Proposal for new expressway too far ahead of time
It appears a proposal for an “expressway” around Yuma is about as popular today as it was a few years ago when it was first proposed – and that means not popular at all.
No one spoke in favor of the idea at an open house seeking public comment on the roadway held Tuesday by Arizona Department of Transportation.
The idea behind the proposed new highway is to provide a direct link to Interstate 8 and State Route 195 in the area south of Yuma. The goal is for truck and other traffic to be routed around Yuma to avoid causing potential congestion on the city's roads.
The plan was first proposed a few years ago and dropped. Now city planners have requested that ADOT do a study of the feasibility of the expressway and potentially place it in the state agency's planning documents for future funding. There has been no funding yet identified for the roadway, which is the first obstacle to the idea.
The other big obstacle is that no one, other than city planners, seem to want it. And that includes the consultants hired by the state to look at its feasibility.
The key objections aired at the open house are that the expressway is not needed, would slice across valuable farm land and could potentially encroach on Yuma's Marine Corps Air Station.
The lack of need for it is potentially the critical flaw. State consultants said that current roadways are adequate for at least a couple of decades and with modifications could potentially be adequate much longer. That is likely to discourage state officials from even considering the project.
A counter argument could be that the time to identify a route and begin acquiring land is now because the acquisition would be even more expensive in the future. But we doubt that argument is going to sell in these times of government fiscal restraint. And, besides, if the time does come when an expressway is needed, who knows if that route will still be the best choice.
The city should put this aside and focus on public needs that are more urgent.