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Numerous closures of Oak Creek Canyon in the past year have made life difficult for business owners in the area and now the switchbacks are closed again.

?It?s like, ?What now??? Indian Gardens business owner Stonie Orth said.

By Trista Steers
Larson Newspapers
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Numerous closures of Oak Creek Canyon in the past year have made life difficult for business owners in the area and now the switchbacks are closed again.

?It?s like, ?What now??? Indian Gardens business owner Stonie Orth said.

Monday, Feb. 19, Arizona Department of Transportation closed the entire canyon during a snowstorm. On Tuesday, Feb. 20, the switchbacks remained closed to repair a section of road that broken off.

The switchbacks will be closed for at least two weeks, according to ADOT Public Information Officer Jodi Sorrell.

However, the rest of the canyon is still open including businesses on the Sedona side of the switchbacks.

?Whether you?re a business or a resident up here, you?ve got to have a heartier outlook,? Orth said. ?The canyon is subject to a lot of problems.?

Wednesday, Feb. 14, ADOT closed the switchbacks to deal with a 10-foot section of the northbound lane that fell into the canyon when the retaining wall beneath gave way.

ADOT reopened the canyon later Wednesday afternoon to single-lane traffic through the section.

Wednesday was tough for business owners, Orth said.

?A lot of businesses closed altogether that day,? Orth said. ?We stayed open but there was little traffic.?

Orth said Indian Gardens relies heavily on through traffic between Sedona and Flagstaff in the spring, which is disrupted by the closure.

?This time of year so much of your business is affected by traffic going back and forth,? Orth said.

Dairy Queen is having a tough time as well.

?I?m not able to pay my employees,? Dairy Queen manager Aaron Johnson said. ?I can?t even put them to work.?

Normally, Johnson puts four employees on shift each day. During canyon closures he cuts his staff to one or two.

?It?s a tourist-driven town and we?re not getting any,? Johnson said.

ADOT Senior Resident Engineer Carl Burkhalter said that, weather permitting, the canyon will hopefully reopen after two weeks — before spring break hits.

?If it goes past the second week of March, that would hurt,? Orth said.


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