State changes focus<br>on future of SR 64

It was more than a year ago when the Arizona Department of Transportation hosted a public meeting in Valle on the long-term future of State Route 64. Officials solicited opinions from the 27 people in attendance that evening and then received comments from 1,818 people in the weeks thereafter.

Plans call for widening State Route 64 to five lanes in this spot in Valle.

But after proceeding with the development of a design concept, planners have apparently decided to take things in a different direction. Instead of making decisions based on a 2025 timeframe, ADOT appears to be moving forward with spot improvements that would help the highway in the short term.

"Analysis of traffic and accident data has resulted in the identification of the basic improvement needs within the study corridor," ADOT reported in a recent newsletter. "A feasibility study and environmental overview are being prepared to identify and evaluate alternatives for improvements on SR 64 from I-40 to Tusayan."

In the newsletter, ADOT made reference to the change in philosophy allowing the development of proposed private transportation systems, such as the express rail idea being pushed by Grand Canyon Railway.

ADOT and its design team plan to identify various alternatives and come up with recommendations, and then separating those into "smaller projects to expedite design, funding and construction."

Among the recommended improvements:

o From I-40 to Valle (milepost 185.5 to 213.0) — The existing two-lane highway can be retained with spot improvements that would improve passing opportunities.

o Through Valle (milepost 213.0 to 214.0) — SR 64 needs to be widened to five lanes. ADOT previously completed a project assessment for a five-lane urban roadway section in this area.

o North of Valle to Kaibab National Forest (milepost 214.0 to 224.0) — Construction of new passing lanes and shoulder widening is recommended along the existing highway to improve passing opportunities.

o Through Kaibab National Forest to Tusayan (milepost 224.0 to 235.3) — A range of alternatives that would improve passing opportunities will be developed and evaluated.

ADOT reported that another public meeting was being tentatively scheduled for sometime this spring.

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