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The iconic Dells Narrows of SR89 is a uniquely scenic and historic approximately one-mile segment of highway through the rocky Dells and an important part of the Granite Dells experience. Currently, it is the only highway from which people can see this beauty up close from their cars.


With the current concept for widening the 2.5-mile highway segment from the Phippen to Watson Lake roundabouts, this scenic Narrows would become a sanitized five-lane highway and a damaged historic entrance into the southern area of Prescott. We’re calling this segment the “Dells Narrows.” It’s approximately one mile long. 


The City of Prescott is considering an opportunity to widen the Dells Narrows to a five-lane highway. 


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There are alternatives to widening.

Did You know?


Widening is Not Necessary

The only necessary component of the plan is to improve the effluent system as part of a centralization project. At the “close proximity” open house held on September 6, attendees were told by city spokespersons that the lines could be placed below the road shoulders with NO WIDENING NECESSARY.


City statements have greatly inflated wait times at intersections and the occurrence of congestion on the road. Our sampling and experience show that this section is handling traffic quite well except for an early morning half-hour commuter congestion that adds a minute and a half to the transit time.


The usage-rate projections into 2045 for this part of SR89 are debatable. With upcoming population growth to the north of Pioneer Parkway, there will be proportionate commercial development that will establish shopping opportunities there, thus reducing southbound traffic.

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Widening Through the Narrows is a Bad Idea

The iconic Dells Narrows of SR89 is a uniquely scenic and historic stretch of highway and an important part of the Granite Dells experience. With the current concept for widening, this scenic Narrows would become a sanitized five-lane expressway and a gravely damaged historic foyer into the City of Prescott.

The proposed concept will cost taxpayers a bunch. The amount stated at the June 27 study session in Table 35 is $8.6 million, but at the end of the study session at 1:26:50, in response to a question, Deputy Public Works Director Gwen Rowitsch says that they "have programmed in $26 million, with $11 million for wastewater centralization and $15 million for roadway."


Aside from the commuter constituency, the real beneficiaries of widening are developers that need to avoid the traffic impact obstacle to their future developments.

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There are Alternatives 

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 and evening 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.


City Transparency is Lacking

We object to the fast pace imposed on the public for this project. The concept was developed without any public input and did not include any alternatives to widening or discussions about alternatives.


We want the Prescott decision-makers to put our future first, listen to community concerns, and commit to working toward a shared vision of this road without compromising our quality of life and the unique features of our city.


Any proposed actions need to be supported by experts in these areas and include serious analysis and cited research. The council shouldn’t accept recommendations without this process and a full public review before a set of realistic options is presented.

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The Bottom Line

We suggest the City of Prescott Leadership recognize that overwhelmingly its citizens do not want a five-lane expressway through the Dells. Widening is not necessary to accomplish the wastewater upgrades, doubling traffic capacity is currently unnecessary, and it is doubtful it is needed for the future.


Blasting our scenic two-lane entrance to Prescott and the Dells into an expressway would be an irreversible disaster that wouldn't benefit Prescottonians, but the loss would be at their expense. Centralization and traffic safety concerns can readily be accomplished without widening.

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Enjoy the View!

This portion of SR89 is part of the Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial Highway and part of Historic 89, once the main Arizona north-south route from border to border.


What makes US 89 so unique is that for most of its nearly 2,000 miles, it is a two-lane road. That means it is a “slow road” that keeps you close to the scenery providing ample opportunities to stop and experience the best America has to offer. In fact, it’s so much fun to drive that National Geographic named it the #1 Drivers’ Drive in the world. See our full position statement for details..

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