As chair of the Alternate Route Taskforce (ART), I would like the people in Payson to know what we are aiming to do.
Around town it is almost as common a topic as the weather: Getting across the highway on the weekends. What back way can one take to avoid the highway? If I make three right turns can I get left? If I turn at the traffic light will my car's suspension take the back road to the Beeline Café? People have reported that some stores simply close on Friday afternoon because of the hassles.
My big concern when I took on this challenge was what effects would be felt by our local businesses by establishment of an alternate route, which would re-route Route 260 traffic that has no reason to drive through town.
Local businesses are owned and operated by our friends and neighbors, and I want them to thrive and not be financially harmed. Also, as Mr. Witte expressed in a recent Letter to the Editor, would the town suffer a loss of sales tax revenue if such a bypass were constructed?
In seeking these answers, I searched on the Internet and found that several states had studied this very situation. These studies have consistently shown that towns that were economically healthy prior to the building of the bypass did as well and sometimes even better after it was opened.
The alternate route will be built on Forest Service land.
We would be adamant that no commercial establishments be permitted on the bypass.
We would want signage that indicates that services and points of interest are available in Payson and that no services are available for the next X miles.
People who need a meal, groceries, gasoline or a place to stay will still come into town.
Also, traffic to and from the north on 87 will still go through town. Payson is a destination town and an alternate route will not change that.
The ART is having a meeting at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 9 at the Payson Public Library. I invite, and encourage, all who are interested in this project to attend this meeting to express their thoughts and ideas and to hear what we need to do to get this accomplished.
Chris Tilley, Payson