Originally posted 19 Jan 2010
SR89A Pedestrian Safety Committee Panel Options…June 2008
Much misinformation is being stated by some candidates and some members of Sedona’s Community about the history of the SR89A lights.
Perhaps this memo from then-City-Manager, Eric Levitt will help dispel many rumors and candidate quotes:
Notice in #6 that Cliff Oshcer did NOT agree with the panel recommendation prior to the final draft and as noted further down, resigned from the committee before the final draft. SedonaFacts asks the question: Did Mr. Oshcer have an interest other than for the City of Sedona by his participation on the Safety Committee Panel? Mr. Oshcer has also “resigned” from IDSA, 2 days after a lengthy article in a local newspaper about he being the president of the local section of IDSA and that no Dark Sky designation could be granted without the section approval …Why be so certain that Sedona could not do Dark Sky without him on one day, and resign 2 days later? Is it possible that Mr. Oshcer may have overstated his importance? Is it also possible that Mr. Oshcer resigned for reasons OTHER than to devote his time to helping certain candidates get elected to the City Council or position of Mayor? 2 days… Did Mr. Oshcer speak for IDA?…or himself as the owner of Evening Sky Tours?
Ask Mr. Ochser why he resigned…
This is part of the email from John Harper, ADOT, to the City of Sedona in response to the City’s letter:
“…A smaller section of SR89A will have continuous lighting. This lighting will be associated with the traffic signal which will be installed at Andante. The remainder of SR89A in West Sedona in the study area, on either side of this lighted section, will be subject to the installation of a median, median barrier or pedestrian barriers. These will be specifically designed to channelize pedestrians to organized crossings, which will be signalized, marked, and lighted.
ADOt is agreeing to this compromise solution only if the median and pedestrian barriers are included for the remainer of the study area…”
Sedona does not have funds to build medians, etc. The same people who don’t want lights made it abundantly clear at the KSB candidate forum that the City of Sedona was spending beyond its means and needed to live within a budget.
Have a beautiful Sedona day!
18 Jan 2010
This Memo explains the lighting panel’s inability to decide on a plan… remember that Cliff Oshcer had resigned in June… this is now August.
The issue still appears to be:
- liability on SR89A
- who can pay for what
- time for implementation
Have a dry, warm day… indoors
Email to City of Sedona from the International Dark Sky Association…
19 Dec 2009
While SedonaFacts does not publish comments, unless they are comments that cite verifiable information, we do read the comments and make a concerted effort to address issues that many Sedonans find confusing…such as information about the requirements of the International Dark Sky Association as it relates to any application by the City of Sedona. Rumors have been heard about Sedona that the continuous lighting of SR89A by ADOT would keep Sedona from being able to apply for the “Dark Sky” designation.
Timely is this email that was sent by IDSA to the City of Sedona, the Mayor, and the Councilors: From: Kim Patten [mailto:Kim@darksky.org]
Sent: Friday, December 18, 2009 2:30 PM
To: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; AWelsh@SedonaAZ.gov; AZelms@SedonaAZ.gov; CCARC@SedonaAZ.gov; TErnster@SedonaAZ.gov
Subject: International Dark Sky Community Dear Mayor and Council of the City of Sedona,
It has come to our attention that the debate over the lighting of State Route 89A is still under consideration by the Mayor and Council and that the concept of lighting this route may compromise the City of Sedona’s ability to become an International Dark Sky Community (IDSC) under the IDA certification process. I hope with all sincerity that this letter will assist in the decision making process.
First, it is important to state that the designation of the IDSC is not wholly interrelated to this particular lighting process. The requirements of the IDSC, which can be found on the Web site www.darksky.org/page/IDSPlaces, essentially mandate a comprehensive outdoor lighting code, examples of projects built under that code, retrofitting of grandfathered projects to meet the code, and a series of public participation programs to help educate the public on the values of environmentally responsible outdoor lighting practices. From this brief description, I believe it is clear that quality lighting projects can actually enhance the community’s ability to successfully apply for the IDSC.
That being said, the community must also evaluate the necessity of the municipal lighting project, i.e. whether or not the outdoor lighting is warranted. This is something that the IDSPlaces review committee cannot do as we do not have the appropriate knowledge of the particular communities, particularly on a project such as the lighting of SR 89A. For example, it would be easy for the committee to evaluate a community as having too much outdoor lighting in general, such as over lighting of streets, parking lots, floodlighting, etc.; however, in general, if particular projects are validated by the City Council, and it is apparent that the lighting is warranted, again, that lighting project, if completed using dark sky friendly lights, may actually contribute to the communities ability to apply to the IDSC.
