The Prescott Airport Connector project realigned and widened State Route (SR) 89A north of Prescott, AZ. The 4.5-mile, $25 million ($2013) project involved realigning a portion of the existing SR 89A and widening it to 4-lanes. The project’s primary motivation was to address existing capacity and safety issues on SR 69 and the existing SR 89A, provide an alternate east-west arterial for the Prescott area, and provide improved access to Prescott Municipal Airport.
Project Type:Connector Project Mode:Highway Average Annual Daily Traffic:29,832 Length (mi):4.50
Economic Distress:0.83 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):20 Population Growth Rate (%):4.30
Employment Growth Rate (%):2.65 Market Size:113,780 Airport Travel Distance: Topography:17
Region:Southwest State:AZ County:Yavapai County
City:Prescott Urban/Class Level:Metro Local Area:City N/A
Impact Area:Yavapai County Transportation System:N/A GIS Lat/Long:34.633436 / -112.392711
Initial Study Date:1999 Post Constr. Study Date:2006
Constr. Start Date:2000 Constr. End Date:2001
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): 2000 Planned Cost (YOE $):N/A
Actual Cost (YOE $):18,700,000 Actual Cost (curr $):25,046,000
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
Select a region to display the conditions for that region:
NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
|Income (in $M's)||9.32||12.46||21.78|
|Output (in $M's)||61.73||37.22||98.95|
The Prescott Airport Connector project was the first of three phases which realigned and widened State Route (SR) 89A north east of Prescott. The first phase cost $25 million ($2013), realigned 4.5 miles of the existing SR 89A, widening it to 4-lanes from 2-lanes, and re-directed a connection with Larry Caldwell Road from SR 89 to SR 89A. Access to Larry Caldwell Road was previously only available via SR 89. However, this connection was closed when a new interchange linking Larry Caldwell Road with SR 89A was constructed which improved connection to Prescott Municipal Airport, the only airport serving Yavapai County. The project’s primary motivation was to address existing capacity and safety issues on SR 69 and the existing SR 89A, provide an alternate east-west arterial for the Prescott area, and provide improved access to the airport. The completion of the project resulted in commercial and residential development and created 160 jobs in the office and warehouse sectors.
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
The Prescott Airport Connector project is located in Yavapai County, in the west-central portion of Arizona. It involved the realignment of a 4.5-mile section of SR 89A north east of Prescott, Arizona and widening the roadway to 4-lanes. SR 89A runs from SR 89 in Prescott north-east through Jerome, Cottonwood, and Sedona before terminating in Flagstaff, Arizona. The northern portion of SR 89A is known for its scenic character.
The project realigned direct access to the Prescott Municipal Airport (Ernest A. Love Field) via the existing Larry Caldwell Road. The airport serves all of Yavapai County, however most flights are training flights for nearby Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. The 2006 Prescott Airport Economic Impact study found that the airport is critical to the surrounding economy and major employers including Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the U.S. Forest Service critically depend on the airport for their operations. This study estimated over $25 million in business revenues were directly reliant on use of the airport. Yavapai Regional Transit has several bus lines connecting Prescott Valley, Chino Valley and Prescott that operate on this section of SR 89A (e.g. SR 89 to Glassford Hill Road) Monday through Friday.
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
In 1999, prior to the construction of the Prescott Airport Connector, employment in Prescott City was 17,133, which increased to 17,966 (+4.9%) after the project. The Prescott City population in 1999 was 35,053 and increased to 42,900 in 2006 (+22.4%); between 1999 and 2007 the per capita personal income in Prescott increased from $22,565 to $29,478 (+30.6%). Similarly, over these same time periods in Yavapai County, the population increased from 162,943 to 208,014 (+27.7%), employment increased from 66,598 to 96,022 (+44%), and per capita personal income increased from $21,042 to $28,995 (+38%). The state of Arizona experienced slightly less robust growth in terms of population and employment, with population increasing from 5,023,823 to 6,166,318 (+22.7%), employment increasing from 2,696,459 to 3,380,613 (+25%). However, per capita personal income at the state level increased from $24,785 to $34,705 (+40%), a higher rate than the City of Prescott or Yavapai County.
