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At this point, there’s no turning back on Phase II of the Arizona Department of Transportation’s $39-million highway project for Sedona.

The starting flag for the 575-day contract dropped on Dec. 21 and there’s no better advice than to relax and try to enjoy it.

By Susan Johnson

Larson Newspapers

 At this point, there’s no turning back on Phase II of the Arizona Department of Transportation’s $39-million highway project for Sedona.

The starting flag for the 575-day contract dropped on Dec. 21 and there’s no better advice than to relax and try to enjoy it.

When the bulldozing and paving are finally finished, from the dust and the dirt will emerge roads that are a pleasure to drive, roads that are wider, safer and more efficient.

Active Image In the meantime, to help everyone see beyond the bumps and pylons, ADOT, the Sedona Chamber of Commerce, the city of Sedona and many area businesses are working on concepts to make the interim easier to bear.

“One of the things we learned from the Uptown project was that consistent signage is very important to businesses in the area,” Jennifer Wesselhoff, president of the Sedona chamber, said.

The city of Banff in the province of Alberta, Canada, sits in a region as beautiful and environmentally sensitive as the one that Sedona occupies.

The similarities to Sedona don’t end there.

Banff is also heavily dependent on tourist traffic for its revenues and it is currently undergoing a similar municipal construction projection.

To keep the duration of the digging light-hearted, the northern destination developed caricatures of iconic Canadian squirrels to guide visitors through the flashing lights and striped danger zones.

Modelling Sedona’s campaign on Banff’s, but with a Southwestern theme, the chamber developed an extended family of funky javelinas to point the way toward local restaurants, lodging, shopping, hiking and New Age establishments.

The new signs will go up as soon as ADOT approves the design.

Karen Reynolds Dilks, general manager of Hillside Sedona and property manager of Hozho Center, said she’s pleased with what the chamber is doing to help.

She and other nearby landlords recently formed the Sedona Gallery District Group to contribute their ideas to the campaign.

“We’re very positive about the construction  —  it’s going to bring walkability to our area,” Dilks said. “We’re planning special joint events that will encourage people to go from Hillside to Garland’s to Tlaquepaque.”

To make shopping locally even easier during the construction, the city is partnering with the Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority to use Sedona RoadRunner trolleys to encourage visitors to park their cars and leave the driving to a pro.

The chamber’s campaign is designed to be low-cost and it is seeking financial sponsorship from non-local companies that have a vested interest in seeing Sedona businesses thrive.

Those companies include suppliers like Coca-Cola, Shamrock Foods and wine distributors to start.

In addition to signs, contests are planned that reward visitors who patronize local businesses.

“We’re planning a scavenger hunt where people can collect matching javelina stamps,” Wesselhoff said. “The grand prize is an all-expenses paid return visit to Sedona when the construction is finished.”

To keep the project on time, ADOT established incentives for early completion as well as fines for delays by the contractors.

Work crews were taking no chances on those delays as evidenced by two backhoes, a dump truck and a squad of laborers working apace on Presidents Day, Monday, Feb. 18, preparing the Uptown U.S. Post Office grounds for its new driveway.

When it’s finished, post office patrons will no longer need to play Russian roulette with five lanes of traffic plus oncoming cars shooting out of both Brewer Road and the turning lane from the Hyatt Piñon Pointe.

Entering and exiting will be from a one-way section on Hwy. 89A between two roundabouts.

Perhaps the easiest way to visualize the new traffic pattern is as a vertical barbell with the top circle being a four-armed roundabout serving Hwy. 89A north and south, Hwy. 179 and the driveway to the Hyatt Piñon Pointe, an intersection now referred to as the ‘Y.’

On the lower circle, will be three arms, serving Hwy. 89A north and south and Brewer Road.

The vertical bar in between is a section of Hwy. 89A with a median.

Post office patrons coming from West Sedona will go straight through the first roundabout and then around the second, returning south on Hwy. 89A to enter.

Everyone exiting the post office will head south to the lower circle and then either continue proceeding south on Hwy. 89A or go around and head north or turn onto Brewer Road.

According to Kristin Darr, ADOT’s spokeswoman, the existing lanes in and out of the post office will remain open until the new configuration is complete.


Susan Johnson can be reached at 282-7795, Ext. 129 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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