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Thu, Dec. 05

Transportation plan adds, drops projects

PRESCOTT - While about 20 new road projects have made it into the draft of an updated regional transportation plan, some of the largest long-term road plans have been dropped.

Chris Bridges, administrator of the Central Yavapai Metropolitan Planning Organization (CYMPO), said lower population projections led to the elimination of three major road plans - at least for now.

Plans for the Fain Road-to-Highway-169 connector, the Chino Valley extension, and much of the northern portion of Great Western Drive will not appear in the draft for the 2040 Regional Transportation Plan, Bridges said.

The public will get a look at the draft during a second round of meetings on Monday, Sept. 29, from 1 to 3 p.m., and from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., both at Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St.

"We've talked about population projections being much lower," Bridges said.

The 2006 Regional Transportation plan, for instance, projected that the CYMPO area (including Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley, Dewey-Humboldt, and unincorporated Yavapai County) would grow from about 118,000 to more than 400,000 by 2030.

The 2011 interim regional plan, which was conducted in the midst of the recession, cut the earlier population projection in half - to about 200,000 people by 2030.

Bridges said the 2040 plan that has been under way since earlier this year would include projections similar to those in the 2011 plan.

He pointed out that all of the local governments have updated their general plans since the completion of the 2011 transportation plan. Some of the massive new developments that the communities had anticipated would be built on undeveloped land are no longer included in the general plans, Bridges said, which has led to a decrease in population projections.

To help project the region's immediate and future transportation needs, the planning process also uses census data and real traffic data to run various transportation scenario models.

Without the expected population increases, Bridges said, several of the large, long-term road projects are no longer deemed necessary.

That, in turn, has caused planners to focus more on road improvements that will be more short-term, Bridges said. "We want to help the system we have today function longer and better," he said.

Among the largest remaining projects: the widening of both Highway 69 and a portion of Highway 89A to six lanes; an interchange at Highway 89A and Robert Road; and a widening of Highway 169 to four lanes.

CYMPO and the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) sought comments from the public this past April on land use and existing conditions. In next week's meetings, officials are asking for public comments on the draft updates for the horizon years of 2025 and 2040.

Brief presentations will take place at 1 p.m. and 5:30, Sept. 29, and the public will have a chance to ask questions and look at maps afterward.

"Officials will take public comments into consideration for the final report for the five-year update to the 2040 Regional Transportation Plan," stated a news release from CYMPO.

The regional transportation plans are updated about every five years, and Bridges said the planned road projects could change in the future, depending on future population trends.

He expects the CYMPO Executive Board to consider adopting the updated 2040 plan before the end of the year.

Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks.

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