Traffic Committee Prioritizes Projects


In an effort to rationalize street planning, the Surface Transportation Advisory Committee (STAC) last week adopted a priority list of needed street improvements -- that as one side effect knocked the extension of Mud Springs out of its top spot on the old priority list.

Incoming chairman Tom Loeffler has pushed in every meeting to come up with factual criteria on which to base the committee's decisions about everything from roundabouts to controversial projects like the Mud Springs extension.

Traffic accidents in Payson Accidents by street between Jan. 1 2005 and April 30 2008• 27 Longhorn (between Hwy 87 and Sycamore)• 11 Frontier (between Hwy 87 and McLane)• 8 Phoenix (between Highway 87 and Sycamore)• 8 Colcord (between Main and Longhorn)• 8 McLane• 7 Aero (between Highway 87 and Ponderosa)

His approach was road tested last week during the discussion of the priority the town should assign to millions of dollars worth of road projects. At the end of the discussion, the STAC committee fell into line with the priorities Loeffler and Town Engineer LaRon Garrett had developed, in merging the previous two or three different roadwork priority lists into a single list.

On the new list, the top five projects, in order, were design work on Frontier Street, rebuilding and widening Manzanita Street, rebuilding a stretch of McLane Road, extending Rumsey Road and designing and buying right of way to extend Goodnow Road. The extension of Mud Springs Road, which had been the top priority on the old list, fell to number six on the new list.

The new list took into account traffic counts, traffic accidents, contribution to the town's overall circulation plan, condition of the road, timing as it relates to other projects and whether developer or grant money will help pay for the improvements.

"The council will be meeting on May 13 to go through the capitol budget for next year and they wanted to see what we had to say about the roads for that meeting. I don't know if we have all the information we could, but we're going to need to do something for the council."

That launched a long discussion of the priority list that mostly endorsed Loeffler's criteria. "The list considers what's practical to do and what type of funding is coming in down the road."

Moreover, the list takes into account how other projects will affect local traffic during different phases of construction.

Several members of the committee pushed initially to reorder the priorities.

For instance, newly appointed commissioner Chris Tilley suggested moving the extension of Rumsey Road up the priority list, in hopes it would qualify for a probably small pool of construction money in the upcoming fiscal budget. "I don't deny all these roads need to be done. But the Rumsey Road extension would expedite people getting around town."

"I live on the west side too," replied Loeffler, "but I look at McLane Road and the people are walking there, with ditches on both sides and the volume is increasing. For safety reasons, we have to look at some roads that are hazardous before other roads."

Commissioner Jim Hippel offered his own reordering, suggesting: "Manzanita should be number one on the list. Rumsey second. Then McLane. Then Frontier. Just my thoughts."

The committee also debated whether the town will be able to afford any of the recommended improvements, given the dramatic decline in building permits and the worrisome decrease in sales tax receipts.

But the committee ultimately decided to simply rank the projects in order of importance in the knowledge that it may take the town years to work its way down the list and actually fund the recommended projects.

So Commissioner Bruce Van Camp recommended to accept Loeffler's list "and send it on to the council with loving care. I can't see a thing wrong with this list, with what you've done with each individual project."

The only change in the recommended list the committee approved was to drop as a project the construction of a new parking lot off Main Street, after Garrett said the discovery of some historical artifacts on the site would make it unsuitable for the proposed project to provide parking for a revitalized Main Street.

The approved projects in order of priority include:

1 -- Frontier Street: $125,000 (Highway 87 to McLane) design only. The town needs to do the design work so that it can move quickly for the more expensive reconstruction project before the propose overhaul of Main Street requires an alternate route.

2 -- Manzanita Drive: $550,000. Rebuild the entire street and add bike path and sidewalk, without developer money if necessary. The street has long lingered on various priority lists as it deteriorated, but has been stuck in limbo by a stalled project whose developer had agreed to pay for the rebuilding.

3 -- McLane Road: $800,000 (Airport to Payson Ranchos). Rebuild entire road, with sidewalks and bike paths. Present narrow, heavily traveled road poses traffic safety issues.

4 -- Rumsey Road extension: $440,000. This extension will reduce volume on Forest and Longhorn, which generates more traffic accidents than any other street in town. The extension will also give people a way to move through town without using the congested highway.

5 -- Goodnow Road extension: $115,000 (design and right of way). Do the ground work for an extension that will reduce volume of traffic around the Safeway shopping center and allow people to reach the shopping area without using the highway.

6 -- Mud Springs extension $800,000. The extension will provide a second outlet to the highway for East Side residents and relieve problems at Granite Dells intersection with the highway. Timing will depend on when the town can install measures to slow and reduce traffic on Phoenix Street.

7 -- Frontier Street: $50,000 (right of way, Highway 87 to McLane)

8 -- Easy Street: $155,000 (design only, Evergreen to Matterhorn): The narrow roadway with ditches on each side and heavy traffic poses safety problems.

9 -- Goodnow Road: $650,000 (construction).

10 -- Frontier Street: $1.5 million (construction).

11 -- Phoenix Street $72,000 (design). In order to rebuild the road in 2012 with state and federal grants, the town much complete a design soon.

12 -- Easy Street: $1.73 million (construction)

13 -- North McLane Road: $1 million (Payson Ranchos to Payson Pines). Completing the road will significantly increase mobility and a sideway and bike path will increase safety.

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