Originally published Wednesday, January 30, 2019 at 12:09p.m.

We’ll soon be getting down to the nitty gritty on the Verde Connect project, a new local thoroughfare expected to link Beaverhead Flat Road with Arizona 260.

District 3 Supervisor Randy Garrison said Monday the county soon will release its short list of routes that will include a new bridge crossing over the Verde River.

The short list likely will create considerable community debate among those who see this new road as an economic shot in the arm for property owners along the new route. Ditto for those who want the road as far removed from their neighborhood as possible.

It also will be a chance for those so inclined to question the very need for this road.

Already, there is a public Facebook group -- Save the Middle Verde -- which claims the road will negatively change the community character of Middle Verde in addition to bypassing Camp Verde’s 260 economic corridor. It’s a bad deal for Camp Verde, they claim.

Garrison says those comments are premature “since they don’t have any idea of the proposal, but those are primarily the larger land holders. Most residents appear to be in support.”

Another complaint voiced by the Save the Middle Verde crowd is that the Verde Connect road is needed to lessen the traffic load on State Route 179 leading into the Village of Oak Creek. The rub here is that State Route 179 was poorly conceived in the first place and went against the recommendations of the Arizona Department of Transportation. It should have been built as a four-lane roadway instead of its two-lane bifurcated design and the rest of the Verde Valley should not be seen as the solution to this faux pas.

An opposing view is that Verde Connect will not lessen the load on SR 179 at all, but actually make it worse.

Take your pick.

Finally, there are those who question the actual “Point A to Point B” benefit of connecting Beaverhead Flat Road to SR 260. It’s hardly the no-brainer project that married Cottonwood’s Mingus Avenue to Yavapai County’s Cornville Road.

As is so common with a project that represents dramatic change, there is no shortage of opinions when it comes to Verde Connect.

Once the county is ready to make public its Verde Connect short list of routes, Garrison said county officials will conduct public hearings in each of the region’s five municipalities as well as the Yavapai Apache Nation.

Those hearings also likely will be shared with the region’s quasi-government agencies such as the Cornville, Beaver Creek and Big Park community associations and councils.

That’s when the rubber will meet the road on this project.

“This round of public comment will narrow it down and then hopefully we can make a decision on the final proposal,” said Garrison.

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