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Transportation

Friends of Flagstaff’s Future believes that alternative modes of transportation make for a more livable, healthy, and vibrant city. We support planning that prioritizes alternative transportation modes over traditional car-centric planning. We support the expansion of public transportation options and the building of additional infrastructure to support safe walking, biking, and other alternative forms of transportation that don't rely on vehicles. We support the overall reduction in single-occupancy vehicle commuting and a reduction in overall vehicle miles traveled.

F3 supports the use of electric buses by Mountain Line and the development of EV charging stations. We support increased frequency, additional and expanded bus routes, van pools, and other means to reduce the number of cars driving in Flagstaff. F3 strongly supports incentives for using alternative transportation, such as employer-provided and student bus passes.

Finally, F3 supports and advocates for infrastructure that prioritizes pedestrian and bicyclist safety through appropriate design, protected bike lanes, increased numbers of bike-ways, safe intersections, and secure bicycle parking.

 

Our Work within this Focus Area in 2022

F3 has worked to ensure consideration of multi-modal transportation (pedestrian & wheeled) values in intersection and street design. This has been a huge effort that required convincing the City to change the way they have approached road infrastructure design for decades, to one that no longer places the movement and speed of individual vehicles as the highest and best value. This change is necessary if Flagstaff plans to make the “Big Shift” away from single-occupant car use and meet the goals of our Carbon Neutrality Plan. Additional F3 work has focused on improving public transportation by working directly on two Mountain Line advisory committees.

Additional Details:

  • Active and sustained involvement in advocating to the City and the Transportation Commission for a smaller intersection at Lone Tree (LT) and Butler associated with the planned LT Overpass. Wrote multiple letters to Council as well as a letter to the editor about our concerns.
  • Sustained advocacy to Council and the Transportation Commission for narrower roads and intersections and the inclusion of Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) in road efficiency measurements rather than merely the car-centrist “Level of Service.”
  • Sustained support of “the big shift” away from individual vehicle travel to active transportation modes such as walking, biking, etc. and trails, bike lanes, protected intersections and connections to increase the ease and safety of travel. 
  • ED served on Mountain Line’s “Flagstaff in Motion” Community Advisory Committee (2021-2022).
  • ED appointed by City Council to serve as the city's community representative on the Mountain Line Transportation Advisory Committee for a three-year term.
  • Advocated for Council adoption of the Active Transportation Master Plan (ATMP), a detailed strategy for building and connecting multi-modal transportation infrastructure and increasing ease and safety of non-vehicle transportation.
  • Continued to advocate to Northern Arizona Healthcare (NAH), their subcontractors, and the City for a written commitment from NAH in the Development Agreement to ensure short- and long-term public transportation to the proposed new ambulatory center and hospital.
  • Advocated successfully for continued City commitment and study of the Beaver and Butler Bike Lane Pilot Project.
  • Advocated successfully for the inclusion of Z-crossings and high-intensity activated crosswalk signals at the Fourth/Cedar/Lockett round-about to increase pedestrian safety.
  • Advocated to Council for a smaller and less expensive intersection rather than a multi-land round-about at Beulah and University to provide a safer route for bicyclist and pedestrian crossings.

Letter to the Editor: F-cubed wants to clear the air over overpass issues (

In response to David Heyward’s Coconino Voices column of 1/28/22, I want to clarify that those who are concerned about building a safe intersection at the corner of the new Lone Tree overpass and Butler Avenue are not attempting to slow down or stop construction of the overpass itself. The input provided to the city from Friends of Flagstaff’s Future, for instance, has focused on ensuring that the goals of the Flagstaff Carbon Neutrality Plan are considered in the design, specifically the prioritizing of walking, biking, and public transit needs, and holding vehicle miles traveled to 2019 levels. F-cubed does not believe these issues were adequately considered in the initial intersection designs.

The safety of bicyclists and pedestrians must be considered, along with that of vehicles, and F-cubed has advocated for fewer lanes at this intersection, making it safer to navigate for those not traveling in vehicles.

As Flagstaff moves forward in its efforts to reduce carbon emissions, the ability to design for multi-modal transportation is beneficial for all residents. The conversations held thus far between the city’s engineers, their consultants, multiple city commissions and many members of the public about this intersection design are absolutely necessary to make Flagstaff more resilient into the future.

MICHELE JAMES

Executive Director, Friends of Flagstaff’s Future

Letter to the Editor: Transparency urged when considering hospital's possible relocation (

A letter to the Mayor and Council:

There has been much discussion within the community this summer about the proposed move of the hospital to the southern edge of Flagstaff’s city limits. This is a significant development issue that directly and indirectly affects much of the population of Flagstaff as well as the character of our community.

Two main issues deserve wide public input before any decisions are made about the relocation of the hospital:

What are the positive and negative impacts on the community of moving the hospital from a central location in town to a location at the outskirts of the city? And what will happen to the current hospital site on North Beaver Street? Both of these issues have enormous impact on the community as a whole and they deserve to be given thorough consideration.

Friends of Flagstaff’s Future, speaking on behalf of our hundreds of members, requests the Council ensure a transparent review process that includes robust community input. Among the many questions to be answered are:

— What are the opportunities, limitations and drawbacks to the community?

— What are the impacts on the city’s commitment to sustainability, smart growth and climate resilience?

— What is the plan for the current hospital site and how does that fit with our regional plan?

— What is the proposed timeline and how will it ensure adequate community input?

