It’s true – a number of organizations and entities support the plan for the Northern Connector roadway along Center Street, Brenda Trail and Nancy Drive, that would link Highway 89 in Chino Valley and Williamson Valley Road. It’s also true that a majority of town and county residents in closer proximity to the road are strongly opposed to the roadway.
The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors unanimously accepted the final Design Concept Report at its Dec. 6 meeting after hearing members of the public offer their comments and concerns. Chair Tom Thurman explained why he seconded the motion to approve.
“The reasoning for that is because the taxpayer in Yavapai County spent a lot of money for this report. And even though it has possibly some flaws in it – they all do – I believe we have a duty to the taxpayer to at least put it on there. Any of these reports are not written in concrete, they can be adjusted. And as the population grows out there, they can be diverted to whatever needs (there are) at that time,” he said.
The need for a connector road isn’t expected until 2040, Public Works Director Byron Jaspers indicated in his memo to the board. Nor does he anticipate further action until such need arises.
“The project received support from the Town of Chino Valley, the Chino Valley School District, the Williamson Valley Community Organization, State Land Department, and fire and emergency medical services,” he added.
Supervisor Craig Brown stated that the project began in 2006 as something required for the Regional Transportation Plan. Consequently, the board approved Lyon Engineering to prepare the study. Even though there is no funding for the work at present, the item before the board whether to accept the report or not.
Two residents in the audience indicated their opposition, followed by David Benson, who asked the board to consider the fact that Central Yavapai Metropolitan Planning Organization (CYMPO) has stated there is no need for the connector roadway.
Thurman interrupted to say the board also understands the lack of need. “This is just purely planning. No planning is bad planning,” he said.
Benson pointed out the engineer’s finding that, assuming the current rate of population growth, the Outer Loop Road still is sufficient in 2040 even if the county doesn’t build any new roads. He also brought to the board and the engineers’ attention errors in the numbers of vehicles coming from Reed Road per day.
“They agreed there is no way that level of traffic could come into there or exit from there,” Benson said, adding that a project costing $13.8 million should not be based on incorrect information.
Resident Chris Frank brought up a less-than-standard line of sight concern at the intersection at Nancy and Williamson Valley roads that was not addressed in the report. He said the intersection could be fixed with a traffic light or by blasting the road. When Thurman offered “roundabout” as an option, Frank said that wouldn’t work for a crest intersection.
An intersection at Inscription Canyon, on the other hand, offers a shorter route, affects fewer private parcels, and needs fewer drainage structures, he said. The difference in rights-of-way acreage between the two proposed intersections involves only three acres, he added.
Carol Ross mentioned the benefit of having the connector roadway, and said, “Someday when there’s some money, I’d like to see this road built.”
The purpose of the study is to have a plan in place for future growth, transportation needs, emergency response, and access to commercial services surrounding the project area, Jasper’s memo stated. The report also included geotechnical research, archeological/biological assessment, drainage report, and coordination with the State Land Department and private property owners.
The report is available on the Yavapai County website at yavapai.us/.