The sundog connector
No Place For a Road
Save the Dells started as the grassroots effort of Prescott-area residents committed to preserving the iconic Granite Dells landscape as permanently protected public open space to benefit our quality of life, our community, wildlife, and our economy. We think building this highway would compromise these goals and irreversibly damage the land and ecosystem of a unique regional landmark and its ecosystem. It would also degrade the quality of life of nearby residents and will not alleviate the traffic and safety situations as claimed.
The Sundog Connector would be a 100-foot-wide highway on the southern shoulder of Glassford Hill, proposed to connect Prescott Lakes Parkway near State Route 89 (SR89) in Prescott to State Route 69 (SR69) in Prescott Valley. Each of the two possible alternates for the roadway suggested most recently would pass through or near part of the expanding Granite Dells Regional Park and Preserve, compromising the natural experience and negatively impacting ecosystems and wildlife, including our greatly diminished local Pronghorn population. This new road would bypass important local Prescott and Tribal businesses and open more adjacent land to development.
Central Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (CYMPO) 2013 study recommends a population increase to 232,700, State Route 69 widening, traffic studies, and other improvements before the next steps toward the Sundog Corridor would advance. These benchmarks have not been met.
From this study, the recommended projected year to re-examine the route is 2032.
CYMPO acknowledged in the 2013 Sundog Connector Corridor Design Concept Report that responses from the public “suggested strong support for a ‘no-build’ alternative,” and there is mounting current opposition. We understand that a no-build alternative does not eliminate planning the Sundog Connector for a later date. Therefore, we oppose any plans for building any roads within the proposed Sundog Connector corridor now or in the future.
Why is this project still moving forward in the face of past and current public resistance?
DID YOU KNOW?
Safe Routes for Emergency Services are Attainable Without the Connector
State Route 69 is already planned to be expanded to six lanes, safety barriers plus signal improvements to reduce accidents and relieve congestion.
The public safety issue in Yavapai Hills can be solved by completing an 1100-foot road segment from Sharpshooter Way to Celia Street.
The Storm Ranch emergency access road into Storm Ranch should be completed via the existing Sundog Ranch Road.
Commercial development north of State Route 89A can be encouraged to alleviate the traffic burden to the south.
Constructing the Sundog Connector Highway is
Not Fiscally Responsible for Prescott
There is not any identified funding for the Connector. If funding became available, these monies should be funneled to SR69 improvements and never to build the Connector.
The cost of construction and maintenance of the remaining two miles (outside of developers’ responsibility) of the Sundog Connector Highway on the State Trust Lands would fall on the taxpayers.
The Sundog Connector would bypass an important City of Prescott and Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe economic corridor on SR69. Thirty percent of the City of Prescott’s tax revenue is generated in this corridor.
It Would Jeopardize Public Lands & Wildlife
The Sundog Connector would be a major barrier to safe wildlife movement and negatively impact ecosystems in the region.
Grassland bird, mammal, reptile, and plant species already under stress from other mass-grading and road-building in the region will further decline.
This highway would further isolate mammal populations decreasing their genetic diversity survivability rates.
Lighting of any type will wreak havoc on migrating bird populations and bat and insect populations.
It Would Reduce the Quality of Life for Yavapai Hills and Diamond Valley Residents
We agree that motorists living and driving this stretch of highway have safety concerns and experience delays getting out onto SR89 from roads that intersect it. Some experience slower-moving traffic during certain morning hours.
However, we think safety improvements can be made without widening the roadway through the Dells Narrows.
Minor changes, such as installing smart traffic lights and additional merge lanes could improve these intersections without widening or blasting any rocks.
The city needs to seek out and evaluate alternatives and compare them publicly with ecological, social, economic, cultural, and scenic aspects in mind.
It Would Jeopardize the Integrity of Parklands
Since 1997, the City of Prescott and the Town of Prescott Valley have been moving toward the protection of Glassford Hill.
In 2022, Prescott, Prescott Valley, and Yavapai County signed an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) to purchase Arizona State Trust Lands located on and around Glassford Hill that will add to the Granite Dells Regional Park and Preserve as the Glassford Dells area.
Any aspect of the Granite Dells Regional Park and Preserve, such as trailhead access, should not be used as a pretext for building a 100-foot-wide highway.
It Would Exacerbate Growth & Endangerment
of our Water Security
Transportation enhancements should be prioritized to the north where areas of population expansion are identified.
Potential developers might outbid the IGA entities for the purchase of some of this land.
Building the Connector would introduce the potential for the construction of an estimated 4,000 homes with associated water needs.
Scarring and mass-grading, which would be an ugly consequence of building the Connector and any related potential development, would damage ecosystems and viewscapes.
It Will Not Reduce Traffic Congestion as Predicted
Any projected improvement in travel time between Prescott and Prescott Valley would be temporary, soon negated by higher traffic on the Connector because of the potential development of lands on Glassford Hill.
Building the Connector would do nothing to relieve traffic on the most congested part of SR69 toward Prescott Valley.
SR69 problems cited as justification for the Connector can be addressed on that road by improved signal management, lane expansion, creative traffic management, frontage road crossings, and, of course, safe and well-designed wildlife corridors.