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Thu, Dec. 12

City, county plan $6 million Willow Creek realignment

PRESCOTT - In an effort to save a section of the planned Highway 89 widening project, the City of Prescott and Yavapai County appear poised to commit to spending $6 million on the related Willow Creek Road realignment.

The Prescott City Council will consider the matter at its regular voting meeting at 3 p.m. Tuesday, at Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St.

Up for consideration will be a joint letter from the city and county to the Arizona State Transportation Board in support of the Highway 89 widening from Highway 89A to the Deep Well Ranch Road, and a separate letter that would be exclusively from the City Council.

The joint city/county letter states that the local governments are willing to partner with the state in an effort to facilitate the Highway 89 widening.

The city letter adds that if the widening project on the section from Deep Well to Highway 89A is deferred - as the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is suggesting - "the public will be faced with a two-lane bottleneck in an area already developed and continuing to experience further growth adjacent to the Prescott Municipal Airport."

In February, ADOT announced that its latest tentative five-year program no longer included the widening project nearest to Prescott, although the program still included the section from the southern boundary of Chino Valley to the Deep Well Ranch Road.

If the State Transportation Board approves the five-year program as proposed, the southern section would not occur until sometime after 2018. That would be a change from the previous plan that had construction on the northern section getting under way later this year, and the southern section occurring in 2016.

Complicating the southern section has been the related realignment of Willow Creek Road as it approaches the Highway 89 intersection. For several years, officials have been trying to work out the realignment plan.

Central Yavapai Metropolitan Planning Organization (CYMPO) Administrator Chris Bridges said the discussions accelerated in recent months. "When it really got traction was when the ADOT five-year plan came out," he said.

A city memo states that Prescott and Yavapai County are proposing contributions of $3 million each to the Willow Creek realignment.

Prescott Engineering Services Director Mark Nietupski said the realignment would reroute Willow Creek Road north of the Pioneer Parkway intersection, connecting with the Deep Well Ranch Road intersection, which is just north of the Ruger Road/Highway 89 intersection.

The realignment would amount to about 8,000 feet of new roadway, and would run roughly parallel to Highway 89. The plan would retain the existing traffic signal at Highway 89/MacCurdy Drive.

The city's share of the contribution would come from its 1-percent sales tax for open space/streets.

Nietupski said the city had earlier budgeted about $1.76 million for the Deep Well roundabout and a connecting road. But when CYMPO subsequently earmarked a portion of its federal money toward that project, the city money was freed up. Nietupski said that unused money would make up the bulk of the city's contribution for the Willow Creek Road realignment.

If the city approves the joint letter this week, Bridges said the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors would consider it on May 6. He then plans to present the commitment letters at the State Transportation Board's May 10 meeting, in advance of the board's June 14 decision on the five-year program.

Inter-governmental agreements would come later to finalize the details, Nietupski said.

Along with the city/county money, CYMPO is also putting about $1.27 million toward the realignment.

In other action, the council will:

• Consider a $2.1 million pavement rehabilitation contract with Asphalt Paving & Supply.

• Consider accepting a $50,000 grant from the University of Illinois, Center for Public Safety and Justice, for a pilot program dealing with Alzheimer's patients.

• Consider an inter-governmental agreement with the Town of Chino Valley for prosecution services.

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