A proposed corridor along Avenue D and County 14th Street probably won't happen for decades but city and state officials are already planning for it.
The Arizona Department of Transportation and the city of Yuma held an informational meeting Thursday to update citizens on the potential future roadway dubbed Yuma Expressway.
Officials also want to know what residents think about the proposed corridor. Public comments are being taking until Jan. 24.
The corridor wouldn't be feasible until Yuma reaches a population of 370,000; the city currently has 200,000 residents. However, officials note that now is the time to plan for a corridor to handle future traffic.
“It can take up to 20 years to finalize the design and planning and find the funding. The city doesn't want to get caught like the existing situation, with congested roadways,” Mark Hoffman, ADOT project manager, said.
“Yuma is growing a lot and is expected to continue growing,” ADOT spokesman Dustin Krugel said. “The city is taking a proactive approach and taking a look at the traffic needs.”
The focus has been on a proposed roadway corridor in the southern and western regions of Yuma County. An expressway would have three lanes in each direction with a right-of-way of 160 feet. The existing road is a two-lane roadway with unpaved shoulders and 66 feet of right of way.
Doug LaMont, project manager with the study consultant, Parsons Brinckerhoff, pointed out that the city also doesn't want to miss an opportunity to save money by planning now and down the line have to buy houses and property at a much higher cost.
Greg Fly, deputy project manager with Parsons Brinckerhoff, noted that the concept has been discussed for years. A 1988 Interstate 8 and U.S. 95 corridor study recommended the Yuma Expressway within close proximity of the existing Avenue D and County 14th Street alignment. It carried over into the 1990-2010 Countywide Transportation Plan.
The city classified the proposed expressway as a Priority 3 project in the city's Capital Improvement Program for 2012 to 2021.
The one-year study began in March 27 and is set to conclude in February.
At the first public meeting in September 2012, the study team presented current and future conditions. In the past few months, the project team worked on defining potential corridor alternatives based on technical data and input received from the public and stakeholders.
The study began with 13 combinations of roadway types and corridors. Those were narrowed down to four options.
At this point the team considered safety, cost, consistency with city approved plans, implementation, right of way impacts, benefits to cross region travel times and Colorado River impacts.
The best alternative was determined to be 3B, which received the best score for future concerns because: it avoids as much existing development as possible; the expressway provides additional capacity to the existing roadway network, possibly relieving existing congestion within the city; it has low impact on MCAS-Yuma Airport; it corresponds to previously approved city planning documents; and Avenue D and County 14th Street would remain.
The consultants also considered several criteria as they narrowed down the options, including future traffic, existing residences, agriculture, MCAS-Yuma Airport, access, frontage roads and environmental impacts. After the study ends, officials will continue to analyze the proposed expressway as the land use and population changes.
To submit comments or for more information about the study, visit www.azdot.gov/yumaexpressway.