If you’re traveling to and from Cottonwood to Interstate 17 along State Route 260 this month, be aware: The Camp Verde Marshal’s Office is sending a clear message to slow down or pay the price.
According to Darby Martin, CVMO’s chief administrative assistant, CVMO deputies will ticket “all drivers caught speeding and committing other moving traffic violations along State Route 260.”
The primary goal of the enforcement is to get people to slow down in the construction zone. In the spring of this year, the Arizona Department of Transportation began its SR 260 improvement project, an 18-month effort that will turn the full 11-mile length of SR 260 between Cottonwood and Camp Verde into a modern, separated four-lane highway with seven roundabout intersections, including two that ADOT expects will accommodate future development.
The construction zone now extends nearly the full 9-mile length of the project, but as James Bramble, a resident engineer with ADOT in charge of managing the SR 260 improvement project, admitted this summer, many drivers disregard the reduced speed limit, putting commuters and construction crew members at risk.
“The enforcement is being prompted by several serious crashes that have occurred in the past weeks,” Martin said. “Speed was an element in several of the crashes along with other factors. [CVMO] has received many complaints of speed, as well as following too closely and passing in the no-passing zones and this operation will focus on drivers exhibiting those behaviors.
“The Marshal’s Office traffic unit will be out in unmarked cars and on a motorcycle as part of this operation and there will be zero tolerance. If a driver is stopped for speed or a moving violation they can expect to receive a citation.”
CVMO responded to the latest major crash in the construction zone on Nov. 12, when an individual crossed the center line and struck two vehicles head-on near the Cherry Road intersection. The vehicle struck contained two children who were hospitalized. Martin said that while the construction definitely complicates the variables impacting traffic, including accidents, the recent accidents are not necessarily construction related:
“That part of the highway has been notorious for some time .... We have to do something because of all the accidents happening. With all the extra traffic during December and the holidays, this operation is intended to make traveling the roads safe for drivers and passengers out shopping, visiting families and enjoying the scenery of the Verde Valley and Northern Arizona.”
According to Martin, the enforcement in December is not a fundamental change in practice: Stops are at the officer’s discretion and most cars traveling at safe speeds, even those slightly over the speed limit, will still not be ticketed. Instead, announcing a heightened awareness of speeding along SR 260 is another way for CVMO to alert drivers of the impact of unsafe driving during the busy holiday month.
“We’re just trying to get across to the citizens that, more so than ever, we’re going to be looking for speed,” Martin said. “When you know we’re around, you’re definitely going to pay more attention [but] if you’re not going to take the advice of us to slow down now, you’re going to get a ticket.”