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Sun, June 16

Work on tribe's highway 69-89 connector near

PRESCOTT – Another road that would connect the commercial area of Highway 69 to Highway 89 could get under way sometime within the next year or so.

The Prescott City Council heard a report Tuesday from the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) and the Yavapai Prescott Tribe about the plans for a new 69/89 connector road that would run approximately parallel to the one the city is currently working on.

The new road, which would traverse the Yavapai Prescott Indian Reservation, would connect the Frontier Village area on Highway 69 with the industrial area near Sundog Ranch Road.

Kevin Howell with the Kirkham Michael engineering firm pointed out that the new connector would be about one mile southwest of the connector that the city is currently working on.

The new connector will begin at about Frontier Village on Highway 69 and connect on Highway 89 just south of Industrial Way. It will require a new bridge over Granite Creek.

Howell said engineers decided not to use the existing bridge on Sundog Ranch Road, because that approach to Highway 89 would not allow for a four-way intersection. "The Sundog bridge runs into a rock cliff, and it would be a T-intersection," Howell said.

The alignment will cause the removal of some of the businesses along Sundog Ranch Road, Howell said. "It will be impacting the existing buildings, and they'll have to be removed," he said.

The plans for the new road should be complete by about February 2002, Howell said. Construction could begin anytime after that, he added.

Tom Foster, district engineer for ADOT, pointed out that the state, the tribe, and Yavapai County have been working together on the plans for the connector for about three years.

"The tribe has hired its own engineer, and we worked on how to fit their roadways into the rest of the system," Foster said.

He emphasized that the new connector will be part of ADOT's plans for the reworking of the 69/89 interchange.

"We look at this as one big interchange," Foster said. He pointed out, for instance, that drivers wishing to turn left from Highway 89 onto Highway 69 will have to use the new connector, rather than the interchange closer to town. The connector "will be a spur of 89 or 69," Foster said.

Tribal Planner Chris Moss agreed. "You really need to look at this thing as a total system," he told the council.

The new connector will give drivers another option to the city's connector, which will run from Prescott Lakes Parkway to the new Prescott Gateway Mall. Foster pointed out that the tribe's connector will be less steep than the city's.

"The city's connector has grades of approximately 7 percent," Foster said. "That is kind of steep for trucks." On the other hand, the tribe's connector will have a top grade of about 5 percent, Foster said.

Howell said the new connector will open up land for development by the tribe. "The tribe is doing this for development of this land," he said. The route that the engineers chose offers the best development potential, he added.

Along with the connector plans, ADOT also plans a major overhaul of the 69/89 interchange, including the addition of a number of new lanes and a reconfiguration of traffic flows. Foster said ADOT has about $21 million in its 2004 budget for the reworking of the interchange.

Foster pointed out that the tribe's connector will have to occur sometime before that. "The tribe's leg of this has to go first or the rest of this isn't possible," he said.

Howell said the entire project, including the interchange work and the connector work, has an estimated cost of about $31 million.

Foster said ADOT decided to run the connector plans by the Prescott City Council before taking them to the Central Yavapai County Transportation Planning Organization.

The city allowed about an hour and a half for the discussion of the road plans, but it took less than a half-hour to complete. City officials had few comments or questions about the plans.

Contact Cindy Barks at cbarks@prescottaz.com

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