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Safer streets near Tucson VA Hospital

City and VA team up to improve pedestrian safety
Posted at 7:45 PM, Jul 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-13 22:45:52-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - There are important changes to help keep veterans---and everyone--- safer at an intersection near Tucson’s Veterans Affairs Hospital complex. Transportation officials say it cost less than a thousand dollars and city leaders and the VA teamed up to make it happen.

In April, a car hit 59 year old Rebecca Labreque as she was crossing at the intersection of S. 6th Avenue and Veterans Boulevard. She died of her injuries about two weeks later.

Accidents like that led the VA system to ask the City of Tucson to improve safety at the intersection. Ward 5 Councilmember Richard Fimbres has made veterans a special priority. He understands veterans who risked their lives for our country may be especially vulnerable now and could be using wheelchairs or walkers to reach the hospital.

He says, “A lot of our veterans live around the area but don't actually stay in the hospital, but they use the services there for dialysis and everything else. So they have to come into the center so it's better for them.”

To make things better Councilmember Fimbres and the VA asked Tucson’s Department of Transportation and Mobility to look at the intersection. Transportation upgraded signals, to warn drivers away from entering a crosswalk while pedestrians are in it, added more visible crosswalks and adjusted walk lights to give pedestrians more time to cross.

Traffic engineer Blake Olofson says it all came together in just a few weeks and city workers enjoyed the feeling of really making a difference for the community.

The cost? Less than a thousand dollars to paint the crosswalks and the lights were re-used from another location.

He says, “So it really didn't have any cost to the taxpayers other than just the labor costs.”

Still to come---better bus shelters to give veterans a place to rest while they wait for a ride home.