International Dark Sky Association
Any project approved by Mayor and Council should first and foremost be warranted. This decision is one that only the city can make. Secondly, the lighting project should be dark sky friendly. That means that the fixtures selected should be full cutoff fixtures and using a lamp source that is 1) High Pressure Sodium or Low Pressure Sodium or 2) using a dimmable white light source limited in hours of use and dimmed at or near 11p.m. at the latest or 3) a hybrid white light/yellow light source where the amber source replaces the white light source at or near 11p.m. at the latest. When using white light sources it is important that they can be dimmed at later hours, or switched to yellow/amber light sources at later hours to help conserve energy and reduce the skyglow. Particularly with Sedona’s location near Flagstaff, Arizona and the multiple observatories of the area, it is important to note that blue-rich light sources contribute at a higher rate to skyglow and scatter.I hope that this email answers any questions that you may have regarding the IDSC program in relation to the City of Sedona and the lighting of 89A. At this time it is important to remind you that we cannot determine the appropriate lighting levels for your community or where you use light at night; however, we encourage you that if you do choose to light a project, you do so in an environmentally sensitive manor.
If I can answer any additional questions for you, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.
Thank you for your time and Happy Holidays.
Kim Patten, Programs Director & Public Affairs International Dark-Sky Associationkim@darksky.org 520-293-3198 Join IDA today: www.darksky.org
“To preserve and protect our nighttime environment and our heritage of dark skies through environmentally responsible outdoor lighting”
SedonaFacts is proud to give you a link to IDSA membership, which begins at $50. We have perused the information on IDSA’s website and think you will agree with their concern for the environment. The email from Kim Patten has gone a long way to dispel misinformation.
This blog post can be found on former Councilor Scagnelli’s blogsite.
Posted by: Nancy Scagnelli | January 26, 2010
In January of 2006, the 4th nighttime pedestrian fatality over a several year period occurred in West Sedona. A 26-year-old construction worker, on vacation in Arizona, made a stop in Sedona after visiting the Grand Canyon. He was spending the night at the Super 8 Motel when he decided to cross the street to the Circle K. The motorist that hit him was not speeding, nor at fault, but simply could not see the young man as he stood in the center lane waiting to cross the rest of the highway.
His parents had to come from Florida and take him off life support.
The City Council, under Mayor Susan Solomon, asked ADOT to address pedestrian safety concerns on the highway. The motorist was not speeding nor at fault in any of the accidents. Alcohol was a factor in 2 of the 4 accidents. The common thread in each fatality was that the motorist could not see the victim until just before impact.
Somewhat like the Greek myth, Pandora’s Box, once the box was open, and the information that ADOT compiled was out of the box, there was no putting those facts back in the box.
I will share more about the lighting project in the next few days.
Posted by: Nancy Scagnelli | January 31, 2010
At the request of the City, ADOT conducted a pedestrian crossing study of the west 89A corridor. The findings revealed that approximately 1,000 pedestrians and 200 bicyclists crossed the highway each day during daylight hours, and an unknown number at night, as it was too dark to count them. About 50% of the crossings occurred at signalized intersections, the rest at random locations.
That’s a lot of people.
The study recognized that even if a traffic signal were put in at Andante, there would continue to be areas of the highway between signals where pedestrians and bicyclists crossed. The conclusion was that the most reasonable approach to safety was to light the highway between Airport Rd and Dry Creek Rd. with dark sky compliant lighting.
At the June 12, 2007 Council meeting, Councilor Adams moved to accept the recommendations of ADOT to provide streetlights along the 89A corridor, and the motion passed 7-0. A few days later, he had a change of heart and asked for the decision to be reconsidered.
Apparently the leadership at KSB was not in favor of lights. What is interesting to note is the following, taken directly from the summary minutes of the council meeting of March 29, 2006, back when the discussion of lights all began:
Vice Mayor Strauch:
- Stated he is also a member of Keep Sedona Beautiful, and they have discussed the dark skies situation.
- Said he wants the public, media, and ADOT to understand that KSB will not have any problem whatsoever with lighting, nor do they think dark skies would be negatively affected by proper lighting.
So by June of 2007 the leadership and the opinion at KSB had changed, and a City Manager’s committee was formed to take another look at safety options along the highway.
