For two years now, we’ve been working to get funding in the next Pima County Bond earmarked to provide much-needed pedestrian infrastructure improvements in our region. A little over a year ago, we submitted our proposal asking for $50 million to be included. That proposal was highly popular amongst the nearly 17,000 people who participated in a public survey that Pima County put out last summer. Our proposal ranked second highest in its category, and was even the #1 proposal in its category within central Tucson.
Since then, we’ve been going out into the community and soliciting feedback about how to improve the scope of our proposal. Below is a letter we just submitted to the Pima County Bond Advisory Committee regarding our refined proposal. It reflects what we’ve learned and how we’ve fine-tuned our approach since last spring:
Dear Mr. Hecker,
The following is an updated Bond Program proposed on behalf of the Board of Directors and staff of Living Streets Alliance regarding Pedestrian Safety and Walkability in our region.
Living Streets Alliance (LSA) is a local non-profit organization dedicated to expanding and improving transportation options in our region in reaction to the direct and indirect impacts that transportation and transportation infrastructure have on public health, the environment, the local economy, public safety, and the quality of life in our communities. Last year, we submitted a proposal for $50 million in designated funding for pedestrian capital improvements in our region. It received the second highest ranking (40.1% of votes) in its category (Public Health, Flood Control, Neighborhood Reinvestment and Government Facilities) in the online Bond Survey, second only to Pima County Animal Care Improvements, which has since been pulled as a stand-alone ballot measure. This makes Pedestrian Safety & Comfort the number one priority in its category across jurisdictions. While the need for pedestrian improvements within our region is staggering, we also acknowledge that there are many other worthy projects and programs proposed for the Bond, and have reduced our request to $25,000,000.
Over the past year, we have further refined our proposal to compliment existing programs, projects, and initiatives within our region. To ensure that our proposal is not a duplication of efforts, we met with numerous local leaders to identify how this proposal can most benefit our region. We have received excellent recommendations and encouragements. The major lessons we learned from this process and have incorporated into our proposal include:
- Work as a complementary program with Pima County Neighborhood Reinvestment to connect neighborhoods to community destinations and to maximize the positive impact of the bond on low-income residents
- Work as a complementary program with the RTA to connect to pedestrian facilities on arterial streets
- Connect safe, attractive pedestrian routes with transit and bus stops
- Enhance safety and attractiveness of pedestrian routes to neighborhood schools
- Use pedestrian infrastructure/districts to promote access to local business
- Maximize the potential for the pedestrian environment to promote walking to improve the health of our communities
- Focus on best practices and “complete streets”
- Include shade and sustainable landscapes
- Work with an interdisciplinary team of County staff that are responsible for implementation and disbursement of funds
In our region, the Neighborhood Reinvestment Program works at the neighborhood level, while the RTA works at the arterial level. We propose working at the “collector” level through this Pedestrian Bond. These three tiers combined will leverage the work of each and create a truly connected pedestrian network, as a key part of a multi-modal regional transportation system. This is a forward-looking and collaborative vision for the future of our region that has been expressed by a broad spectrum of voters. We urge the Pima County Bond Advisory Committee to include the reduced request of $25 million for capital pedestrian facilities in addition to the full funding of Neighborhood Reinvestment.
We envision this Pedestrian Safety and Comfort Program functioning in a similar manner to the County’s Neighborhood Reinvestment Program in which a set of concrete criteria will be used to select high quality pedestrian projects that are prioritized by each jurisdiction. Jurisdictions will be encouraged to consider the following set of criteria when selecting a project:
- Access – does the facility/project encourage or enable people to walk to access common destinations?
- Economic Development – is there a burgeoning cultural or business district that lacks quality public space?
- Quality Experience – does the project create a pleasant and comfortable pedestrian experience?
- Safety – does the project make it safer and easier for vulnerable populations to walk (children, seniors, those with limited mobility or without cars)?
- Expedience – are there any “shovel-ready” projects on the shelf? (i.e. have already gone through the design phase, but lack funding for implementation)
Pima Association of Governments is in the process of updating their Regional Pedestrian Plan. It is near completion and will likely be adopted by Regional Council later this year. The need for – and value of – designated funding for pedestrian capital improvements in Pima County is evident in the full Plan, which is currently available in draft form. I have attached two maps that clearly demonstrate the urgency for safety improvements as well as the potential for creating a walkable environment. It is essential to our quality of life in this region.
We look forward to presenting our proposal to you in greater detail on May 16th. Meantime, please feel free to contact me should you have any questions or need additional information.
Living Streets Alliance
Here are the two maps that we mentioned in the letter. (Please note: these maps have not been formally “approved” by regional council yet, thus they’re technically still “drafts”.) The first one shows the potential for walkability as well as the demand/need for pedestrian improvements in our region. The second map shows where pedestrian crashes have happened in 2005-2012. It’s important to note that last year, 2013, was one of our highest pedestrian fatality rates on record and these numbers are not reflected in this map.
