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NAIPTA receives $200K planning grant to support Highway 180 congestion mitigation efforts

Don't park along highways to play in snow.

FLAGSTAFF, AZ (April 7, 2017) – On the heels of Coconino County Supervisor Art Babbott’s “Grappling with Gridlock” forum, the Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority (NAIPTA) was awarded a $200,000 Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) grant to develop an implementation plan for the Highway 180 corridor.

Supervisor Babbott, who also serves as the NAIPTA Board Chair, convened the “Grappling with Gridlock” forum on March 30 and the follow-up on April 6 to engage community members in coming up with long-term solutions to the snow-related traffic congestion on Highway 180. The forum started with the premise that as a community, we have already tried many of the low cost, “low hanging fruit” solutions. To mitigate the extreme gridlock on Highway 180, the community, agencies, and local government all must think and act on a bigger scale.

One of the solutions that has been tested the past two years is NAIPTA’s Mountain Express transit service to Arizona Snowbowl on key weekend days. Although the program grew year-over-year, serving more than 8,400 riders in the 2016-2017 season, there were many factors that prevented it from serving as a viable tool for preventing congestion on Highway 180.

The Implementation Plan will serve as a component of Supervisor Babbott’s overall Highway 180 congestion mitigation efforts. NAIPTA will bring together a group of stakeholders, including the ski and snowplay operators, Coconino County, City of Flagstaff, Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Forest Service, and residents, all of whom are critical to the success of this project. For transit to be successful in the Highway 180 corridor, coordination among stakeholders for items like parking/permit fees and enforcement is necessary, along with a broader and more robust service schedule.

“As the Grappling with Gridlock forums have shown, work is needed on many fronts when it comes to identifying viable solutions to a problem that is decades in the making,” said Supervisor Babbott. “The funding for this plan will complement the efforts of our dedicated group of residents and businesses, spelling out exactly how to make a difference in the current congestion levels.”

In addition to the enforcement and fee aspects, the final plan will also include the number of buses and riders needed to make an impact on congestion, routes and schedules, Park and Ride opportunities, strategies for incentivizing drivers to take the bus during peak times, and a pre/post traffic analysis to gauge success. There will be additional opportunities for public input as the Implementation Plan is developed. The ultimate goal is to apply for “demonstration” funds to actually implement the plan for the 2018-2019 winter season

NAIPTA is the transit agency in northern Arizona operating the Mountain Line, Mountain Lift and Mountain Link systems in Flagstaff. NAIPTA also coordinates services with Campus Shuttle Service at Northern Arizona University.