Mud Springs Makes Council Crazy


It now seems clear: Mud Springs Road represents some bizarre ink blot test for the inner psyche of the municipal mentality.

How else to account for its dramatic effect on political egos and policy formulation?

This is either some strange psych experiment -- or there's a hidden camera rolling somewhere.

Consider the following simplified sequence of orchestrated events.

  • The extension of Mud Springs to Highway 260 lingers for maybe a decade as a top priority to improve the traffic circulation of a large chunk of town.
  • Payson school district builds a hard-to-get-to school, on condition that Payson eventually finishes the extension to improve emergency access.
  • Mayor Bob Edwards thinks the extension might increase traffic in his neighborhood.
  • The town approves the $1.1 million project, with major help from the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT). Edwards fights the good fight -- but loses.
  • Edwards stirs up neighborhood and outraged homeowners say the connection way up at the north end of the route will somehow induce thousands of drivers a day to try to escape highway bumper to bumper on the a torturously round about bypass.
  • A council faced with actual voters sends the matter back to the Surface Transportation Advisory Committee (STAC).
  • People in adjacent neighborhoods who badly want a new way to get to the highway present contrasting petitions.
  • Council now confronted with pressure on two sides.
  • Council rejects Edwards' attempt to appoint an outspoken opponent of the extension to STAC, which is studying the extension. Everyone gets a little hysterical.
  • Council votes again -- this time to approve a contract to design a roundabout connection with the highway even though STAC is still studying the street design. Town Engineer LaRon Garrett assures council ADOT wants a roundabout.
  • Mayor Edwards refuses to sign contract to design the roundabout. This forces the matter onto the council agenda yet again -- supposedly just to authorize Vice Mayor Tim Fruth to sign the contract.
  • Council doesn't talk at all about who can sign contracts.
  • Mayor Edwards attempts to appoint another outspoken opponent of the extension to STAC. Everyone gets a little hysterical.
  • Mr. Garrett reveals that ADOT might not want a roundabout. Depends on a traffic study, which is not yet completed, which he didn't really mention previously.
  • Independent traffic engineer testifies the extension will barely generate enough traffic to justify a stop sign, never mind a roundabout.
  • Council rejects STAC appointment and postpones action on roundabout contract until after the traffic study is done.

See what we mean?

This is nuts, to quote Mayor Edwards.

We can barely keep track of the order in which to disagree. But we'll try.

Edwards could have gained all the signs, humps and "traffic calming" devices he ever wanted to slow traffic, if he'd just struck a deal in the beginning instead of trying to raise a mob to storm the Bastille.

The council majority should have stood its ground.

It's nutso to design the roundabout first -- especially if a stop sign will serve.

Mr. Garrett should not have saved the traffic study for a surprise, unless he was just having too much fun watching the council self-destruct to mention it earlier.

Maybe everyone needs some couch time to get in touch with the real issue.

Mud Springs never merited this blood bath, because sensible compromise that benefited the entire community was at hand all the while.

In truth, it stands as a metaphor for the winner-take-all approach.

The council's self-administered personality stress test did reveal crucial psychological information.

To quote Pogo: We have met the enemy. He is us.

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