actually,? Burkhalter said.

Temporary stoplights, which are being used, don?t have sensors to detect traffic and regulate light intervals.

Subsequently, ADOT has to set the timers by guessing how long each light needs to be green.

Burkhalter said the goal is to keep traffic flowing on Hwy. 179 by whichever means prove most feasible.

Weekend traffic is going to be heavier as visitors make their way to Sedona, Burkhalter said. He believes that ADOT is now ready to deal with it.

This weekend, ADOT will have flaggers on duty to step in if the same situation occurs.

?People can figure it [a routing solution] out better than a traffic light,? Burkhalter said.

Hammon said the construction needs to be done, but traffic flow also needs to be addressed.

?We also need to have it [traffic] run more smoothly than it did on Saturday,? Hammon said.


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