Unusual, but so far not deadly

Florence’s unusual intersection of State Routes 287 and 79B was the location of a serious injury in the last five years, but no fatalities, according to a forthcoming study recommending several ways to make Pinal County’s roads and streets safer.

FLORENCE — Approximately $7 million in traffic safety projects in Pinal County have already qualified for federal funds as part of a multi-agency study to reduce accidents.

Study findings were presented July 31 at a public meeting at the Pinal County Administrative Complex in Florence. The final study report will be presented to the Pinal County Board of Supervisors and the Sun Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization in October. The final report will eventually be available online at scmpo.org.

The proposed projects include:

  • Center and edge-line rumble strips on 15 Pinal County roads, including Arizona Farms Road north of Florence, for a total of 73 miles.
  • Safety features on Hunt Highway between Gary and Bella Vista roads, and on Gantzel Road between Ocotillo and Combs roads in San Tan Valley.
  • A pedestrian hybrid beacon on Kings Ranch Road in Gold Canyon. Also called a HAWK beacon, this is a traffic signal that stays dark until a pedestrian pushes a button to slow and stop traffic so he or she may cross.

These projects are expected to be built in the next couple of years. Another $3.6 million in potential projects resulting from the study in future years include:

  • Left-turn lanes at State Route 87 and Kleck Road in Coolidge.
  • Completing sidewalks on Gantzel Road between Bella Vista Road and Rebecca Lane in San Tan Valley.
  • Stop signs surrounded by LED lights at 13 intersections in the Casa Grande, Coolidge and Eloy areas, and the Gila River Indian Community.
  • Streetlights on Apache Trail and Superstition Boulevard, and wider shoulders and rumble strips on Ironwood Drive, all in Apache Junction.

Four study committees met for the last 18 months on the key safety issues of enforcement, education, emergency response and engineering.

Almost 600 citizens highlighted hazardous areas on online maps. Most of these issues, 77%, were driver concerns, while 12% were pedestrian hazards and 11% were bicycle-related. The study will share these comments with cities and towns.

612 fatalities in a decade

In 530 fatal crashes in Pinal County from 2008 to 2017, 612 people died, consultant Mike Blankenship said at the July 31 meeting.

Florence had 895 total crashes. The biggest category was 257 single-vehicle accidents, typically a driver running off the road. There were 18 head-on collisions, four of which were fatal. Two rear-end crashes were fatal. In all, Florence had 13 traffic fatalities for the decade.

Florence’s unusual intersection of State Routes 287 and 79B — which the state is tentatively planning to correct with a double roundabout — was the scene of a serious injury in the last five years but no fatalities, Blankenship said.

The top causes for crashes resulting in serious injury or death in Pinal County, in order, were: lane departure; speeding, not wearing seat belts (or on a motorcycle or bicycle, not wearing a helmet), intersections, drivers under age 25 and impaired driving, the study concluded.

Sun Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization developed the safety plan in cooperation with Central Arizona Governments, Maricopa Association of Governments and Pinal County.

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Mark Cowling is the county reporter for PinalCentral and covers the town of Florence, San Tan Valley and the surrounding area. He can be reached at mcowling@pinalcentral.com.

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