Road Runner: Tucson gets millions in federal grants for new or improved traffic signals

2020-04-21 | The Arizona Daily Star

April 20-- Apr. 20--An influx of federal grant money is set to provide 10 more pedestrian traffic lights and upgraded traffic signals around town, transportation officials say.

Last week, the Tucson Department of Transportation and Mobility was awarded a $7.8 million Highway Safety Improvement Program grant intended to "significantly reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads," the department said.

Officials said $3.22 million was awarded to put the High Intensity Activated Crosswalks in the following locations:

South 12th Avenue and West District Street; East 36th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way; West Fort Lowell Road and North Balboa Avenue; East Grant Road and North Edith Boulevard; East Irvington Road and South First Avenue; North Kolb Road and East Rosewood Street; South Swan Road and East Cecelia Street; West Wetmore Road and North Neffson Drive; East Speedway Boulevard and North Sahuara Avenue; and West Silverlake Road and South Cottonwood Lane.

The HAWK lights are traffic signals between intersections that stop traffic so pedestrians can cross. The Federal Highway Administration said upwards of 97% of drivers stop when the signals are activated.

The improvements are scheduled for fall 2023. The department used other means, such as the Regional Transportation Authority, to add the most recent HAWK at the intersection of East Speedway and North Richey Boulevard earlier this year.

Contractors will install 62 flashing yellow arrow signals citywide, including at East Broadway and North Alvernon Way, South Park Avenue and East Irvington Road, as well as South Craycroft and East Golf Links roads.

The department says the flashing yellow lights, which work as a caution light, are better for pedestrians as it allows them to "cross busy streets safely because left-turning vehicles are prohibited from turning on a red arrow."

The project list also includes five miles of street lighting. Three miles will go along Country Club Road between Grant Road and 22nd Street and two miles of Nogales Highway between Drexel to Los Reales roads. These projects will cost nearly $3 million.

The federal grants "are in addition to our ongoing efforts, which we plan to continue in the meantime. For example, we program 10-12 flashing yellow, protected left signal upgrades each year," said Diana Alarcon, the department's director, in a statement. Still, the extra "funds give us a big boost toward what we can accomplish long term."

In the immediate future, the department will see a portion of $44.3 million Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act aide from the federal government to support its transit operation. It'll maintain services, such as Sun Tran buses, during the pandemic.

The funding will be used for operations, including "the purchase of personal protective equipment, as well as paying the administrative leave of operations personnel due to reductions in service," according to a U.S. Department of Transportation news release.

"All transit providers, including those in large urban areas, can now use federal funds for emergency-related capital and operating expenses. This includes enhanced cleaning and sanitizing of trains, buses and stations," federal officials said.

Alarcon said her department will be able to address all of the city's concerns after completing its 15-month transportation and mobility master plan called Move Tucson that launched in February.

"Move Tucson is currently underway to provide us with long-range transportation planning for Tucson," Alarcon said. "The outcome of this effort will determine our future needs that will guide us to apply for future funding opportunities such as grants or stimulus funding."

Down the Road

Portion of Broadway to close this week: Crews are closing both directions of Broadway at Fremont Avenue this week as the improvement project continues.

Westbound Broadway will be closed from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. on Monday and eastbound Broadway will be closed for seven days, through Monday, April 27, due to installation of a sewer system.

Closures planned for I-19 between I-10, Irvington: On Monday, southbound Interstate 19 will be closed between the Interstate 10, I-19 junction and Irvington Road.

Crews will work from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. to complete paving work.

Motorists should use westbound Silverlake Road to southbound Mission Road to Irvington Road, and southbound Sixth Avenue or Park Avenue to Irvington Road as alternate routes.

From Tuesday through Friday, the southbound left lane of I-19 will be closed. Crews will also work from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Monthslong road repair work in Pima County: Beginning Monday through June 16, crews will work on the following Pima County road projects:

-- Snyder Road between Valle and Hidden Valley roads.

-- Rudasill Road between Oracle Road and First Avenue. This will start on April 23.

-- Shannon Road between National Drive and Overton Road and Country Hill Drive to National Drive starting April 30.

The projects involve installing traffic controls, utility work, milling, repaving, and temporary and final striping work.

Crews will work from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Contact Star reporter Shaq Davis at 573-4218 or

On Twitter: @ShaqDavis1

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