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Tue, Oct. 22

Norris: Community discussion needed on widening of Highway 69

I started following the stories about the proposed widening of Highway 69, roughly between Frontier Village and Prescott Lakes Parkway, as they were printed in The Daily Courier. The Sept. 22 front page story by Cindy Barks was very welcome. There needs to be some community discussion about this project.

As an avid hiker, I am aware that the Circle Trail passes through one of the three existing box culverts that drain water underneath the roadway. “Great!” I thought, “This project will provide an opportunity to enlarge and renovate the trail culvert which is long, dark, dank, and muddy or icy, in season. Decaying deer carcasses, thrown from the roadway, can be seen and smelled! Who could oppose this? Equestrians, cyclists, hikers and wildlife will all benefit, as will motorists who will have a lower risk of collisions with deer.”

This community has come together in a strong effort to save as much of the Granite Dells as possible, an effort that is still ongoing. Preserving wildlife habitat and connectivity are major factors in that effort. This area provides significant wildlife connectivity from wild lands south of the area (primarily Prescott National Forest) to the north, toward Watson and Willow Lakes, and the Granite Dells, and further north to the outflows of Granite Creek.

Yes, an upgraded culvert that makes provisions for all users will cost more than some hasty repairs and fencing. I believe that additional funds can be found to augment ADOT’s budget for this project. ADOT should proceed with the design phase, including a properly designed larger culvert, and allow time for supporters to locate and apply for such funding from other sources such as the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Habitat Partnership Committee, the Mule Deer Foundation, and the Arizona Parks Recreational Trail Program and more.

I don’t expect ADOT to take the big picture here; that is not their mission. However, I do expect the elected officials that serve on CYMPO to not only see the big picture, but advocate for it as well.

If each of these entities contributed, the needed funding might be found. Let’s come together to make sure that we ensure public safety, preserve as much wildlife connectivity as we can, and keep the Circle Trail as one of the premier assets of the area. We only have this one chance to do it right.

Please go to https://www.cympo.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/H8739-SR-69-Final-Feas-Rpt-REV-Dec-2015.pdf to read the full report.

Contact your County Supervisors and City Council Members to let them know of your concerns.

Ruth Anne Norris has lived in Prescott since 2007. She hikes at least three times a week enjoying the many trails in the area. She serves on the Boards of the Prescott Art Docents and the Granite Dells Preservation Foundation.

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