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City of Sedona Works to Reduce Traffic Impacts, Some Businesses Worry About the Tourism Impacts

SEDONA, Ariz. (3TV/CBS 5) – Highway 89 north of Uptown Sedona is closed this week while ADOT works on rock fall prevention. This isn’t the only contribution happening in the red rock city. This week, the city started construction on the Uptown Roadway Improvement project, which aims to reduce traffic at one of the busier intersections, Highway 89a and Forest Road.

Anna Lee Hammon has lived and worked in Sedona for 23 years and witnessed its transformation. “20 some years ago it was kind of a sleepy cowboy town it was very art and things like that as social media have started, the words out,” she said. That sleepy cowboy town is long gone. With more than 3 million annual visitors, Sedona has become a bustling tourist town attracting people worldwide for its Instagram-worthy scenery.

With tourism comes traffic, and Hammon said the intersection near her shop where the project is taking place is one of the spots where traffic bottlenecks occur the most. “This intersection is probably one of the worst.” Hammon said. “It’s just gotten worse and worse and worse.”

This city’s construction plan should help with this traffic by doing the following and more:

  • An additional northbound lane will be added between L’Auberge Lane and Forest Road.
  • Removing and replacing the existing curb and gutter along the east side of SR 89A (between L’Auberge Lane and Forest Road).
  • A permanent barrier for the left turn lane onto Forest Road is being constructed.
  • Converting the sidewalk along SR 89A into a new shared-use pathway that will be separated from the highway.
  • Removing parking spaces along the northbound lane of SR 89A (between Forest Road and the Jordan Road Roundabout).

However, not everyone is happy with this work. Tom Huthwaite oversees multiple businesses in the Uptown area. He said he’s worried about what construction will do for the already lower winter tourism. He also said there is already a limited parking situation, and this would make it worse.

His worries are not unfounded if tourists have difficulty getting to them. Sedona’s economy depends on visitors, fueling tens of thousands of jobs and bringing in more than a billion dollars annually.

The city is looking to build a parking garage up the street from the uptown project, but construction has not yet begun.

Hammon said she’s seen plenty of construction before and believes the businesses will get through this one, too. “This isn’t my first rodeo with the road construction,” she said. “You know, having done this for more than 20 years, this is probably the 4th large reconstruction project in front of my store all those years. We’ll get through it. It’s hard, but in the end it’s going to be great.”

Source: Arizona’s Family