If Payson wants a bypass merely to relieve local traffic congestion, improve access to businesses located on 87 and 260, avoid future bond issues to relieve growing traffic congestion, and to sort out through traffic needing Payson services from other through traffic, then it should immediately initiate action to obtain feasibility and other required studies necessary for the bypass project.
Presently, the lead time for such a project is at least 10 years.
Highway users have limited patience in respect to traffic congestion that consumes valuable time and increases accident risk because of congestion frustrations. There is a substantial risk that if Payson is perceived as being irrevocably opposed to a Payson bypass, the highway users may effectively lobby for a solution to Payson's traffic congestion that does not involve Payson.
There is a risk that bypasses could be constructed 25 to 35 miles away from Payson. One possibility is that traffic from Central Phoenix and the West Valley to either the Rim lakes or the White Mountains might go up I-17 to 260 and take 260 and the bypass around Camp Verde to 87 and then continue on a newly-constructed modern highway from there to Heber and their destination. Fortunately for Payson, such a highway has not yet been constructed.
Another possibility is that the trucking industry and East Valley recreation users might successfully lobby for shortcut to the Rim Country, the White Mountains, the Midwest and the East that is far away from Payson. Such a route could leave 87 at Sunflower, go over Reno Pass diagonally northeast from Tonto Creek, near to the crest of the Sierra Anchas and then north to Forest Lakes.
By acting now to indicate its support for a Payson bypass, the possible outcomes described above could probably be avoided.
If growth in traffic on 87 and 260, that I have seen over the past 40 years, is any indication of future trends, Payson will have serious problems in its business community if such traffic trends continue. Businesses on south 87 and 260 that do not have any other access will lose customers because of the access problem. Such businesses may be forced into either relocation of their business or bankruptcy.
Payson has the potential to be an extremely attractive place to live. In order for this to happen, we have to understand and evaluate the risks involved in our choices. We also need to be involved in research, education and advocacy in order to make optimal choices in respect to major Payson issues.
Jim Winter, Payson