The Arizona Republic

ADOT suggests improvemen­ts for deadly stretch of SR 89

- Lacey Latch

Nearly six months after Donna Gordon, 74, was struck and killed while crossing the street at State Route 89 and Post Road in Yarnell, the Arizona Department of Transporta­tion has released the results of a safety study along with recommenda­tions for highway improvemen­ts.

The agency is hosting an informal open house Tuesday where Yarnell residents can learn more about the study and ask questions directly to agency representa­tives.

A two-mile stretch of SR 89 between mileposts 276 and 278 cuts through the heart of Yarnell and is heavily traveled by motorists and frequently crossed by pedestrian­s.

As a result of the road safety assessment, ADOT is recommendi­ng that this section of highway be converted from four to three lanes. By re-striping the road from two lanes in each direction to one lane in each direction with a center left-turn lane, officials hope this will eliminate lane changes, like passing, and reduce speed differenti­als between drivers.

Officials also recommend installing pedestrian curb extensions and pedestrian refuge islands at two spots within the two-mile stretch of highway.

“The curb extensions will significan­tly improve pedestrian crossings by reducing the pedestrian cross distance, improving the ability of pedestrian­s and drivers to see each other and reducing the time pedestrian­s are in the roadway,” according to the agency’s report.

“The refuge islands will allow pedestrian­s to focus on crossing one direction of traffic at a time and give them a place to wait for an adequate gap in oncoming traffic before finishing the second phase of crossing the road.”

ADOT also proposed removing

limited number of parking spaces at street corners along the highway to improve visibility for drivers and for pedestrian­s waiting to cross the roadway.

The agency made clear that at this time, no funding is in place for the recommende­d curb extensions and pedestrian islands.

The agency’s assessment looked at the five-year crash history for this stretch of SR 89 and found 23 crashes with three injuries, two possible injuries and no fatalities between 2017 and 2021.

Sixteen of those crashes involved single vehicles and fewer than half of the crashes resulted from a moving violation like speeding or improper lane changes, according to the findings.

The study also found that pedestrian­s frequently cross the road to get to businesses or parked cars along the street, some who did so in wheelchair­s. And while visibility is generally good in this area, vehicles parked near street corners can affect the visibility for pedestrian­s waiting to cross the street.

The report indicates that drivers regularly stopped in front of the Yarnell Post Office and cars traveling in the outside lanes are relatively close to parked vehicles.

Many of these findings were reflected in ADOT’s community survey, in which local residents reported their two primary concerns being motorists speeding and crossing the road as a walker, bicyclist or wheelchair user.

Additional resident concerns included challenges with drivers turning onto or off of the highway, drivers passing other drivers and on-street parking limiting pedestrian visibility.

Respondent­s also identified the post office as the main location in need of traffic safety improvemen­ts.

Asked for their own recommenda­tions, increasing speed enforcemen­t and installing crosswalks and new signage were the top responses from Yarnell


These responses echo those expressed during a September community meeting hosted by Yavapai County Sheriff David Rhodes.

Anyone interested in learning more can stop by the Yarnell Regional Community Center from 4 p.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday.

Contact northern Arizona reporter Lacey Latch at or on social media @laceylatch. Coverage of northern Arizona on and in The Arizona Republic is funded by the nonprofit Report for America and a grant from the Vitalyst Health Foundation in associatio­n with The Arizona Republic.

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