Popular route to Grand Canyon slated for improvement

Popular route to Grand Canyon slated for improvement

October 20, 2011

According to estimates, nearly 2.5 million vehicles pass through the very small town of Tusayan, Arizona each year…

So, where’s everybody going?

They're typically headed to one of the country’s biggest tourist destinations -- the Grand Canyon.

One of the main routes to the popular south entrance happens to be State Route 64, which takes motorists right through the middle of Tusayan (pop. 560).

The small town gets a lot of pedestrian and vehicle traffic and understandably there have been some concern related to all the activity on SR 64.

The roadway consists of four lanes and has one two-way left-turn lane. Hotels, restaurants and shops line the highway, which has no crosswalks or traffic signals. Pedestrians sometimes cross the highway at random locations, which has raised some of the concern.

After Tusayan officials asked ADOT to study the highway, it was concluded that making design changes would enhance the safety and appearance of the roadway.

ADOT is investing $4.1 million to widen the roadway in order to install a raised median, which will allow pedestrians to cross the street more safely.

In addition, two roundabout intersections will be constructed at the beginning and end of town and bus bays will be added.

The roadway improvements, aesthetic enhancements and new lighting are designed to create a more welcoming entrance to the community and encourage more people to stop and enjoy the community and the services it has to offer.

Town Manager Enrique Medina Ochoa believes the project could help his town.

“Studies that they’ve done have shown that the majority of the people going to the Grand Canyon will spend maybe 4.1-4.5 hours. Then they come out and maybe they’ll have lunch or breakfast or dinner there in Tusayan and see a few things,” he says in the video above. “We’re trying to change it so that people will be able to stay and I think the ADOT project, the enhancement beautification and safety project will really help.”

Construction began in July and the project is expected to wrap up by next summer.