- Associated Press - Saturday, May 2, 2015

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - The traffic problems that come with being Arizona’s go-to ski destination are getting harder to deal with, Flagstaff officials said.

City workers told the Flagstaff City Council in a meeting earlier this week that they have been seeking more economical ways to deal with traffic jams that arise when visitors show up for snow. The traffic tie-ups are at their worst when Flagstaff receives fresh snowfalls around holiday weekends such as Christmas and New Year’s, City Metro Planning Organization Manager David Wessel said.

Residents and emergency vehicles have found it difficult when traffic to snow-recreation areas and the Arizona Snowbowl crowds highways that include Interstate 17 and Highway 180, Wessel added. The situation can be dangerous for residents who can’t get out of their own neighborhoods.

Businesses that don’t depend on winter activities for revenue said the traffic is driving customers away.

In the past, the city and the Arizona Department of Transportation have revised the timing of traffic lights to ease the crows. But ADOT officials say that approach is now having little effect, the Arizona Daily Sun reported (https://bit.ly/1Q3SQE7).

Flagstaff Mayor Jerry Nabours said he wanted to look into the possibility of creating a center lane on Highway 180 that could switch directions from northbound to southbound depending on the time of day. This way, vehicles coming or going would temporarily have two lanes of traffic.

Such a project would be costly - between $12,000 and $15,000, ADOT Northern Region Traffic Engineer Kent Link said. It also wouldn’t be worth the effort.

“ADOT is not in the business of accommodating seasonal fluctuations in traffic,” Link said.

Council members and even employees at Snowbowl have been suggesting ideas to remedy the congestion. One idea is creating other snow-recreation areas that would be more dispersed across the city. Another is a shuttle service.

But Wessel said a bus would have to have a strong economic advantage in order to convince families hauling coolers and sleds to use it.

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Information from: Arizona Daily Sun, https://www.azdailysun.com/

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