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Sat, Dec. 14

County considers Road 1 North traffic light by 2018
CYMPO may change priorities because of 31 crashes in five years

Chino Valley police and fire fighters work the scene of a two-vehicle collision near the intersection of Highway 89 and Road 1 North on Jan. 26, the most recent of 31 crashes there in the past five years. (Matt Hinshaw/PNI)

Chino Valley police and fire fighters work the scene of a two-vehicle collision near the intersection of Highway 89 and Road 1 North on Jan. 26, the most recent of 31 crashes there in the past five years. (Matt Hinshaw/PNI)

A shuffling of local transportation priorities could result in having a traffic signal installed at Highway 89 and Road 1 North in Chino Valley as early as spring 2018.

But such a move likely would push off a widening project planned for the mile-long stretch of Highway 69 between the Prescott Gateway Mall and the Yavpe Connector.

The Central Yavapai Metropolitan Planning Organization (CYMPO) discussed the possibility last week of swapping the two projects in a complex maneuver that would involve borrowing federal transportation money in the coming fiscal year (2017) in order to get the Road 1 North signal complete sooner.

The regional transportation-planning group, which is made up of representatives from area communities, Yavapai County and the Arizona Department of Transportation, heard a report from CYMPO Administrator Chris Bridges Wednesday, Feb. 17, about options for getting the Road 1 North project done sooner.

Currently, the signal project is in the organization's schedule for 2022. Bridges explained that the Road 1 North signal had been bumped previously, after more CYMPO money was needed for the Perkinsville Road roundabout, which is being built along Highway 89 in Chino Valley.

However, a Jan. 26 two-car collision near the Road 1 North intersection that resulted in serious injuries renewed discussion about the need for a signal at the busy corner.

Michael Lopez, acting public works director for the Town of Chino Valley, told the CYMPO board this week that the intersection has been the site of 31 total reported accidents in the past five years - 11 of which involved injuries.

The traffic signal would improve safety not just for the residents of Chino Valley, Lopez said, but for the many drivers who travel through Chino Valley from the region as well.

CYMPO members appeared supportive of a swap that would get the project done sooner, although a vote has yet to be taken.

Bridges explained that he had discussed the possibility of borrowing $700,000 in federal Surface Transportation Funds from the Northern Arizona Council of Governments (NACOG), and then paying it back in 2019 with CYMPO money that currently is earmarked for the Highway 69 widening.

NACOG occasionally has federal money available for such a loan, Bridges said, when another of its programmed projects "looks like it's not going to be delivered."

Rather than losing that federal money, the northern-Arizona organization often agrees to a temporary swap, Bridges said.

The Road 1 North traffic signal is estimated at $1 million, and Bridges said the remaining $300,000 of the cost could be provided by the Town of Chino Valley, ADOT, and Yavapai County - depending on the approval of those governments.

The relatively low cost of the signal project, as compared with the $10 million Highway 69 widening, apparently is working in its favor.

"The funding (for the Highway 69 widening) in '19 probably isn't going to accomplish anything," ADOT District Engineer Alvin Stump told the CYMPO members.

But, of the Chino Valley traffic signal, he said, "This a project we can get done."

After the meeting, Stump pointed out that that CYMPO annually has about $650,000 available in federal money.

"That's a $10 million project," he said of the Highway 69 widening, adding that "Right now, it's not likely" that ADOT would have the money available to cover the remaining costs for the widening.

Rather, he said ADOT would be putting more of its focus on improving Interstate 17, and on widening Highway 89A.

"That's where the growth is," Stump said of Highway 89A.

Bridges pointed out that daily traffic on Highway 89A has grown dramatically recently, while traffic on Highway 69 is remaining about the same.

To plan for the possible widening of Highway 89A from its current four lanes to six lanes, Stump said he plans to propose a preliminary planning study on the highway.

If the CYMPO board does agree to move the Chino Valley signal ahead in the schedule, Bridges said, the Highway 69 widening would be pushed out at least one year. (The widening was earlier identified as a safety priority because of the bottleneck that occurs as the highway transitions from a six-lane section to a four-lane section, and back again.)

The shift in priorities is expected to be back on the CYMPO Executive Board agenda for a possible vote on March 16.

Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter: @Cindy_Barks. Reach her at 928-642-0951.

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