- Associated Press - Saturday, May 6, 2017

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - City leaders are seeking ways to reduce the amount of traffic gridlock and litter that cause problems in Flagstaff in the winter months when visitors flock to the city to play in the snow.

The issue came up at a City Council budget meeting last week when the city manager said $40,000 would be set aside to address the problem, the Arizona Daily Sun reported (https://bit.ly/2pKvQoy).

Heidi Hansen, the city’s economic vitality director said Tuesday that staff had discussed options such as greater police presence, more trash receptacles, volunteers from the city’s master recyclers and more education literature for winter visitors.

At the council meeting, Hansen said the city’s tourism fund had the $40,000 in one-time money available, as well as another $50,000 in contingency funding to aid in the effort.

Councilwoman Celia Barotz said she would like staff to keep in mind that litter education and adding trash receptacles is a separate issue from dealing with the gridlock that comes with increased traffic.

Hansen said other entities, including the Coconino County, the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Forest Service will be involved in the planning process as well as traffic mitigation.

Snow is a big draw around Flagstaff. Phoenix residents who never see a snowflake are drawn to the novelty of it, as are warm-climate tourists in Arizona visiting the Grand Canyon. The result is big traffic backups in Flagstaff as people flock to play in the snow.

“We will try to talk about congestion, but that’s a really, really big animal,” Hansen said, adding that it will require all entities to come to the table to put forth a workable solution.

J.R. Murray, the general manager of Arizona Snowbowl, a popular ski resort in Flagstaff, said that in December, the heavy flow of traffic overflows the community, causing visitors to park illegally on highways and on private property.

Some proposed solutions this year include fees and permits to use the 180 corridor and an alternative access route between Highway 180 and Interstate 40.

Hansen said the council will be presented with a formalized plan after city staff meets with other partners.

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

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