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Wed, Oct. 16

Kingman traffic: Stockton Hill Road proposals include roundabout

Traffic moves along Stockton Hill Road near I-40 last June. Proposals to improve the flow of traffic were aired at a special meeting Thursday.

JC AMBERLYN/Miner<BR> Traffic moves along Stockton Hill Road near I-40 last June. Proposals to improve the flow of traffic were aired at a special meeting Thursday.

KINGMAN - Synchronize traffic signals.

Build an elongated roundabout at Beverly Avenue.

Close several of the 116 driveways that dot Stockton Hill Road between Detroit and Northern avenues.

Interconnect business parking lots - like between Walmart and Smith's Food & Drug, for example.

These are some of the proposed plans to relieve congestion and improve safety for the thousands of motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians who use Stockton Hill Road every day.

Representatives from Parsons Brinckerhoff, a global firm that plans and designs infrastructure projects for government and private entities, and their client, the Arizona Department of Transportation, were on hand Thursday at City Hall for the second and final public meeting regarding the Stockton Hill Road Corridor Study.

Jennifer Love of Parsons Brinckerhoff told about two dozen residents in attendance what most of them already know - there are a number of deficiencies on Kingman's main commercial thoroughfare.

Traffic congestion on the road, particularly at midday, falls below levels considered safe. The most congested area is between Airway and Detroit avenues and, according to the report, "roadway and traffic improvements are necessary to alleviate the current and future congestion along Stockton Hill Road, as conditions are expected to deteriorate further over time."

And as frustrating as Stockton Hill Road is for drivers, it can be a nightmare for bicyclists, pedestrians, and people confined to motorized or non-motorized wheelchairs.

There are no designated bicycle facilities or interconnected sidewalks.

The Beverly Avenue and Stockton Hill Road intersection was identified as a "particular point of concern" due to its proximity to Interstate 40 (210 feet north of the westbound ramps).

Traffic on Stockton Hill Road commonly backs up more than 100 yards before the westbound ramps, creating severe congestion. The fact only right turns can be made from Beverly Avenue onto Stockton Hill Road further compounds the issue, according to the study.

The number of driveways, according to the study, is a problem since many of them are unnecessary.

"Ultimately, the number, location and length of curb cuts affect the free flow of traffic and cause automobile and pedestrian conflicts," the study states.

Unfortunately, said Love, business owners along the road don't necessarily have any incentive to close any superfluous driveways they might have.

Setting aside the obvious frustration many drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians often experience on Stockton Hill Road, the issue is more than just slow traffic.

Safety is a concern, particularly in front of Kingman Regional Medical Center, where many pedestrians and automobiles can be found. There have been many incidents of collisions and injured pedestrians in the area over the years and it will only get worse as time goes on.

Here's how they propose to fix the problems:

Program traffic signals so delays are minimized and traffic flow is maximized.

The programmed timing of green lights would provide the most efficient signal operation along the road.

Ultimately the goal would allow groups of automobiles - that are traveling at the posted speed limit - to "make" green lights without having to stop.

The last time lights were synchronized on Stockton Hill Road was five years ago. The report suggests this should occur every three years.

Right turn lanes

To improve capacity, the study proposes to add right turn lanes for northbound Stockton Hill Road at the I-40 eastbound ramp; for northbound Stockton Hill Road at Beverly Avenue; for southbound Stockton Hill Road at KRMC; for southbound Stockton Hill Road at Sycamore Avenue; and northbound Stockton Hill Road at Airway Avenue.

To improve and better control access, the study proposes several things, including closing the driveway at KRMC south of O'Reilly Auto Parts; provide through access between Walmart and the Ross PetSmart strip mall at Beverly Avenue; close the driveway at Del Taco; provide through access between AutoZone and Smith's Food & Drug; provide through access between Smith's Food & Drug and Walmart; provide through access south of Chase Bank at Stockton Hill Road and Kino Avenue; and close several other driveways.

Roundabout at Beverly

Perhaps the one proposal that is likely to draw criticism is the construction of an elongated roundabout at Beverly Avenue and Stockton Hill Road.

According to the study, the large amount of traffic and the several nearby intersections make this tentative idea worthwhile.

The advantages include the following: A roundabout would allow left turns from Beverly Avenue onto Stockton Hill Road. There would be minimal impacts to the existing roadways. The signal at the I-40 westbound lanes would be eliminated. The number of conflict points would be reduced. The number of stops drivers have to make would be reduced. Maintenance costs would be reduced. The east and west neighborhoods would be connected.

The disadvantages are that drivers would have to adjust to a non standard concept and it may cause a longer delay for motorists. It would also require a greater amount of right of way and could cause traffic backups between the KRMC signal and the I-40 westbound ramps.

The final plan could be formalized sometime in December.

From Mayor Janet Watson's perspective, the goal of diverting unnecessary traffic from Stockton Hill Road is a "double-edged sword."

She said the city encourages businesses to set up shop off of Stockton Hill Road to help relieve traffic congestion, but businesses want to be where the people are.

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