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Partial closure of scenic Arizona highway set

Associated Press Updated: March 4, 2014 at 3:46 pm 0

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A 3.5-mile stretch of a popular scenic northern Arizona highway is scheduled to be closed from late May to early July for repaving and other repairs.

The switchbacks portion of Highway 89A in the north end of Oak Creek Canyon between Sedona and Flagstaff will be closed from Memorial Day to July 4, the Arizona Daily Sun (http://bit.ly/1czeUkW ) reported.

There also could be single-lane closures of the narrow, twisty route before and after the full closure.

The Arizona Department of Transportation said the work has to be done during the summer when it's warm enough for paving. And safety concerns involving workers who'll be rappelling to remove debris by hand means the work can't be done only at night, the department said.

Travelers between Sedona and Flagstaff will have to divert via Interstate 17, adding at least 15 minutes to their drives.

Resorts in Oak Creek Canyon — a cool retreat for Arizona desert dwellers — get most of their summer business from points south, but many tourists take the highway to drive south to Sedona after visiting the Grand Canyon or travel to Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon on their way north.

Mary Garland, owner of the historic Garland's Lodge, said she's not thrilled about the planned closure.

"They've done road work before, but usually there would be at least one lane open and that itself would be difficult, but doable," she said.

ADOT considered a number of possibilities but didn't want to drag out the impact by doing single-lane closures, spokesman Dustin Krugel said.

"We understand there's going to be some impact, but we need to do some work and we want to make sure the roadways last," he said.

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