By Blake Herzog
The City of Prescott is seeking public input on a proposal to widen the two miles of AZ-89 between the roundabouts at the Phippen Museum and Willow Lake Road from one to two lanes in each direction.
The installation of a larger sewer line underneath that section of road is projected to begin next fall, for which the road’s entire surface will need to be removed and replaced. The City’s Capital Improvement Plan says this is necessary to serve the community on the north side and continue the process of routing wastewater from throughout the City to the Airport Water Reclamation Facility, after which the Sundog wastewater plant could be taken offline.
The question is what will happen after the sewer line is installed.
This section was built through the cliffs and boulders of the Granite Dells in the late 1950s after The City of Prescott is seeking public input on a proposal to widen the 2 miles of AZ-89 between some sections of rock were blasted away. In the years since, it’s been widened to four lanes to the south and north, causing what some describe as traffic bottlenecks through the Dells.
Additional rock would have to be taken out. A geological engineer, Robert A. Cummings, who has used natural rock fracturing to accomplish this in other projects, has made a presentation to the City Council about the technique, which he says will minimize disturbance and result in a more natural appearance.
“It’s not just about how many lanes we have, it’s also about what other things people want to have access to,” City Manager Katie Gregory said. “Do we want bike lanes in that area? Does it make sense to have roundabouts in that area or would they take up too much real estate? That also impacts which directions drivers will be able to turn. We’re trying
to understand what the preferences of the community are.”
The idea has met opposition from residents who want to retain the natural and historic character of this unique section of the highway and say the current volume of cars doesn’t warrant the widening.
The public comment period for the project runs through Dec. 15 and includes public meetings and a website with a “virtual meeting room” with information, videos and a survey. For more information go to