By Bob Hembree
Lake Powell Chronicle
PAGE – Although Arizona Department of Transportation has provisions for proactive highway safety measures, it still boils down to a numbers game.
This week, ADOT provided the Chronicle with documents, including procedures, application steps and Arizona crash data for 2014-2018. This is the information that determines if an area qualifies for highway safety improvements. Qualification doesn’t assure action.
“The outcome of the meeting between ADOT and the city was that ADOT’s North Central District will submit a HSIP (Highway Safety Improvement Program) application to install a roundabout at the intersection of US 89 and North Lake Powell Boulevard as a long-term solution,” said Ryan Harding, ADOT spokesman. “In the meantime, the City of Page and ADOT are working together to identify short-term improvements.”
It’s not clear if, when and who pays for a temporary solution. Both state and city expressed willingness to foot the bill for the U.S. highway. After follow-up questions, Harding said, “signage is one of the options ADOT is looking at for short-term measures.”
It’s possible both city and state will finance separate short-term projects. If building a traffic circle is approved, it would likely include temporary measures in the package. The ADOT application deadline is seven months away, so it won’t be decided on until June 2020. Before this, the proposal will be discussed in several board meetings in Flagstaff and other Arizona cities. None of which are in Page. This means city representatives must travel to be heard. The more ADOT board meetings they attend, the more likely the squeak-wheel-gets-greased theory holds true.
The application for improvements factors in numbers, severity of injuries, and driver condition for accidents. It’s an extensive report based on the most recent five years of ADOT crash data. This is weighed against other applications throughout the state.
The money, mostly federal funds, is allocated based on level of need and cost effectiveness of proposed improvements. This gives areas with greater numbers of serious accidents and the most cost-effective solutions priority. With limited resources, need doesn’t assure funding. It’s competitive.
ADOT’s crash data illustrates what Page is up against. Last year, there were 127,086 accidents reported in Arizona: 1, 010 deaths and 53,397 injuries. In 2018, on the stretch of U.S. 89 between Horseshoe Bend and Glenn Canyon Dam, there were about 24 accidents reported: 16 injuries and 2 deaths. 2018 was the worst for the 4-mile stretch of U.S. 89.
Between 2014 and 2017, no deaths are shown in ADOT’s crash data within 500 feet of Page U.S. 89 intersections.
Five years of Arizona crash data show 609,098 accidents, 271,171 injuries and 4,631 deaths. Between 2014 and 2018 Page had 514 accidents, 212 injuries and 8 deaths. Page U.S. 89 intersections had 109 accidents, 59 injuries and 2 deaths—that’s roughly .018% of the accidents reported in Arizona.
The numbers may not appear promising, but one thing this reporter noticed while combing through spreadsheets, is numbers aren’t always accurate, things get left out, estimates are off. Numbers might not lie, but they can deceive—or worse yet, cost lives.