Pima County lays out next steps for $1.5 million federal grant to decrease traffic fatalities

Pima County and partner cities work to create comprehensive safety plan for the region
Pima County lays out next steps for $1.5 million federal grant to decrease traffic fatalities
Published: Feb. 5, 2023 at 12:26 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -Pima County is set to benefit from a $1.52 million grant given by the U.S. Department of Transportation in an effort to decrease the number of traffic related deaths in the region.

The grant comes as the county has seen a 50% increase in traffic fatalities between 2016-2020.

“We know we are seeing trends in the wrong direction, and we know we need to do something about it and that’s what we are trying to do with this grant,” said deputy director of Pima County Transportation Paul Casertano.

The grant is part of the “Safe Streets and Roads for All” program, an $800 million grant. It is aimed at improving roads at the local level and tackling national traffic fatalities.

The first step for the county now that the grant has been awarded, is to create a plan that examines traffic safety data more regularly.

“We want to understand the profile of crashes throughout the network a little bit better than we do now and also get to a clearer understanding of why these crashes are happening,” said Casertano.

Once the county has a better understanding of why these crashes are happening, they plan to seek community input. This interaction will be safety focused in an effort to create a “safety conscious” community.

“We can understand what the crash data will tell us, but it does not necessarily give us the perspective on what the user experience is out there,” said Casertano. “Where do the users of the transportation system feel unsafe. We need to know these things in order to figure out where to focus our energy.”

The county also plans to use this opportunity to create an equity analysis. They recognize in the past they have not done the best in addressing underserved communities.

Their future plan will ensure those communities understand that safety is not a privilege but a right.

The county plans to work closely with local cities and law enforcement. The City of Tucson will be worked with the closest as they are ranked 13th highest in the nation for pedestrian fatalities.

“I am really excited about this grant and Tucson’s partnership with the County,” said Tucson Department of Transportation city traffic engineer Blake Olofson. “We’re going to really have a chance to look into seeing, you know, more in detail, why this is happening and what we can actually do to mitigate it.”

Once a plan has been developed, the county and partner cities can begin implementation.

Casertano said this will most likely be through a combination of fixing infrastructure, education, enforcement and safety programs.

“We’re looking for opportunities to collaboratively address the safety issues that happen on the roadways that we own as well as the roadways owned by the city of Tucson and other jurisdictions throughout the community so that we can improve safety for all and get everyone home safely,” said Casertano.

The county expects it to take around 18-months before a comprehensive safety plan is in place.