City creates task force to address growing pedestrian deaths
Reporter: Stephani Ruiz
TUSCON (KGUN9-TV) - The city is taking action in response to a growing number of pedestrians who have been struck by vehicles throughout Tucson.
Tucson now has a task force, comprised of several city departments, who will address the issue of pedestrian safety. The task force is focused on three goals- identifying key safety areas, educating motorists and pedestrians, and enforcing traffic laws.
In 2011, 25 people were seriously injured or killed while crossing the street or walking alongside it.
The most recent- a 13-year-old boy was hit and killed crossing at 22nd street near Randolph Way.
Nicholas Celaya was hit at a crosswalk on Lakeshore. After the accident, concerned residents told 9 On Your Side something needs to be done.
After hearing of the tragic incident, Councilman Steve Kozachik went straight to the City Department of Transportation. He asked them to install a pedestrian light at the crosswalk.
"When you've got six lanes of traffic going 40 miles an hour, you've got a regional park on one side and McDonald's and other retail on the other side, it strikes me that you're just asking for a bunch of foot trafic," Kozachik said.
Two traffic lights sandwich the crosswalk about a half mile apart. But Kozachik said that clearly wasn't enough.
"The code says that you can't have a signalized crosswalk within six hundred feet of another signal. I measured it off myself, this is about 1,300 feet from the closest signal on either side," Kozachik said.
Those pedestrian lights don't come cheap- about $125,000 to install. Worth it, many say, to stop the growing pedestrian deaths around town.
"This is an issue of the safety of the public in my opinion. So at that point you find the money. I'm not concerned about the budget not being able to absorb this. Certainly we spend more on less important things than public safety. This is a public safety issue," Kozachik said.
The city's task force chose seven locations for pedestrian lights. The Regional Transportation Authority will fund the installations over the next two years. They will be at the following locations-
- Swan/Third Street - 2012
- 22nd/Lakeshore Lane - 2012
- Speedway/10th Ave - 2012
- Broadway/Old Spanish Trail - 2012
- Stone Avenue/King Street - 2013
- Park Avenue/33rd Street - 2013
- Golf Links/La Paloma Academy - 2013