Originally Published: August 15, 2018 9:53 p.m.
The number of roundabout intersections on Highway 89 is on the rise once again.
Within the year, a new roundabout will be in place on the highway just north of the similar intersection completed recently in front of the Phippen Museum, and south of the one installed at Deep Well Ranch Road several years ago.
Work got underway in mid-June on the Arizona Department of Transportation’s (ADOT) latest Highway 89 widening project, which takes in about a mile –—roughly from Deep Well Ranch Road to just south of the 89/89A interchange.
The $10.3 million project is scheduled to be completed by August 2019, said ADOT District Engineer Alvin Stump.
Central to the project will be a new roundabout intersection at Perkins Drive, with the entrance to the city’s Antelope Hills Golf Course as the eastern leg, and the new James Lane as the western leg.
Stump noted that the James Lane section will tie in with the city’s recently relocated stretch of north Willow Creek Road.
Short-term plans call for a simple stop-signed intersection at James Lane and Willow Creek Road, Prescott Public Works Director Craig Dotseth said.
In the future, though, the northern stretch of Willow Creek Road is planned to be widened to a four-lane divided road – a move that Dotseth said would include some type of intersection improvement at James Lane.
Although another roundabout is currently not being contemplated at James Lane/Willow Creek Road, Dotseth said, “The development in the area will dictate” the type of intersection constructed there.
The northern section of Willow Creek Road already carries significant traffic. While traffic counts were not available for the portion of the road at James Lane, Dotseth said an average of 27,000 vehicles per day use Willow Creek Road at its intersection with Willow Lake Road.
Those numbers are expected to increase in coming months, as many drivers likely will opt to take Willow Creek Road rather than Highway 89 through the ongoing construction.
“As the ADOT project continues, it will create detour traffic,” Dotseth said, adding that the Willow Creek Road relocation was planned to be complete before the start of the Highway 89 widening, with the detour option in mind.
FINAL STRETCH OF WIDENING
ADOT’s current project comes as the latest in a series of widening efforts in the Highway 89 area.
In 2014 and 2015, ADOT completed a $17.4 million widening of the highway between Chino Valley and the Deep Well Ranch Road intersection. That project included two new roundabouts — the one at Deep Well Ranch Road, and another at Kalinich, closer to Chino Valley.
Then in 2016, the City of Prescott and Yavapai County completed the $5.6 million realignment of Willow Creek Road, which ties in with Highway 89.
And earlier this summer, the city substantially completed its $5.1 million Highway 89 widening from just south of Highway 89A to just south of the Phippen Museum — a project that included the Phippen Roundabout.
This week, Dotseth said a few minor “punch-list” tasks remain in the project, along with landscaping work in the roundabout.
Meanwhile, ADOT’s widening project to the north also is progressing.
Much of the work in the first two months has focused on building new southbound lanes on the west side of the highway. Throughout much of the summer, crews with contractor Asphalt Paving & Supply have been building the base for the new lanes.
When those lanes are complete later this year, Stump said highway traffic would be moved to the new lanes, while improvements get underway on the old lanes. He expects traffic to be moved from the old highway section to the new lanes in late December.
Initially, the switchover should have minimal impacts on traffic, Stump said.
“The number of lanes will be the same as they are now,” he said.
Traffic impacts will be greater when work begins at the 89A interchange after the new year. The number of lanes at the interchange will be reduced to one in each direction at that time, Stump said, which will result in more delays.
Ultimately, the project will include a lane improvement at the 89/89A interchange.
“The second southbound left-turn lane will be lengthened to extend all the way between the two signals,” Stump said.
With the completion of the widening, Highway 89 will consist of four lanes all the way from Chino Valley to south of the Phippen Museum.