Thursday, March 27, 2008

Beeline Landslide

Sometimes it takes a small disaster to recognize just how isolated Arizona cities really are. A recent landslide closed state route 87 (aka the Beeline Highway) between metro Phoenix and Payson. In order to get to Payson from Phoenix, you had to take and alternate route that added a good hour to the trip.

Businesses in the small towns along the route suffered almost complete shutdown without the traffic from Phoenix.

Payson is up on the Mogollan Rim, at nearly 5000 feet. To compare, Scottsdale is 1250 feet, and Phoenix is 1100 feet. Flagstaff is at 7000 feet. Arizona doesn't have a huge number of roads that go up the hill. It isn't like living back east. Once you get out of the big city, the little towns are very scattered with a lot of beautiful but difficult terrain in between.

Payson depends on Phoenix for business. This is especially true in the summer when we desert rats need a way to get out of the 115-degree heat. Believe me, 95 degrees is downright chilly by comparison.

You can see the same thing traveling west toward San Diego (our other summer escape a mere 6-hour drive). There's essentially nothing but saguaro cacti between Gila Bend and Yuma. Arizona is so dependent upon imports that the loss of one road cripples a mid-sized town.

Good news is they have one lane open now.

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