By Sam Conner–
The Arizona Department of Transportation and contractors are working on the Second Street and Williamson Avenue traffic signal and intersection in Winslow, which has closed the underpass and left those wishing to go south from most of Winslow on State Route 87, or come to downtown Winslow from Southside and Cooperstown or the state prison, having to travel west several miles to a railroad overpass to do so. Until the underpass is reopened, there is no other choice.
Winslow City Manager Jim Ferguson said last week that emergency vehicles were scheduled to be able to use the underpass by about July 18, but that other traffic will have to wait until approximately July 29. Only one lane will be open when traffic resumes.
He noted that the contractors have double shifts working and are moving as fast as possible.
Ferguson also noted that the police and fire departments have made arrangements for coverage in Cooperstown and Southside during the period when the underpass is not in use. That still leaves longer and more inconvenient travel for all needing to go to the other side of the tracks.
Winslow did at one time have a railroad crossing at Cottonwood Lane east of downtown, but that was abandoned by the city and removed by the railroad. Ferguson said that replacing it would be difficult, as would be getting the railroad to agree to reestablish the crossing.
He said that the city does need other ways to cross the tracks and will consider any option. One such option is an overpass east of the city similar to the one west of the city. Any such construction would be expensive, difficult and would require permission from the railroad.
On other topics, Ferguson said that the LaSalle Southwest Corrections Corporation which has submitted plans to build a private prison in south Winslow is one of four companies which have been deemed acceptable by the Arizona Department of Corrections. He said that there is likelihood that Winslow will hold a public hearing on the prison proposal in 30 to 45 days. The Department of Corrections is expected to announce a decision by Sept. 1. He said that he considers LaSalle’s proposal to be strong, competitive and with a good site.
He also touched on the Navajo County Supervisor redistricting situation, and said that it is important that Winslow not be split into two districts, as has been the case. It is important that such be the case to assure that the supervisor representing the city be aware of and work for the city’s interests, whether he is a resident of the city or not. He said that other cities such as Show Low, Holbrook and Snowflake should not be split either, as they, too, deserve fair representation.
Ferguson said that he and the city staff are willing to do whatever is necessary to bring industry or other businesses to the area to increase jobs for local residents. He cited the possible new prison and the proposed oriented strand board (OSB) project as good possibilities. He noted that city officials would also be seeking companies looking for warehousing, as Winslow has a number of vacant buildings which could be used for this purpose, rail, air and ground transportation, and an adequate workforce.
He further said that new businesses coming to Holbrook would also be good for the city, as anything that benefits the area benefits Winslow.