As the city of Sedona enters the final stretch of its $250,000 transportation master plan, City Council has received numerous options of ways to potentially reduce vehicular traffic. But at the Tuesday, May 23, meeting the traffic discussed was of a different sort.
The purpose of this meeting was to take a closer look at solutions specific to West Sedona, including south side vehicular connections, bicycle and pedestrian pathways, pedestrian crossings and access management on State Route 89A, a city report states. While these improvements may not provide a significant reduction in travel times, they are an important component of providing safe multi-modal alternatives to the traveling public.
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’s final document, which is expected to be completed this summer.
Traffic congestion and circulation issues have been a long-standing concern for Sedona residents. Traffic conditions will predictably continue to deteriorate as the city approaches buildout if no action is taken to address the current situation and future needs, the report states.
“We know when we talk about changing neighborhoods, it’s a sensitive subject, especially for those who might be most impacted,” City Manager Justin Clifton said.
City staff will be putting together a second survey in regard to traffic. The first one had nearly 3,000 responses last year, far exceeding what staff had expected. This survey, expected to be on the city’s website within the next month, will have a more detailed list of potential projects with costs, benefits and trade-offs.
As he has in every other meeting, Clifton said these are simply conceptual ideas and that nothing has been set. Rather, they’re giving council as many options as possible to choose from.
In regard to vehicular connectivity, Clifton pointed out that north of State Route 89A, motorists can use Sanborn Drive and Thunder Mountain Road to traverse West Sedona without having to go on the highway. That can’t be said for the other side of the highway.
“On the south side we thought, ‘Boy, if we could only replicate something like what we have on the north,’” he said. “Frankly, the situation there is a little more difficult given the layout of the streets, whereas you have a pretty nice continuous route on the north side. You don’t get that nice, continuous flow on the south side.”
One proposal calls for six connections of varying distances that would allow motorists to drive from Arroyo Pinion Drive to Airport Road. The total length of the connections would be three-quarters of a mile at an estimated cost of $2.8 million. Included in that would be the roadway, drainage improvements and land acquisition.
Councilman Scott Jablow asked what may happen when acquiring land in regard to homeowner’s associations, especially those that have already expressed the desire to see no public access through their subdivisions.
“There are going to be challenges in any of these,” Clifton said. “Similarly, we might have private property owners to deal with as well as private streets. In all of those situations it would be a negotiation to try and secure access.”
As Clifton pointed out, connectivity within West Sedona doesn’t have to be limited to just vehicles. His presentation also included possible bicycle and pedestrian paths. He said in regard to bicyclists, people fall into one of four categories: Strong and fearless, enthused and confident, interested but concerned and no way, no how.
He said studies have shown that roughly 60 percent of those asked fall into the interested but concerned category. Meaning, they want to ride their bikes but not in heavily-trafficked areas, preferring to ride on designated bike paths away from vehicles. These concepts also call for additional sidewalks — mostly on the north side of the highway — as well as shared use pathways for both bicyclists and pedestrians.
No costs estimates were presented at the meeting for these types of improvements.
“Admittedly, when you’re talking transit or walking and riding, I don’t think — based on the way we have built our entire environment — we’re going to rival the numbers we see in people who choose to use their vehicles. They’re going to be much smaller,” Clifton said, adding that as years go by and more alternatives options are provided to visitors and residents, those numbers may eventually change.
“This way you will have facilitated a transition in that behavior, even if they’re not doing it now.”