Study suggests solutions for Pima County transportation woes

Published: Apr. 20, 2016 at 7:22 PM MST|Updated: Apr. 20, 2016 at 10:34 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Tucson area has a car-crash rate higher than the state average, which has local jurisdictions looking for ways to reduce the number of crashes.

The Pima Association of Governments has just released a draft report which contains 124 pages of information, charts and graphs which will determine trouble spots and ways to deal with them.

PDF: Click here to see the full study

One reason Tucson's rate is so high is because, unlike many communities, there is no freeway system. That means most trips must be made on surface streets with a lot of stop-and-go traffic caused by stoplights.

Inattention, being in a hurry or some other failure leads to a high number of collisions.

When drivers run red lights, the result can be catastrophic because of the speed involved.

Because Tucson likely will never have a freeway system, the intent is to make those intersections safer through education, enforcement or engineering.

"We're in the business of trying to save lives," said Paul Casertano, the transportation program manager for PAG. "We want to drive those crash numbers down."

The draft study will be final by summer when all local jurisdictions have had a chance to see, read and digest its contents. It points to places where problems might be solved by engineering. Others may be accomplished through education and/or enforcement.

The study does suggest roundabouts should be considered because they are known to reduce serious crashes.

Pima County has proposed a series of roundabouts and is going through the pubic process now.

Two years ago, a comprehensive state safety study completed by local governments said it did not provide enough detail to pinpoint problem areas in the Tucson valley.

This study goes much deeper into detail which is needed to determine which intersections, communities and jurisdictions need the quickest and most urgent attention.

Some engineering fixes have already been implemented in regional transportation plans but this will also determine where cheaper and more cost-efficient measures and education and enforcement may get better results.

"I don't think the money is as big of a challenge necessarily as much as understanding the details of the problem," Casertano said. "So we're working closely with the jurisdictions to clarify that understanding."

Putting the issue on paper is one thing but being able to offer real-time solutions goes beyond that.

"We don't want to have a plan for the sake of having a plan, point to it and say look at all the stuff we have in there," Casertano said.

The hope is to use the graphs and charts to achieve results.

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