By Naomi Hatch –
A study funded through the Arizona Department of Transportation’s (ADOT) Planning Assistance for Rural Areas (PARA) program was presented to the citizens of Taylor and Snowflake Feb. 15 in an open house where they had the opportunity to review transportation planning information pertaining to proposed roadways in and between the two towns.
The goal of the open house was to secure input from residents on the future of transportation in the region.
A study team headed by Project Manager Jim Townsend of Wilson & Company and representatives from ADOT were present to answer questions.
Following the open house a joint meeting was held during which Townsend made a presentation to the councils in a joint work session.
The purpose of the transportation study is to address the need for interconnected transportation between the towns of Snowflake and Taylor, since officials of both towns recognize the need to address future traffic de-mands, complement their land use planning and enhance economic development efforts.
Townsend explained that a comprehensive and cohesive transportation network is required to address the future growth both towns are anticipating with the plan considering motorized and non-motorized traveling op-tions other than the use of State Highways 77 and 277.
The study used already established planning documents, including the Southern Navajo County Transporta-tion Study, the Town of Snowflake General Plan, the Town of Taylor General Plan, and the Aztec Land and Cattle Company plan, to study and identify specific alignments for key roadways to be developed.
Snowflake Town Engineer Rob Emmett explained that when he began looking at the transportation plans generated by Navajo County, he decided to contact Ron Solomon of the Taylor Public Works Department. “The way the county left the transportation plan, there was no continuity to bring people in the south and north ends,” said Emmett. They applied for a grant and were successful, and are now moving forward, he said.
ADOT officials felt the towns of Snowflake and Taylor had a great opportunity to bring this project on a regional level, so were successful in receiving the grant.
Applications were accepted for up to $250,000 and this grant application was $80,000, so they’ve been try-ing to keep the scope focused and stay on schedule so it doesn’t go over budget.
ADOT officials indicated that there would be opportunities to apply for funding in the future and encour-aged the towns to do that.
Jim Townsend, technical consultant for Wilson & Company, made a presentation, noting, “We were the technical consultant that completed the south area for Navajo County and central area for Navajo County, so we’ve been in county for the past five years.”
He said that the purpose was to guide the communities toward coordinating and prioritizing already identi-fied future transportation corridors, establishing alignments and identifying right of way needs for future im-provements.
“Ultimately, this document will provide guidance for future infrastructure investments in both Snowflake and Taylor,” said Townsend.
“Plans are a very powerful tool, because ultimately land uses need to have a balance,” he continued. “A fu-ture land use plan is an incredible tool for you to understand what you’re trying to accomplish, because as transportation plans are developed they can match.
“Transportation planning elements is a very important concept. As the community grows, it becomes more important to have a hierarchy of roads. That hierarchy of roads allows communities to have control and direct how access is given.”
Townsend displayed a map of future roads and explained that Paper Mill Road and Pinedale roads “should be on your radar screen for something that can eventually start causing issues,” noting it can take 15 to 20 years from thought to construction.
There were 11 roadways or concept alignments that Townsend explained, and he advised the councils that they need to narrow them down to four, identify the right-of-way needs, identify structures and major drainage needs and identify potential impacts.
Townsend summed it up by stating, “The key of this study was to focus on the core, take care of core road-ways between the two towns and what could help you with multimovability within the towns.
“After we complete this, you adopt the plan, update your standards, update the general plan so that it incor-porates the maps, it incorporates the cross sections, the ideas, what you’re trying to accomplish. From there if you want to start refining land use for a future land use map, future development map now that you know that Aztec (Land and Cattle) is happening. Possibly conduct a less area detailed analysis of economic development land use study for the west side and north side of town so you can identify those primary areas that can support industrial and what is really meant for residential development.”
Townsend suggested the towns come up with a plan where they want to cross the railroad on the north side so that those decisions don’t have to be made at a single point in time, they are made in a process.
The towns should then update design standards so that access management and cross access are in place, noting, “So as economic development occurs and as the transportation system is being developed, you don’t have to react to those things any more. Those policies are in place.
“An overall system approach is really the key to success,” said Townsend, “and take it one bite at a time.”