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The Roundabout: Getting What You Wished For

The Wickenburg Bypass and Roundabouts became fully operational this past September 14th. A brief progress update includes the fact that lane striping was completed on schedule and no accidents have been reported through October 2nd in either the south or north Roundabout. That’s good news, of course. This is not to say that a few drivers seem to be a bit disoriented, but the traffic is flowing well and everyone seems to be observing the Yield Right of Way signs.

The best news is that traffic congestion has been eliminated on Tegner Street at the junction of US-60 and US-93. The two photos were taken on Friday, October 2nd between 12:00 and 1:00 pm. This is a time when the Las Vegas – Phoenix traffic coincides with local lunchtime drivers and parents who are picking up their children from the elementary school south of West Wickenburg Way.

Figure 1 was taken from the overpass just west of Tegner, next to the Desert Caballeros Western Museum. As you can see, there were only a few cars on Wickenburg Way. The traffic light now seems to favor East-West vehicles with a shorter red light interval.

Wickenburg Way
Figure 1, View from West Wickenburg Way Looking East

Figure 2 was taken a few minutes later from Tegner Street looking south toward the intersection. Before the Bypass became operational it was common to see traffic backed-up beyond Bashas Plaza at this time of day, and the congestion always increased as the afternoon progressed.

Tegner Street
Figure 2, Looking South on Tegner

For those who have avoided the downtown area and its shops in the past, you can now experience a quiet, pedestrian friendly environment without diesel fumes!

On a more serious note, Figure 2 illustrates the one thing that local merchants have feared the most: that the Bypass will result in permanently lost business revenue. It is likely true that some folks have avoided downtown during the construction phase; but local residents have also limited their visitations to trips of necessity, such as shopping at Bashas Plaza. Frankly, traffic congestion and noise have long made the downtown an unpleasant place to spend discretionary time. Arguably, the Las Vegas-Phoenix traffic is doing what they always did – getting through Wickenburg as quickly as possible. They are just doing it via the Bypass now.

I prefer to think that the new Bypass has restored a pleasant atmosphere to the historic downtown. It is an ambience that no merchant could have achieved alone, and it is something that can attract visitors to linger. If you are a seasonal visitor to Wickenburg, demonstrate your support by visiting the local shops. Take a stroll, enjoy the area. Have a cup of coffee that doesn’t taste like diesel fumes. You will be pleasantly surprised by the change!

Last 5 posts by Allan Hall

3 comments to The Roundabout: Getting What You Wished For

  • Dan Schwimmer

    Allan,

    Being a year later side this article was written, what is the consensus on the bypass? I read an article in AZCentral recently where local merchants stated that they are really struggling, nt I am sure the economy is playing a role in that. Is Wickenburg a better place to live because of the bypass, or will the lack of traffic in town cause it’s financial demise? Your thoughts and others who live in Wickenburg would be greatly appreciated!!

    Best Regards,

    Dan

  • Allan

    Dan,
    I am not qualified to speak for Wickenburg’s business sector, but I read the article you have referenced. My inclination is to take that report’s numbers at face value. Overall, sales revenues and sales tax receipts were down in 2009, and that trend has continued (if not worsened) through 2010.

    Whether you are a resident or a visitor, I think everyone would agree it is easier to get around on Tegner Street these days and – unless you enjoyed diesel fumes and the noise from tractor-trailer rigs – the downtown area is a more pleasant place to be.

    To be honest, I do not know if anyone has conclusively demonstrated that bypass traffic has hurt any businesses other than the Circle K (at the corner of US-60 and US-93) and the Woody’s gas station on North Tegner. Perhaps a more objective test would be to examine sale tax receipts from businesses that are located away from the downtown area. For example, the Mobil gas station at Vulture Mine and US-93 would seemingly be unaffected by the bypass. Are their tax receipts down? If yes, then I would attribute it to the economy and not the bypass.

    Another measure might be to look at businesses on West Wickenburg Way, such as Safeway, Alco and CVS. These operations certainly do not depend upon bypass traffic. If their tax receipts are down for the year, I would again be inclined to blame it on the economy.

    In the final analysis, the Town of Wickenburg and our downtown merchants have known the bypass was coming for a long time. The aesthetic improvements on Tegner Street are nice but, by themselves, are they enough to make the Phoenix-Las Vegas crowd stop and get out of their cars? That is unlikely; their destination is not Wickenburg – it is some place else.

    If Wickenburg wants more sales revenue and taxes, its businesses and citizens need to do something to make our town a year around destination. Or, it needs to grow its population base. Or both…

    It would be great to hear what others are thinking about this issue.

  • Maria Langer

    Downtown certainly is quieter and it’s a lot easier to cross the street. But Wickenburg still lacks what’s needed to make it a destination. Until the decision-makers figure out to how market the town to visitors, it’ll be the same sleepy place it’s been for the past 8 to 12 years — sans traffic.

    Note to decision makers: it’ll take a lot more than pink sidewalks, tacky statues, and “Welcome to Historic Wickenburg” signs to make people want to come here.