Originally Published: May 23, 2009 8:49 p.m.
The Peavine Trail is the city's longest and most important trail.
It's a very popular trail, with 36,000 users per year - about the population of Prescott.
The trail goes along the shoreline of Watson Lake and through the very scenic Granite Dells.
When you use it, you are reliving history. Its route follows the 1893 train tracks from Ash Fork to Prescott, which continued to Phoenix two years later. The name Peavine comes from the way the railroad wound its tortuous way through the hills north of Paulden and south of Prescott. The Peavine is a National Recreation Trail and is in the state trail system.
Currently, it starts at the Sun Dog Ranch trailhead and travels north for 5 miles to its temporary end at Highway 89A. Plans are to continue it farther, meeting the Chino Valley segment of the Peavine, north of the airport. It already ties in with the Iron King Trail, another old railroad route, connecting to Prescott Valley.
Once the northern link is complete, it will provide a bicycle commuter path between these three communities - a great way for people to get to work and keep fit.
Today, it's a very safe trail for children and for horses. That won't be true tomorrow if the city council allows construction of roads carrying commercial traffic across this major trail at "grade level." This would be equivalent to putting a pedestrian crosswalk across multiple lanes of traffic, like across Sixth Street or Commerce Drive - except this isn't in the center of town but on a stretch of pristine trail. Heavy trucks and kids on bikes don't mix!
In the recent past, the council and staff have been too eager to appease the demands of developers, tasting additional tax revenues. In their haste, they essentially have ignored the impact on the Peavine.
This is changing, but some powers in the city still require an impetus from the public so that future development agreements consider the wider needs of the community.
The city is planning a commercial road, Centerpointe East Drive, to link from the new Side Road Interchange on 89A to developments on the west side of the Peavine, south of 89A. We need a bridge where this road crosses the Peavine to separate trail users from dangerous traffic. Currently, the city is reluctant to pay for this bridge, instead proposing an "at-grade" crossing.
One lawsuit over the death or maiming of a child or equestrian would wipe out any savings from such a crossing.
The city already is already saving $5 million from the original engineer's estimate for the Side Road Interchange. Using a quarter million of this money for the Peavine overpass would be an investment in the future. Money that tourists visiting Prescott spend to enjoy the area's excellent trails will swell city coffers, so protect, don't destroy.
Trail traffic on this stretch of the Peavine soon will increase considerably because the developer Cavan is generously providing a trailhead with good parking just south of 89A.
Current residents in this growing area of the city, and new residents from nearby planned housing developments (including Fann's), will make much use of this great trail.
Fann and Cavan each have a small parcel of commercial land on the west side of the trail near 89A, as well as much bigger parcels to the east. They both are asking for road crossings "at-grade."
Developers make good profits from their developments. The more farsighted ones consider helping their future residents and the community.
The Peavine is a unique trail. Once new grade-level road crossings ruin it, current and future generations will lose this gem of a trail, which is an asset to the community.
Say "no" to any "at-grade" crossing of commercial roads across the Peavine, whether the city or a developer builds them.
Please contact the city council with your views (e-mail to Patti.Crouse@cityofprescott.net) or, better yet, attend the council workshop at 1 p.m. on Tuesday in Council Chambers at City Hall. Your voice and presence count!
Nigel Reynolds is a lifelong outdoor enthusiast who enjoys exploring, hiking and mountain biking. He has served on the Yavapai Trails Association board since 2002.