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The alternate route issue has weaseled its way back into the spotlight with the Sedona City Council?s approval of yet another study aimed at addressing traffic concerns in Sedona.

By Trista Steers
Larson Newspapers

The alternate route issue has weaseled its way back into the spotlight with the Sedona City Council?s approval of yet another study aimed at addressing traffic concerns in Sedona.

City Manager Eric Levitt said this study will be different than those from the past because it will take a more in-depth look at the traffic issue and be focused on the needs of the community.

EDAW, an environmental engineering firm out of Colorado, will be working with DMJM Harris, the engineers of the Hwy. 179 project, to collect data and present possible solutions to the council.

Councilman Rob Adams, who voted against the study along with Councilman Harvey Stearn, said the time isn?t right.

All of the key players, including Arizona Department of Transportation and Yavapai County, don?t support an alternate route, Adams said, therefore the funding isn?t going to be there to take action following the study.

According to Adams, ADOT won?t get involved with construction of another road in the Sedona area until the Hwy. 179 project is complete.

?We probably should have placed the alternate route before the widening of [Hwy.] 179,? Adams said.

County support is also something Adams thinks is needed.

?The county is key here, and we don?t have the county on our side,? Adams said.

Cole Greenberg, who spoke in opposition to the study during the public comment segment at council?s meeting, agrees that money shouldn?t be spent on a study if the results can?t be funded.

Greenberg was a member of the Citizens Alternate Route Task Force, appointed by Yavapai County District 3 Supervisor Chip Davis, which conducted a study regarding this issue in 1997.

?Here it is 10 years later, and it?s still the same exact result,? Greenberg said, there still isn?t any money to move forward.

?We spent 12 months, thousands of man hours and came up with nothing,? Greenberg said.

The task force?s final position statement identified a need for better traffic distribution in the city and said if an alternate route was in place prior to the Hwy. 179 project it ?would be in everyone?s best interest.?

While lack of funding was cited as a draw back, most people who turned out in opposition at the council?s meeting focused on Red Rock Crossing, Levitt said.

That specific site, Levitt said, isn?t even mentioned in the study proposal.

The new study will consider all solutions — not just construction of another road.

?If you have a non-transportation firm that is the lead of the study they are more likely to be looking at other options,? Levitt said.

Sedona Fire District Chief Matt Shobert said he understands the aesthetic concern associated with Red Rock Crossing, which is why the district?s study — published in April 2006 — addressed a route that wouldn?t affect this area.

?It addresses the issue of putting a bridge right in front of Red Rock Crossing as we know it,? Shobert said.

This route would connect Verde Valley School Road from the Village of Oak Creek and Chavez Ranch Road southwest of Sedona, putting a bridge northeast of Red Rock Crossing.

The SFD has been identified as a stakeholder by the city.

According to Shobert, the district?s interest in an alternate route stems from striving to better serve the residents of Greater Sedona.

?From my vantage point, we could better serve our community if we had a way to get across the creek in that

vicinity,? Shobert said.

Shobert is also concerned that the incorporation of roundabouts in the Hwy. 179 project will drastically slow the district?s response times. Eight to 32 seconds is lost per

roundabout, Shobert said.

The SFD study, conducted by Southwestern Environmental Consultants, of Sedona, identified three possible routes that would meet the district?s needs.

These include the route previously mentioned and two that would put a bridge in view of visitors to Red Rock Crossing.

If an alternate route isn?t eventually constructed, the district will have to address growing demand somehow, Shobert said, which could entail construction of one to two additional fire stations.

Shobert thinks there are efforts being made to form partnerships to change the mindset about the issue.

He said the district has established this with the city and also has a good working relationship with the U.S. Forest Service.

The county, Shobert said, has listened to the district?s concern, but he agrees that their position is based on funding issues.

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