City News

The Sedona City Council has spent numerous hours reviewing potential options to mitigate traffic in and around Sedona.

But during its Tuesday, May 9, meeting, discussions went in a slightly different direction.

While most of the talk until now has been about potential construction projects to accommodate the number of vehicles now and in the future, this meeting focused on ways to get people out of their cars and into alternate forms of transportation.

Council has already received some options at previous meetings including those for the Uptown area and Red Rock Crossing as well as State Route 179 as it enters Sedona.

It’s all part of the city’s ongoing $250,000 transportation master plan, which is expected to be completed in June. Council will receive additional potential options at its Thursday, May 25, meeting. That will be followed by at least one open house — date to be determined — where the public can give additional input.

The purpose of Tuesday’s meeting was to take a closer look at transit and technology recommendations. Some technologyrelated improvements are expected to be implemented in the short term, whereas transit-related alternatives are considered more of a long-term solution, a city report states.

“If our community is built for more than vehicles, we believe there will be use of those systems and there will be less reliance on motor vehicles,” City Manager Justin Clifton said. “With the way we’ve built out with streets that aren’t connected, relatively spread out and only a few ways in and out of the community, that seems more daunting initially. But we think there’s a lot of value to exploring these opportunities whether they’re implemented now or later.”

As he has in past meetings, Clifton said anything discussed at this point is purely conceptual and that nothing has been set in stone. The first hour of his presentation centered on creating new bus routes on weekends during peak seasons between the Village of Oak Creek, through Sedona to Slide Rock with stops along the way.

The service would be provided by a third-party vendor. Whether there would be a cost for riders using this service has yet to be determined. However, those traveling to Slide Rock would pay since there is an entrance fee to that park.

The buses would run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Based on peak periods where it takes 36 minutes from the “Y” to Bell Rock Boulevard, this would save an estimated five minutes. In all, this approach would cost a little more than $2 million and would include six buses, bus stop improvements and a park and ride lot. Annual operating costs are estimated at $324,480.

“With transit it’s difficult to just dip your toe in,” Clifton said. “What we have here is the route 90 percent of the people use when coming to Sedona [SR 179], a large volume of which are going to the canyon. This is a way to jump in without trying to build infrastructure to the entire system.

“There are a lot of people coming up this road, many are coming for the day and a lot of them with a destination along the corridor. It [bus route] is focused on that day-tripper but anybody who has reason to travel on this corridor may find this appealing.”

Another option to reduce vehicles along State Route 179 would be to extend the existing Verde Lynx service to the VOC. The bus would run 14 hours a day, 362 days a year. Normal Lynx fees would apply.

Clifton said it would be beneficial to visitors as well as those VOC residents who work in Sedona and vice versa. The cost of a new bus is $140,000 with annual operating costs of $329,420. However, 58 percent of operating costs are funded through grants while the remaining 42 percent would be split between Yavapai County, Coconino County and the city of Sedona.

“This alternative does not provide significant congestion reduction benefits to SR 179, but provides enhanced transportation choices for employees, residents and visitors,” Clifton’s report states.

Additional alternatives discussed included neighborhood electric vehicles, which would be used to take visitors and residents between Uptown, West Sedona, Tlaquepaque and Hillside.

The vehicles, which are currently being used in tourists towns like Aspen and San Diego, hold six passengers and would be operated by a third-party vendor. Cost estimates vary on purchasing 10 of these vehicles from $200,000 to $300,000. That does not include annual operating costs.

The report did not state whether this would be a free service or if there would be a nominal charge.

The final alternative discussed was the installation of real-time informational signs for inbound Sedona travelers along Interstate 17. These signs would allow motorists to determine if they take State Route 260 through Cottonwood or State Route 179 through the VOC en route to Sedona.

Data could be obtained either by private data providers, or through a system developed collaboratively with the Arizona Department of Transportation.

The cost associated with this is estimated at $100,000.

“All of these are ideas that will be captured and presented so that we’ll have sound analysis to make decisions from,” Clifton said. “This is not a prescriptive road map. We’re not saying we should do all these things and do them all together. They have different costs and different benefits. And at the end when this is all wrapped up, we’ll come back and decide which of these do we want to pursue first and which would we wait on.”


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