Residents raise concerns over 93 transportation

It was transportation, not water, that was the main concern during Tuesday's Northwest Highway 93 Corridor Area Plan meeting.

Residents at the meeting asked Mike Kondelis Arizona Department of Transportation's district engineer for the Kingman area a number of questions about ADOT's future plans for the route.

A main concern was access to the highway. Residents wanted to know how many interchanges were planned along the route, would some access points be closed and would frontage roads be used to provide access to the interchanges.

Several new interchanges are planned along the northwest corridor of U.S. Highway 93, he said, including points at Temple Bar, near Mardian's Ranch at White Hills, Pierce Ferry Road and others.

Right now, ADOT plans to maintain things as they are, Kondelis said. A new diamond-shaped interchange costs around $25 million.

Kondelis could not tell residents when the new interchanges along the highway would be built.

ADOT usually builds a new interchange only when the amount of traffic warrants the cost.

ADOT may try to improve the safety of some crossovers along U.S. 93 by adding acceleration or deceleration lanes until an interchange is built, he said.

Kondelis also updated residents about the work on the Hoover Dam bypass bridge. The new high-line crane system will be finished in the next few weeks he said.

The high-line crane system transferred materials from one side of the canyon walls to the other and was designed to allow crews to work on the central arch of the bridge. The cranes collapsed in September of 2006 during high winds.

Every high-line crane system is unique. It is designed to meet the special needs of the project being built.

Therefore, the cranes are not easily replaced, and a study had to be completed to determine why the cranes failed before a new set could be built.

Once the new set of cranes are in place, construction of the central arch of the bridge will start, he said.

Kondelis expected the bypass project would be completed by 2010.

At the same time, ADOT plans to widen and pave U.S. 93 to four lanes from milepost 2 near Hoover Dam to milepost 17, which is north of Temple Bar Road. The project will cover 14 miles and cost around $80 million. Construction on the project is supposed to start this fall.

Included in the project will be three wildlife crossings for bighorn sheep in the area. The crossings are expected to cost around $4 to $5 million.

The checkpoint will stay in its current location but will become more streamlined into the flow of traffic, he said.

A resident asked if the cost of the bypass project would increase due to the delay.

The cost of the project was not expected to change from its original $234 million price tag, Kondelis said.

Residents expressed concern over the expected increase in traffic, especially truck traffic, along the route once the bypass is open.

Norty Turchen, who is running for the District 1 supervisor seat, asked if ADOT would be able to do anything bout the Pierce Ferry Road crossing. A number of school buses turn either north or south onto U.S. 93 to pick up or return students during the school year.

Until the volume of traffic increases, ADOT is unlikely to put either a stoplight or an interchange at the crossing, Kondelis said.

Another resident asked if there was some way ADOT could permanently keep truck traffic off the route.

No, Kondelis said. Right now U.S. 93 is the only route in the U.S. that still has a travel restriction on it from the Sept. 11 attacks. Once the bypass is finished, the route will be reopened to trucks.

Residents also heard a presentation from Ruben Sanchez, field manager for the Kingman Bureau of Land Management Field Office.

Sanchez briefly explained some of the services the BLM offers and how the office acquires and sells land. He also told residents about a program that would allow the BLM to donate a parcel of land to the community for a park, school or other purpose. However, once the land is donated to the community, it must be used for that specific purpose and cannot be sold.

The condition of roads in the Dolan Springs area was also brought up during the meeting. Many of the roads in the area get washed out during heavy rains.

County Planner Kevin Davidson said some of the roads may not be on the county's road maintenance program, but he would ask someone from the County's Public Works Department to discuss the situation at the next meeting.

The next meeting of the Northwest Highway 93 Corridor Area Plan Committee was set for 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 19 at the Dolan Spring's Community Hall.