The recent Labor Day traffic debacle here in Payson should once again ignite the debate over a "bypass" or "alternative truck route" from Phoenix to points east of here.
The dialogue should not focus on if, but when.
Phoenix metro is growing faster than any metropolitan area in the country, netting over 100,000 people per year. It is naive and irresponsible to think that we here at the intersection of Highways 260 and 87 can continue to absorb the weekend and holiday traffic counts we have now and will have into the future, without some sort of mitigation.
As a business and property owner twice-over, I have a keen interest in the economic vitality of the area. While most business owners agree the Beeline Highway is our lifeblood, I believe it's starting to hemorrhage.
And while some types of businesses do well when traffic is peaking, others suffer dramatically; some choosing to close or limit their weekend hours, knowing their loyal customers won't brave the onslaught. Only 10 years ago, the two large grocery chains along the 260 had a full complement of neighbors. Just look at those shopping centers now.
Clearly the increased traffic over the years has not been a boon to all.
As we look to celebrate Payson's 125th anniversary, let us not forget the quality-of-life reasons that brought us here and protect them as best we can.