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Willow Creek realignment to begin by Thanksgiving

Courtesy map<br>The yellow line denotes the realigned Willow Creek Road.

Courtesy map<br>The yellow line denotes the realigned Willow Creek Road.

PRESCOTT - The "second piece of the puzzle" in the ongoing efforts to improve traffic in the Highway 89/Willow Creek Road area should get underway by late November.

By a 6-0 vote Tuesday, Oct. 27, the Prescott City Council approved a $5 million contract with Fann Contracting, Inc., for the Willow Creek realignment project - a massive reworking of the intersection that has been in the works for years.

The new, realigned stretch of road will run north of the current Pioneer Parkway/Willow Creek Road intersection, and connect to Highway 89 at the Deep Well Ranch Road roundabout. City officials have long maintained that a realignment is necessary - in part, to deal with the current skewed configuration of the Willow Creek/Highway 89 intersection.

In addition, they say the 1.6-mile new road segment will serve as a north-south alternate route during the upcoming widening of Highway 89 near the Prescott Airport, which the Arizona State Department of Transportation (ADOT) plans to begin in fiscal year 2017.

"This is the second piece of the puzzle for the Highway 89 widening project," Prescott Public Works Development Manager Steve Orosz told City Council members this week. He noted that the first piece of the project ended recently, with ADOT's completion of the Highway 89 widening between Chino Valley and Deep Well Ranch Road.

The coming third phase will continue the Highway 89 widening on from Deep Well Ranch Road to just south of the Highway 89A interchange. During that construction, officials say, the Willow Creek Road realignment - which is expected to be complete by October 2016 - will take pressure off of Highway 89.

"The realigned Willow Creek Road will provide a construction traffic detour/buffer for the ADOT project, and improve traffic flow into and out of the city," a city memo states.

Yavapai County Board of Supervisors Chairman Craig Brown, who attended this week's Prescott City Council meeting, maintained that the realignment project is essential in the plan to widen the busy southern stretch of Highway 89. "Without this Willow Creek realignment, there is no 89-south project," Brown told the Prescott Council members.

Mayor Marlin Kuykendall agreed, noting that "the southbound traffic would be almost impossible" without the Willow Creek realignment.

After the Highway 89-south project was removed from ADOT's work program in early 2013, Yavapai County and the City of Prescott worked together to get the project back - entering into a city/county agreement in November 2013 to split the cost of the Willow Creek realignment project, which was estimated at about $6 million at the time.

Then, in the summer of 2014, local officials credited the regional cooperation for helping to convince the Arizona State Transportation Board to allocate $15 million for the widening of the southern one-mile section of Highway 89 between Chino Valley and Prescott.

At $5,047,653, the bid from Fann Contracting was the lowest of four that the city received for the realignment project. The three other bids ranged from $5.1 million to $5.9 million. Noting that the engineer's estimate was $6.2 million, Orosz told the council that Public Works officials had discussed the bid with Fann, and had "deemed that the bid was responsive and balanced."

The construction contract includes grading of new right-of-way, drainage facilities, construction of the new road, and about 7,500 lineal feet of 12-inch diameter waterline from the intersection of Willow Creek Road/Pioneer Parkway to the existing main at the intersection of McCurdy Drive/Clubhouse Drive/Highway 89.

Although the project is designed as a two-lane collector with paved shoulders (no sidewalks or bike lanes), Orosz said the right-of-way is wide enough for four travel lanes, an off-road path for bikes, and sidewalks. He said the additional features could be added in the future, as development occurs.

Councilman Charlie Arnold declared a conflict of interest, and did not participate in the discussion or vote on the construction contract.

Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks. Reach her at 928-445-3333 ext. 2034, or 928-642-0951.

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