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Thu, Dec. 12

Stopgap Regional Transportation Plan gets CYMPO OK

PRESCOTT - Ratcheting down from the boom days of the mid-2000s, the area's latest Regional Transportation Plan has cut back significantly - not only on population projections, but on road plans as well.

While the 2006 Regional Transportation Plan projected that the Prescott/Prescott Valley/Chino Valley area would grow from about 118,000 to more than 400,000 people by 2030, the updated plan has reduced the population projection for the same time period to about 200,000.

And when it comes to high-priority road projects, the new plan has trimmed accordingly.

Along with a host of urgent road-improvement projects, many of which were completed in the past six years, the 2006 plan also included a list of 14 longer-term improvements, through 2020.

In contrast, the new 2011 plan lists only two priorities for the next two years: the widening of Highway 89 between Prescott and Chino Valley; and a design concept report (30-percent design) for Great Western Boulevard (running from about the Prescott Valley water tanks on Highway 89A to Chino Valley's 5 Road South).

In a unanimous vote Wednesday night, the Central Yavapai Metropolitan Planning Organization (CYMPO) executive board approved the 2011 Regional Transportation Plan Update - a document that sets the course for regional road improvements until at least 2014.

While regional transportation plans normally last for about five years, CYMPO opted this past year to scale back its 2011 plan.

The resulting interim plan will allow for the completion of the individual general plans that are currently under way with most of CYMPO's participating governments.

Those general plans, in turn, will provide the updated land-use information that CYMPO needs to do a full regional plan, complete with transportation model.

CYMPO Administrator Chris Bridges says the next round of transportation planning would begin soon. "It has to happen within the next two years," he said, adding, "The next study will be much more detailed."

Patrizia Gonella, transportation planning manager with the Jacobs consulting firm, pointed out Wednesday that the CYMPO region had accomplished many of the high-priority projects from the 2006 plan.

For example, she mentioned the Highway 69/89 interchange overhaul; Highway 89A interchanges at Viewpoint Drive and Granite Dells Parkway; widening of Fain Road, which is under construction; and portions of the Williamson Valley Road widening.

The one exception: the widening of Highway 89 between Prescott and Chino Valley.

And when it comes to traffic congestion, Gonella said, "The one that's creating the most problems was the one project that wasn't done - Highway 89."

While the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has programmed the two phases of the Highway 89 widening between Prescott and Chino Valley, the construction is not expected to occur until 2014 and 2016.

With CYMPO's approval of the 2011 Regional Transportation Plan, Bridges said the document now goes on to ADOT and the Federal Highway Administration

Work on the plan, which included a series of public meetings, has been under way since early this year. CYMPO entered an $81,321 contract with Jacobs Engineering in late 2011 for the document update.

CYMPO is a regional transportation planning organization that includes participation by Yavapai County, Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley, Dewey-Humboldt, and ADOT.

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