Since so many folks have moved here, Payson has acquired an identity crisis.
To all the old-timers, Payson's identity was clear and that is we are a pit stop for Valley travelers heading north or east to the cooler climes. Payson has never been a big destination and probably never will be, except for those with second homes in the area.
We are a pit stop and a bedroom community not particularly suited to light nonpolluting industry. It's confusing to our newcomers who would like to remake the town to be as similar to where they came from as possible and divert all the traveling public around the town, neither of which is likely to occur as they are mutually exclusive.
However, it is a shame that locals have to fight the summer traffic on the highways but there are solutions and Tom Loeffler and the STAC are onto the solutions with their surface transportation improvement studies. However, here is an additional thought to consider: an inner loop for local residents.
It would be a huge improvement to have an inner loop paralleling the Beeline allowing for local traffic to access the parking lots of the businesses along the Beeline without having to travel the Beeline, especially in the southeast and southwest quadrants where the traffic backs up worse.
That would solve the frustration factor local residents experience in the summer, but it wouldn't adequately address the bottleneck issue along the highways. So the question of the bypass looms large still and that stems from Payson's identity crisis.
Some folk want to remake Payson to be more like Southern California, sort of like Prescott and others want to divert all the traveling public far around the town. Both ideas are foolish on their face. Who needs another Prescott and the bypass crowd is going to face stiff opposition from Star Valley and the tribe who would suffer most from lost revenue.
So the solution is to accept who we are, welcome our travelers to town, provide them with the services they require such as clean spacious restrooms (even shower facilities), eateries and parking facilities, then pat them on the back with a friendly word and send them down the road with a great big smile and a louder jingle in our pockets. What the town needs then is a pass thru with a inner loop for locals, not a bypass.
We can accomplish good hospitality first by recognizing who our target market group is (the traveler) and providing good service to them including adequate streamlining of both the Beeline and Hwy 260. Roundabouts are the solution here for a safe smooth traffic flow thru town.
A roundabout should replace the existing traffic signal at the Beeline and the entrance to the casino. This would force the traffic to slow sooner and provide greater visual exposure (a longer look) at the casino for those travelers who may quickly decide to divert for some gambling entertainment before moving on. Remember, the casino and its other amenities provide good jobs and lots of money to Payson.
Next the speed limit all along the Beeline from the casino roundabout to Hwy. 260 should be a constant 35 miles per hour north and south bound as well as the speed limit from the Beeline/Highway 260 intersection to Manzanita Street east and west bound.
The traffic signals at Main Street and Bonita should be set to four way flashing yellow caution lights from before Memorial Day to after Labor Day. The same with the signals along Hwy. 260 including Manzanita Street.
Finally, the main intersection at the Beeline and Highway 260 should be converted to a roundabout, as well, with the existing signals set to four way flashing yellow caution lights. The advantages of the roundabout design have been thoroughly reported by the Roundup and is a concept which is way overdue to be implemented.
Understanding who we are as a community is paramount so that appropriate businesses can succeed here and traffic problems can be addressed satisfactorily to accommodate our visitors and our citizens. These are just a few suggestions which should provide comfort, safety and ease to all of us that live and/or work in Payson.
S. Olan Lanphear