Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Wed, Feb. 26

Column: No longer Blood Alley; call it Prescott Speedway

“Blood Alley,” as a nickname for Highway 69, seemed a bit harsh to me when I first moved to Prescott in 1996.

I soon learned why it was appropriate.

Crashes were commonplace along the two-mile stretch between Prescott and Prescott Valley.

One of the worst I remember involved teenagers joyriding from the mall back to Prescott Valley. Apparently at least one of them chose to ride in the trunk, which was hit in the crash that also was head-on.

Other fatals — a lot of them — involved head-on and T-bone incidents where people were turning onto the highway from the roads blind to traffic.

It was always tragic.

I also recall when the proposal came up for the raised, concrete medians. Until they were complete in 2011 regular Jersey barriers were set in place. Like those, the barriers — in their current form — suffered many scrapes, especially tire marks.

Yet, like the oh-so-popular roundabouts that are becoming all-too common in this area, crashes have now been limited to glancing blows, rear-enders (wouldn’t do much for the kid in the trunk though), and mishaps and smashups off the side of the roadway.

An improvement? Yes, in fact, the head-on casualties have dropped to zero, which we told you about in an article earlier this week.

Nada. Zilch. Nichts.

Unfortunately, injuries remain. An example of that came on Christmas Day several years ago. I was on call and on the way to our Christmas celebration at the in-laws that morning. I diverted — with my wife and daughter in tow — to cover a westbound rollover just beyond Home Depot in Prescott Valley.

Blood? I am sure it continues to be spilled. However, the nearly 90 deaths from automobile crashes are thankfully a thing of the past.

Since 2011 the most common complaint about this stretch of Highway 69 has been about the speed limit. It often seems to be Prescott Speedway, with drivers going as fast as they can, even though authorities dropped its speed limit to 45 mph, from 55 and 65 before that.

“The barrier has had a significant effect on serious injury and fatal traffic collisions in the area,” Department of Public Safety Capt. G.R. Manera said, though “there are still a number of minor injury and non-injury collisions in the area due to the large amount of traffic between Prescott and Prescott Valley.”

Those minor injury and non-injury collisions can be attributed mostly to two things: failure to pay attention and speeding.

Officials with the Arizona Department of Transportation admitted to the Courier several times over the years Highway (State Route) 69 was “poorly designed.”

I’d say it has been “fixed,” and thankfully “Blood Alley” as a name is something for the history books.

Side note — When driving on a roadway that has a median, you do not have to — nor should you — slow down and pull to the shoulder for a fire truck, ambulance or law enforcement going the OTHER way. The median — raised or lower — makes that unnecessary (and, I’d say, unsafe).

Know the laws, folks, so you don’t cause an accident trying to do the right thing.

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