TUSAYAN, Ariz. - After a year of major road construction to minimize speeding through Tusayan, work is finally coming to a close.
The idea for the project was born in 2004-5. With safety for the community a leading concern, members of the community wished to try and provide some safety to State Route 64, which runs straight through Tusayan before entering the Grand Canyon National Park.
"Coconino County Supervisor Carl Taylor really spearheaded starting it with Arizona Department of Tourism and then it was myself, Ann Wren, Greg Bryan, Pete Shearer, and Brent Kok," local resident Clarinda Vail said. "We went through the plan maybe seven years ago. We asked what the options were for getting mainly crosswalks to be put in and more pedestrian studies. ADOT came in and did traffic studies off seasons and in season."
The results of the studies found the average speed of drivers greatly exceeded the designated zone, which sparked ADOT to agree to construct the highway project, and on July 18, 2011, construction on State Route (SR) 64 and enhancements along the roadway began.
Work on the road included widening the present five-lane divided highway to allow for raised center medians and bus pullouts. ADOT also constructed two roundabout intersections to bring down traffic speed, which are located at South Long Jim Loop and Coyote Lane.
"The finished product is so worth it," Vail said.
Road improvements included construction of new sidewalks, granite paths, decorative signage and landscaping.
Bus pullouts on the east side of the road are still being constructed in front of the Grand Hotel and in front of IMAX Theatre at the west side of town.
"They are designed and paid for by the National Park Service (NPS)," Tusayan Mayor Greg Bryan said. "Once they are constructed the town will own them. It's through a special grant by the highway commission and the NPS."
A final layer of asphalt to the roadway and final road striping will be added in about a month.
Part of the agreement with ADOT was that the town would take on the maintenance of the landscaped areas. Land Tech is the landscape contractor, and once they finish, they have a 365-day management warranty agreement with the town.
"It was a collaborative effort between ADOT, Fann Construction, and the community," Bryan said. "They really set out to make it as smooth as possible and they really tried to minimize the amount of disruption to the businesses during the summer months. That was a conscious thought."
According to Bryan, the project was projected to cost $5.8 million, but the budget was exceeded because of extra work needed on the roundabouts.