Historically, the area immediately surrounding the project was primarily used as ranchland or grazing land and portions of the corridor remain undeveloped. The primary industries in the corridor are education, tourism, service, and aerospace according to interviewees with the City of Prescott and Yavapai County. A 2006 study on the economic impact of Prescott Municipal Airport identified finance, insurance and real estate, construction, education, public administration, and manufacturing as the principal industries in Yavapai County. This document also cited a 2004 study conducted by the City of Prescott’s Economic Development Office which identified major employers in the region. These included Yavapai County, Yavapai Regional Medical Center, Veterans Administration Medical Center, Walmart, and the Prescott Unified School District. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the biggest employer in the area, is uniquely dependent upon access to the airport for flight training and education. In 2016, the largest industries in the Prescott Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and Yavapai County were trade, transportation and utilities (20% of total non-farm employment), education and health services (20% of total) and leisure and hospitality (15% of total) according to the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics also confirmed these three categories of industry supported most of employment in Prescott from 2000 through 2016. Trade, transportation and utilities accounted for approximately 20% of employment in 2000, 2006 and 2016. Education and Health increased over this period from 14% in 2000, to 15% in 2006, and then to 20% in 2016. Leisure and hospitality followed a similar pattern, slightly decreasing from 14% in 2000 to 13% in 2006, and then increasing to 15% in 2016.
The Prescott Airport Connector project was the first of three phases which realigned and widened State Route 89A through Prescott. The remaining two phases also focused on realignment and widening from Glassford Hill Road to Fain Road. This first phase of this project (the focus of this case study) started just south of the Prescott Municipal Airport (Ernest A. Love Field), replacing a portion of the existing SR 89A, shifting the alignment approximately 1 mile north of the original alignment. This realignment was intended to improve safety and speed on what was previously a winding, rural, 2-lane road that did not serve the community well, and improve connectivity by creating a loop around the Prescott area. The new roadway is 4 lanes and 4.5 miles, and reconnected to the existing SR 89A near the Glassford Hill Road interchange. A new interchange linking Larry Caldwell Road with SR 89A (including closing the connection with SR 89) was constructed which improved connection to the airport. The project was completed through a partnership between ADOT and Yavapai County. The total project cost was $25 million ($2013), with Yavapai County covering $12 million of the project costs. Construction of the project began in 2000 and was completed in 2001.
Prior to construction, SR 69 was the major east-west arterial in the area experiencing safety and capacity issues with increased use. The primary motivation for the realignment of 89A was to provide an additional east-west arterial to reduce strain on SR 69, accommodate future growth, improve safety, increase speeds, and improve access to the airport. The new alignment provided greater connectivity between the cities of Prescott Valley, Prescott, and Chino Valley and addressed future transportation needs by being designed to freeway standards to accommodate expansion to a limited-access highway.
4.1 Transportation Impacts
In 2007 the AADT of State Route 69 at its intersection with Fain Road, which also intersects SR 89A was 22,500, and the AADT of SR 89A at the intersection with Glassford Hill Road, the terminus of the Airport Connector phase, was 24,000. Traffic data from AZDOT prior to 2007 was not able to be gathered. The project increased overall connectivity for residents commuting into to Prescott, which is the major employment center of the region. This is an important improvement since most of Prescott’s workforce commutes in and out of the city limits.
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
Following the opening of the Prescott Airport Connector, there was some growth in residential and commercial development, however much of the area remains undeveloped. Residential developments along the corridor include Viewpoint and Granville, which opened after the completion of the project with a total of approximately 3,000 housing units. Several companies also located facilities in the area after the project completion including a new FedEx distribution center and office space for Cobham Aerospace, occupying over 66,000 square feet. These developments were determined to support 85 jobs for FedEx and 75 jobs for Cobham Aerospace for a total of 160 jobs. For both companies, proximity to the airport was the primary driver of location decision however improved connectivity to the region also played a role. Responses from interviewees indicated that connectivity to the airport provided by the SR 89A realignment has been used as a marketing tool by economic development professionals who highlight the improved ease of shipping goods as a value-added proposition.
The project achieved success in large part because it was championed by local and county administrators from the top-down. In 1995, the state of Arizona authorized counties to implement a 0.5% sales tax increase, which could be allocated as desired. Yavapai County chose to set this funding aside for regional road programs. This sales tax was the primary funding source for the project and subsequent phases of the 89A realignment. Interviewees suggested that without the dedicated funding source and high-level champions this project would not have been possible. Interviewees stated that no other specific economic development incentives or supporting policies were in place around this time. In addition, no other specific land use policies were pursued or additional infrastructure was developed to further support the project.
Organization, Name, Title
Central Yavapai Metropolitan Planning Organization, Chris Bridges, Administrator
Central Yavapai Metropolitan Planning Organization, Vincent Gallegos, Transportation & Mobility Planner
Yavapai County Government, Phil Bourdin, County Administrator
City of Prescott - Department of Economic Development, Wendy Bridges, Economic Development Coordinator
Case Study Developed by University of Maryland