Below is the final proposal that we submitted, in the format required by the BAC. We will be giving a formal presentation to the BAC on Friday, May 16th and we encourage as many of you as possible to attend and show your support for a walkable region. We’ll be handing out little neon pedestrian pins for you to wear, so please let us know if you can make it. Meantime, stay tuned — we’ll have more updates as the time gets closer.
2014 Bond Election Proposed Projects Template
Project Name: Pedestrian Safety and Walkability Improvements
Location: Pima County (all jurisdictions)
Scope: $25 million for pedestrian safety and walkability capital improvement projects to be allocated on a need-basis in Pima County member jurisdictions. (This is a reduction of our previous $50 million proposal. The reduction is based on extensive conversations with Pima County and other jurisdictions). Projects may include, but are not limited to: enhanced connections and crossings; continuous sidewalk networks; streetscape improvements; traffic calming; and green infrastructure. This program will focus on that pedestrian collector system that falls between the in-neighborhood pedestrian efforts of Neighborhood Reinvestment and arterial efforts of the RTA. In cooperation with these entities and the jurisdictions, it will focus on bringing pedestrians safely and comfortably to community destinations, such as schools, businesses, parks, community centers, libraries, and transit stops.
Each jurisdiction will be eligible to apply for funding by showing their commitment to developing a need-based pedestrian bond implementation plan within a larger long-term pedestrian plan that aligns with the goals and objectives outlined in the Pima Association of Governments (PAG) Regional Pedestrian Plan Update, which will be completed by Fall 2014. The projects will logically focus on the more urbanized areas of our community but with pilot projects in all jurisdictions, in all City of Tucson Wards, and in all Pima County Districts. The PAG plan will include specific indicators that measure progress toward desired outcomes in pedestrian infrastructure and safety and thus will provide a built-in evaluation for the implementation of this bond project. Living Streets Alliance will work with the County to convene a transparent oversight committee to review proposals from each jurisdiction and make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors based on each proposal’s demonstration of need and potential to fulfill the goals and objectives outlined in the PAG Plan.
Benefits: Walking is the most basic and equitable mode of transportation that exists; every person is a pedestrian at some point during their day. To increase the number of people walking, the distances being walked, and the diversity of trips made by foot, walking needs to be safe, comfortable and convenient. A walkable environment has the following benefits:
- Safety – a reduction in the terrible toll of injuries and deaths to pedestrians in our communities
- Transportation – reduced traffic congestion and increased efficiency/effectiveness of a multi-modal transportation system
- Health – reduced levels of obesity, heart disease, adult onset diabetes, and other illnesses resulting from sedentary lifestyle
- Equity and Diversity – increased access for people of all ages and abilities, including the 33% of the population that can not or does not drive an automobile at any given point in time
- Environment – improved air and water quality
- Climate Change – curbed urban heat island effect
- Economic Development – improved pedestrian connections to business districts to promote small scale, local economic development as well as increased “livability” which makes it nationally competitive as desirable place for major employers and venture start-ups
Costs: Currently undefined. The proposal process will necessitate that each jurisdiction quantify the monetary value of pedestrian improvements needed within their own jurisdiction.
Bond Funding: Twenty-five Million Dollars
Other Funding: Jurisdictions applying for funding will be required to provide a 2% match that will be designated toward implementing pedestrian education and awareness activities (which will be defined in their application). These activities would be designed to encourage Pima County residents to walk and utilize pedestrian capital improvement, and also educate pedestrians and drivers on pedestrian safety. Additionally, jurisdictions may leverage these funds to secure additional match funding through the Transportation Alternatives Program and other federal funding opportunities.
Fiscal Year Project Start and Finish Date: Start FY2016; End when all funding has been expended
Project Management Jurisdiction: Pima County Project Management Department will provide overall control of the project design, management, and construction procurement in cooperation (MOU’s) with each jurisdiction. Living Streets Alliance will provide overall project guidance and planning in a similar manner to the current efforts of Neighborhood Reinvestment.
Future Operating and Maintenance Costs: Each jurisdiction will assume responsibility for future Operation and Maintenance costs of improvements made within their jurisdiction and will be required to provide documentation of their existing O&M policies.
Regional Benefits: Benefits outlined above as they relate to pedestrian safety, the economy, public health and the environment are all on a regional level. Each trip made by Pima County residents begin and end with walking. Additionally, a truly multi-modal transportation network (which benefits and is used by the entire region) necessitates walking as a mode of transportation. A robust multi-modal transportation network alleviates traffic congestion for drivers and provides affordable alternative transportation options for non-drivers.