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Wed, Oct. 16

ADOT to use tribe's proposed connector to halt dangerous turns

PRESCOTT — For the Arizona Department of Transportation, creating a safe way to get drivers from southbound Highway 89 to eastbound Highway 69 has been a major struggle.

In the years of planning the new 69/89 interchange, this turning movement has been the sticking point. Often ADOT officials have wished they could eliminate left turns through the convoluted road connection.

Now, it appears they've succeeded. And ADOT's partners on the job will be the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe and Yavapai County.

The three agencies have made a number of presentations on the proposed connector road over the past month, most recently at this past week's Board of Supervisors meeting.

Kevin Howell, engineer for Kirkham Michael, the Prescott firm designing the connector; Chris Moss, tribal planner; and Tom Foster, ADOT Prescott District engineer, explained how the traffic flow would work.

Foster said people need to think of the entire area as a large intersection, and the connector — about one mile north of the 69/89 interchange — as just a piece of it.

ADOT already has a completed design concept report and environmental assessment for the Highway 69/89 interchange with the left turn in it.

Foster said if the agencies can sign agreements for this connector project, ADOT will remove that leg — the most dangerous one — from the plan.

"Instead of them building their road and not worrying about what we're doing, we've had their engineers look at our intersection, to make it work together," Foster said.

The plan is to build a connector road from Highway 69 to 89, just north of the existing Sundog Ranch Road.

The road will include a new, wider bridge that will replace the Sundog bridge.

Access to the industrial area will come from this road or off Prescott Lakes Parkway, one mile north.

On the other end, the new connector will tie in at the Target intersection, providing another route to get to Frontier Village, and to the planned Frontier Village North commercial area.

Drivers coming south on Highway 89 who wish to turn east onto Highway 69 would instead turn at the connector and end up at Target. They could then either turn left toward Prescott Valley, or turn right to get to destinations near the Prescott Resort.

The county still is working on its Hillcrest Road and Heather Heights routes with the tribe.

In addition, Prescott and Yavapai College play into the total realignment, since the road plan will line Rush Street up with the college entrance.

The county is committing about $1 million in half-cent sales tax money into the connector road.

Board Chairman Gheral Brownlow said the county should help with the project. It receives sales tax money — including half-cent sales tax revenue — from reservation sales.

"As of now, we've done nothing to enhance roads to this area," he said.

The entire interchange area should cost about $30 million to $32 million to build, with about $15 million to $20 million specifically for the 69/89 intersection and $7.5 million for the new connector.

Howell said the plans will be ready next spring.

Moss said the tribe had hoped to start construction about this time next year. But it has run into some Corps of Engineers' issues with the Sundog bridge.

Foster said the original ADOT plan was to build the interchange in 2003. However, the financing for the interchange, about $15 million, is in fiscal 2004, and that may not be enough money.

In addition, to get the construction work off the ground in 2003, the engineering design work should be under way right now, Foster said.

Contact Gail Kenny at gkenny@prescottaz.com

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