Originally Published: July 13, 2009 11:24 p.m.
PRESCOTT - A new countywide program could bring fame and recognition to some scenic and historic roads in Yavapai County.
In April, the Board of Supervisors approved the county Scenic/Historic Route Program, and the advisory committee is reviewing the county's first road nomination.
"This is essentially a grass-roots program modeled after the state's scenic and historic roads program," said Chris Bridges, county transportation planner.
The Arizona Department of Transportation manages the state program. So far, it has designated only state and federal roads and no county owned roads, Bridges said.
"This (county program) started with Cornville applying to the state for scenic and historic designation for Page Springs Road," Bridges said. "The Cornville Historical Society spent two years researching and putting together its application packet."
In June 2008, the Arizona Parkways, Historic and Scenic Roads Advisory Committee rejected the application.
"They were comparing Page Springs to Route 66 and the Apache Trail," Bridges said. "It's a beautiful and historic road but it doesn't compare to Route 66."
The Cornville Community Association turned to the county for help. The CCA nominated five miles of Page Springs Road and sent the scenic advisory committee its packet of supporting documents, photographs and testimonials about the road.
Any group or individual can nominate a route. A nomination packet includes inventories of a route's natural, cultural and visual resources. It also includes information about the route's historical influence on its surroundings including architecture and archaeological sites.
Three county residents - one from each supervisor's district - and two county Public Works employees comprise the program's advisory committee.
The advisory committee scores the route based on seven criteria, and the Board of Supervisors decides whether to designate it as scenic or historical.
Committee members evaluate the route for its: cultural heritage; historical contribution to the area; proximity to historical sites; uniqueness of the route; vividness of the scenery; condition of the route; and unity of the route to the surrounding countryside.
However, only county owned and maintained roads in the unincorporated areas of the county are eligible for nomination, Bridges said. Roads can be paved or unpaved, such as the Crown King Road, and the county maintains ownership of designated roads.
Public Works will install signs identifying a route as scenic or historic.
"What we think it will do is inspire some pride in the residents that live along the road and bring some attention to the area," Bridges said. He added that a future website will link the road program to other websites such as historical societies and the centennial committee.
A scenic or historical designation does not protect a road from the county's "installation of safety improvements, and/or increase the capacity of the roadway in order to preserve the public health, safety, and welfare."
For example, if someone nominates Williamson Valley Road and the Board of Supervisors approves its designation, it would not stop the widening project, Bridges said.
"When the Cornville group started getting their information together, they said that they learned things about their history that they didn't even know," Bridges said.
The complete text of the Yavapai County Scenic/Historic Route Program may be read and downloaded on the county's website homepage or on the Public Works homepage at www.co.yavapai.az.us.