VERDE VALLEY -- Motorists fuming in the one-hour-plus traffic jams between the Village of Oak Creek and West Sedona on State Route 179 probably wish they had more information before driving into that weekend traffic quagmire.
The Arizona Department of Transpiration listened and has now installed a “live-time” overhead message board near the Sunset Point rest area 54 miles away that alerts northbound drivers about traffic delays in Sedona.
The sign lets motorists know if it’s quicker to go directly to the Village of Oak Creek by SR179 and into Uptown Sedona, or bypass through Cottonwood through SR260 to SR89A. Depending on traffic, the time difference can be significant.
Now, some question if even more driver alert signs are needed.
“We intend to continue to lobby ADOT for a sign closer to SR 260,” Sedona Town Manager Justin Clifton said Tuesday. “By the time a driver travels between Sunset Point and SR 260, the travel time for each route may have changed significantly.
“This is not just so the information is fresh in the driver’s minds. It’s also imperative to ensure the information is accurate.”
“We are very happy that one has been installed,” said Jennifer Wesselhoff, president/CEO of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce. “An additional sign closer to the Camp Verde exit would also be extremely helpful.”
Right now, there are no plans to install any additional overhead message signs in that area, explained Ryan Harding, ADOT spokesman.
The message boards along northbound I-17 with travel times to Sedona are at Sunset Point and a second overhead message board has been installed at McGuireville right before SR 179 in the northbound lane on I17 also, he said. However, this is north of the Camp Verde exit and too late if motorists want to consider taking SR260 as a bypass.
One ADOT traffic camera in Sedona
Harding said ADOT has one traffic camera that is available through the az511.gov website to assist motorists with traffic information.
“When highway projects are approved, our Intelligent Transportation Systems group always takes a look to see if any new technology can be incorporated,” he said.
Wesselhoff said traffic cameras would be “very helpful. Using real-time information to help travelers make route decisions is an important tactic in our Sustainable Tourism Plan.”
Clifton agreed: “The city has also looked into installing more cameras.” He suggested motorists using apps on their smart phones to understand congestion and alternative routes that actually may be more useful than visual images.
“Our transportation plan does contemplate travel information signs like the ones ADOT is utilizing,” Clifton said. “We have discussed with ADOT experimenting with different messages.
“For instance, we have assumed that the traveler really just wants to know times for different routes. But we also know from our transportation master plan that travelers don’t like congestion, irrespective of overall travel time.”
Yavapai County Supervisor Randy Garrison agreed that a sign closer to Camp Verde would help motorists heading to Sedona much more than the Sunset Point sign.
“That’s a long ways out to be thinking about Sedona,” Garrison said.
He believes a sign between the SR169 exit and Copper Canyon would be the best place for the new live sign. It should be far enough out from SR260 so motorists can make a decision. “It needs to be closer to be impactful,” said Garrison.