Avoiding gridlock

Study grades traffic flow (it's a 'D' on Stockton Hill Road), offers suggestions to make it better

Miner Photo/JC AMBERLYN
Construction projects can create roadblocks and detours, such as this one on Gordon Drive in Kingman.

Miner Photo/JC AMBERLYN Construction projects can create roadblocks and detours, such as this one on Gordon Drive in Kingman.

KINGMAN ­ The fear of congestion, unrelenting traffic, a growing paralysis of getting from point A to point B ­ all concerns of residents in a town where a high growth rate begins to transform the surrounding environment and everyday activities such as shopping and going to work.

Consultants Parsons Brinckerhoff issued to the city of Kingman last January the results of a transportation study conducted between 2003 and 2004 that identifies current problem areas in the city and traffic trends to be expected through 2023 with an annual population growth rate of 4 percent.

When one thinks of congestion, obviously current images of Stockton Hill Road come to mind.

On a traditional A to F grading system, the consultants used to define the levels of service in current hot areas, four of the eight signaled intersections have a level of D or worse at one or both peak hours, as well as four of the 20 intersections without signals studied.

All of those intersections are in the vicinity of Stockton Hill Road between Beverly and Airway, with the exception of Route 66 and Louise Avenue.

Traffic counts in the area currently range between 22,900 to 31,500 vehicles per day.

The study projects the highest traffic forecasts to continue in the area, increasing 59 percent to about 50,000 per day, equally increasing traffic along Route 66, Airway Avenue and US 93.

The city completed a light synchronization project last spring in an immediate effort to improve vehicle flow in the problem sectors.

The largest increase compared to existing conditions is expected on Airway Avenue.

The study recommends widening Airway to six lanes along with Stockton Hill and Route 66 between downtown and Northern Avenue.

Based on the General Plan, the study identifies large population and employment increases on the east side of the railroad tracks.

Other capacity deficiencies identified in the next 20 years other than Stockton Hill and Airway are Louise Avenue, Route 66 between Northern Avenue and downtown, Hualapai Mountain Road between Eastern Street and Seneca Street, N. Bank Street, Harrison Street and US 93.

The Airway underpass opening, however, alters this projection and places significant traffic on Eastern Street and changes the overall dynamic on the east side.

Residents living in areas primarily accessed by Hualapai Mountain Road pleaded to the city Planning and Zoning Commission in a recent public hearing to consider traffic repercussions as residential subdivisions sprout up in the Hualapai Foothills area. Judging by the average of two vehicles per household, new homes currently planned for the area could add more than 1,000 vehicle trips per day on Hualapai Mountain Road.

The city is expecting the first results next month of a study of the east side from Railroad Street to the Hualapai Foothills to determine improvements in that area, City Public Works Director Jack Kramer said.

Improvements for Eastern Street and Hualapai Mountain Road are currently programmed in the city's five-year capital improvements plan.

With about 8,200 vehicles today using Louise Avenue as the primary access, a further analysis would be needed once the underpass is open and the Louise rail crossing is closed to determine what additional improvements may be needed, Kramer added.

Airway Avenue as an access to the east side would likely lessen Harrison Street as a north-south thoroughfare, he said.

Kramer said that broadening Bank Street to five lanes between Airway and Gordon Avenue, a project expected to begin late spring, would be a big step in improving north-south access.

Gordon Drive improved to a minimum of three lanes is currently in the design process, he added.

As building and commercial development picks up on the east side, the city committed funding for an Interstate 40 interchange located at Rattlesnake Wash, exactly 5 miles east on I-40 from the Stockton Hill interchange, an access project in cooperation with the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Other improvements in the immediate plan are slated for Stockton Hill Road, the West Beale Interchange, the Topeka Street railroad crossing for improved emergency access and Kingman Crossing­ a beginning development in East Kingman.

A four-lane road, tentatively referred to as Gracie Neal Parkway, is part of a long-term plan that would connect a loop around the city, Kramer said. A connecting roadway between the Kingman Airport and Stockton Hill Road at the Arizona Game and Fish office, Gracie Neal Parkway, is part of a rough design of a loop running north, beginning at Hualapai Mountain Road, intersecting Southern and Louise avenues, and connecting at Rattlesnake Wash then continuing to the airport.

The project, a cooperative effort between Mohave County and Kingman, is in the planning stages. The county Board of Supervisors approved this month hiring an engineering consultant to come up with a design concept for Gracie Neal Parkway from the airport as well as extending Bank Street to connect, county Assistant Public Works Director Nick Hunt said.

Hunt said the study would provide the basis of a report outlining requirements for the road and for flood control that would be financed by developers intending to build in the area between Stockton Hill Road and Route 66.

The city currently has 17 miles of dirt streets throughout various neighborhoods, sometimes drawing criticism from residents. Streets in growing neighborhoods and new developments traditionally have been financed either by the developers or through area improvement districts. Previous Councils have been in a bind in addressing the issue, since existing access needs make up 27 percent of the city's capital improvements budget and other area home owners are paying out of their pockets to pay for their streets, such as the city's current district recently formed running parallel to Bank Street between Airway and Gordon.