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Sat, July 20

Truck delivery restrictions proposed to improve downtown traffic safety

PRESCOTT - Changes apparently are in store for truck deliveries on two busy downtown streets - a move that city officials say should enhance safety for pedestrians.

Although the Prescott City Council took no vote on the matter during Tuesday's caucus discussion, they voiced support for a proposal by the public works department to restrict on-street deliveries by trucks.

During previous discussions, council members had expressed concerns about the large beverage and food trucks that frequently park in the driving lanes on Whiskey Row.

Because the trucks often park near the mid-block crosswalks, city officials say they obscure the views of approaching drivers, leaving pedestrians in jeopardy.

At its May discussion on downtown issues, the council had asked for suggestions on how to deal with the pedestrian safety concerns, along with a number of other downtown problems.

In response, Engineering Services Director Mark Nietupski proposed that the city prohibit loading and unloading within 50 feet of the crosswalks on Whiskey Road (Montezuma Street) and Cortez Street.

"That distance is necessary when you consider that traffic is moving at 25 miles per hour," Nietupski said this week.

He suggested installing signs and street markings to alert truck drivers to the new restrictions. The changes should "improve visibility and en-hance safety," Nietupski added.

Although much of the previous discussion had focused on Whiskey Row, Nietupski said similar concerns exist on Cortez Street - between Willis and Gurley, and between Gurley and Goodwin.

Tommy Meredith, owner of the Jersey Lilly Saloon on Whiskey Row, said he foresees no resistance to the new restrictions.

"Most of the delivery guys know better than to park close to the crosswalks," Meredith said. "I don't think it's a problem."

With no objections coming up at the meeting, Nietupski said afterward that his department would move ahead with the traffic changes. He expected the signs and street striping to be in place by late July.

The council also heard suggestions for other traffic-flow concerns, such as the congestion that often occurs at Granite and Goodwin, near the entrance to the downtown-parking garage.

Because the intersection has no traffic signal, drivers heading from Granite onto Goodwin often have a difficult time turning left.

Noting that a traffic signal is "not warranted" at the intersection, Nietupski said another option would be for the city to station a police officer at the corner to direct traffic during special events.

But Councilman Jim Lamerson pointed out that the City Council has the authority to approve a traffic signal even if one is not warranted by traffic-safety standards.

City Manager Craig McConnell responded that, in some cases, "a set of eyes of an experienced police officer is going to be better. Sometimes the best way is not to have a signal."

Even so, Lamerson said traffic congestion regularly occurs at the intersection - even when there is no special event. "Every day, we have lunch hours," he said. "Sometimes, people are sitting there for five, six, eight minutes, and traffic just does not flow."

In other matters, the council also discussed methods for improving communications and dispersing tourist information on the downtown area.

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