The community needs the process of evaluating the hospital relocation to proceed at a pace that will allow consideration of the above questions.

MICHELE JAMES

Executive Director, Friends of Flagstaff's Future

Letter from a F3 member:

“Rethinking the Lone Tree Road railroad overpass to reduce carbon emissions, promote biking and walking, and increase safety”  By Paul Beier.
Coconino Voices. Arizona Daily Sun, December 13, 2021

In the 2018 bond referendum (Propositions 419 and 420), I voted for the Lone Tree Corridor project, which includes a railroad overpass. On October 30 2021 I attended the City’s clear and helpful presentation on the preliminary design for one crucial part of the 2-mile long project, namely the 0.3-mile railroad overpass. Most disturbingly, I realized that as currently designed, the project will promote use of motor vehicles in Flagstaff, and thus will not support the Flagstaff Carbon Neutral Plan (scheduled for approval by Council on Dec 7). Our Carbon Neutral plan calls for a “big shift” away from motor vehicles. For public safety we do need a safe crossing structure, but if we want this project to be consistent with our Carbon Neutral commitment, and with our near-final Active Transportation Management Plan (our plan to promote walking and biking), big changes are needed. Fortunately, we are still early in the design, so we can make big changes. Here I provide several suggestions. I hope other residents and the design engineers will improve on these ideas. 

To reduce the impact on our Carbon emissions, and better support the Pedestrian and Bikeways Plan, there should be only one (not two) motor vehicles lanes in each direction. This will reduce costs, and could create space for a median to improve safety and facilitate snow removal. Unfortunately, at its October 19 meeting, City Council did not ask the City Manager to develop a design with fewer lanes. I implore City Council to request this at once. A reduced-lane design cannot possibly be part of the final design unless it immediately becomes an option in the preliminary design.

To promote use by pedestrians and bikes, the design should include windbreaks and partial overhead cover on the pedestrian-bike lanes, especially on the elevated sections where wind and weather can be severe for people on foot or bikes. New design features might enable snow removal equipment to get snow off the overpass entirely. I have no idea what these design features would look like, but the City has a fine team of engineers. Perhaps they can invent “snow chutes” that the world has not yet seen. It is crucial that snow removal equipment should not leave any snow in the pedestrian and bike lanes. If “snow chutes” can’t be built, then snow should be piled in a median between the motor vehicle lanes. The preliminary design already calls for low walls (concrete k-rails or jersey barriers) between the motor and non-motor lanes; engineers should upgrade these walls to minimize splash of traffic noise and water. 

The Lone Tree project approved in the 2018 bond election included redesigning Lone Tree Road all the way to I-40. Although the current plans address only the overpass, now is the time to start designing southern Lone Tree Road to promote safety and non-motorized travel. Specifically, Lone Tree Road from Butler to I-40 should have only one vehicle lane in each direction. Doubling up lanes always increases pedestrian fatalities – let’s not do that. 

In addition, every one of the 6 intersections on Lone Tree Road from Butler to I-40 should be a roundabout. An article in the New York Times on November 20 explained that roundabouts almost eliminate fatal accidents, substantially reduce vehicle emissions, avoid the cost and electric consumption of traffic lights, are friendlier to walkers and bikers, and make people in adjoining neighborhoods (like the people in my Brannen Homes neighborhood) feel that we are not subservient to through-traffic. To see this for yourself, go drive SR-179 from Tlaquepaque in Sedona to the village of Oak Creek and appreciate how well heavy traffic moves on this one-lane-each-way state highway. It is beautiful, friendly for bikes and walkers, and has exactly zero traffic lights along its 6.7 miles.

Finally, the design of southern Lone Tree Road should consider splitting Lone Tree Road from Woodland Drive southward past Pine Knoll Drive, with the southbound lane looping to the west of Kinsey School and the northbound lane along the current alignment. Kinsey School would be in the wide green island between the lanes, with safe pedestrian undercrossings for schoolkids. This idea might not be in the final design, but now is the time to think about creative ways to advance multiple goals. The City’s Lone Tree Road Corridor Final Report (March 2006) considered each alignment as a feasible option (see Figure A from that report below). My proposal tweaks that slightly by proposing one lane along each alignment.

The Lone Tree Road project may provide the best opportunity for Flagstaff to add a safe crossing of the rail lines. It also provides an opportunity to think wholistically about how the project can best advance our goals to eliminate carbon emissions, promote safety, and advance year-round non-motorized travel. In 2018 I pitched all these ideas to City capital improvements engineer Bret Petersen (who suddenly passed away last month – we will miss him) and he was excited to explore them. He was entirely upbeat about splitting the lanes around Kinsey School.

This is an exciting time to live in Flagstaff. In the last year our City has embarked on a 10-year housing plan, a plan to achieve carbon neutrality, a plan to advance pedestrian and bicycle transportation, and a proactive plan to shape development of 2,000 acres of private land in the southwest quarter of town. I thank City council for these initiatives, and our dedicated and underpaid city staff for moving them forward. But these broad plans can only be implemented in specific projects – such as this railroad overpass and the Lone Tree Road corridor. This is a job for all of us. To play your part, please email council@flagstaffaz.gov today. Ask them to design the Lone Tree Corridor to promote biking and walking, reduce carbon emissions, promote public safety, and promote equity among neighborhoods.

Paul Beier

Figure A from City’s Lone Tree Road Corridor Final Report (March 2006)

Important Transportation Links