Remember, the facts – the pedestrian study findings – were “out of the box” and had to be addressed. If not, ADOT and the City would be liable…
Posted by: Nancy Scagnelli | February 17, 2010
Sorry it has taken me so long to bring the lights saga up to the present, but I have been busy campaigning. Here it is:
After months of meeting, the Pedestrian Safety Committee came forward in the spring of 2008 with recommendations to address safety along 89A. ADOT agreed to the following compromise per an email from John Harper, Flagstaff district engineer, dated 4/15/08:
A smaller section of SR89A will have continuous lighting. This lighting will be associated with the traffic signal which will be installed at Andante. The remainder of SR89A in West Sedona in the study area, on either side of this lighted section, will be subject to the installation of a median, median barrier or pedestrian barriers. These will be specifically designed to channelize pedestrians to organized crossings, which will be signalized, marked and lighted.
ADOT is agreeing to this compromise solution only if the median and pedestrian barriers are included for the remainder of the study area. The idea is that median and pedestrian barriers should mitigate the potential nighttime pedestrian crossing issue in the segments without continuous roadway lighting. In the areas where there is no median or pedestrian barrier, these segments will have lighting.
At the City Council meeting on August 12, 2008 ADOT clarified that the City of Sedona would pay for the medians and barriers, and ADOT would pay for the areas with roadway lighting and a traffic signal at Andante. It was evident at that meeting that continuous medians would necessitate the City also building roundabouts to accommodate U-turns. Such a project would cost millions of dollars – somewhere between 10 and 20 million – and the City had no identified source of funding for the project. Because of such concerns, the council voted 4-2 to accept the bulk of the recommendations of the committee, but instead of City installed medians and barriers with the associated roundabouts, council directed ADOT to proceed with dark-sky compliant, fully shielded lights from Airport Road to Dry Creek Rd.
Remember, ADOT will pay for the lights and the City will only be responsible for any upgrade such as paint or a designer style of light fixture.
ADOT has been moving forward with design for the project. However, since a segment of the community continues to protest the lighting project, on January 28, 2010 ADOT sent a letter to the Mayor to further clarify their position, part of which I quote below:
ADOT believes that the optimum alternative for SR89A is installation of a “dark-sky” compliant continuous lighting system. If a lighting solution is not acceptable to the City, we will begin discussion with the City of Sedona to assume maintenance and operation of this portion of SR89A, thereby giving the city complete control of the alternatives to improve safety and reduce liability.
So, there you have it. Sedona has 2 options:
1.) Light the highway with dark-sky compliant lighting, similar to that at the “Y”, paid for by ADOT, or
2.) Take back the highway and assume all the responsibility, liability and cost.
Owning a highway is very, very expensive and to do so other programs and services would have to be eliminated, or the City would have to institute a property tax. Remember, too, the safety deficiencies on the roadway have been identified and the City would be liable if they are not addressed and mitigated.
Flagstaff is an International Dark Sky City, home to several observatories and has streetlights in its commercial district. Dark-sky compliant lights will not ruin our dark skies, but will make 89A safer for both motorists and pedestrians, and at a reasonable cost.
Sedona City council does not move forward with 89A takeback
On February 24 the Sedona city council discussed the possibility of taking back SR89A. It became obvious to the majority of the council that owning a highway was too expensive for Sedona to consider under the current conditions.
While ADOT would resurface the highway and make currently identified improvements to the road before handing it over to Sedona – at a cost of approximately $8 million to ADOT - the road would then belong to Sedona. In about 10 years we would at a minimum have to resurface the roadway at a cost of approximatley $3 million+ in today’s dollars. Those funds would have to come from somewhere in our budget. ADOT studies also indicate that the “Y” will function at a level F during busy times and whatever improvement would be needed there in the future would become the responsibility of Sedona.
Owning a highway can be very, very expensive and that is why a motion to continue to move forward with studying the possibility of a takeback, failed 2-5, with only the Mayor and Vice-Mayor voted in favor.
ADOT continues to make it clear that they will install the dark-sky compliant lighting project unless Sedona decides, within the next 6 months, to take back the highway. I can see a time in the future when the City will want to take back the roadway – most likely when we finally agree on a redevelopment plan for the corridor – and to do so we will need a dedicated funding source such as a property tax. That is somewhere in the future, but not now.
Posted by: Nancy Scagnelli | February 28, 2010
At the City Council meeting on February 24, the council approved the Monterey fixture, like those at the “Y” and Brewer roundabouts for a consistant look throughout Sedona. There will be 93 lights between Airport Rd. and Dry Creek Rd. The light fixtures will be 35′ tall with a 200 watt high pressure sodium bulb and be dark-sky compliant, fully shielded. (The Monterey fixtures at the “Y” are 30′ tall with a 250 watt bulb.)
There will be no cost to the City for the upgrade to the designer fixture – ADOT is picking up the cost. The project is slated to begin in the Fall and take approximatley 6 months to complete.
The Red Rock News article of Friday, February 26, had the style incorrect and they will be running a corrected article on Wednesday, March 3.