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Maricopa Association of Governments to Assess Safety at Some County Intersections

Thu June 30, 2011 - West Edition
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PHOENIX (AP) The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) is making safety assessments of some intersections throughout the county.

MAG is conducting 23 such assessments, including four in Buckeye and one each in Avondale and Litchfield Park.

Avondale officials hope a road safety examination at Dysart and McDowell roads will show additional ways to improve the intersection.

“We track our collision information on a regular basis and that intersection consistently comes up as one of the highest in Avondale,” city assistant traffic engineer Margaret Boone-Pixley told The Arizona Republic.

A team of traffic engineers, law enforcement officials, roadway design experts, city officials and experts in predicting people’s reactions will examine safety at the intersections and recommend improvements, said Sarath Joshua, MAG safety program manager.

Such suggestions could be adding a left-turn arrow, adjusting signal timing or increasing lane-marking visibility.

MAG will begin the assessments in the fall and expects to complete them by June 2012, he said. It has nearly $400,000 available to conduct them and will work with the Arizona Department of Transportation, which has done similar intersection safety examinations.

MAG analyzed ADOT crash data from 2006 through 2008 and ranked more than 17,000 regional intersections based on crash frequency, severity, types and rate, Joshua said. Intersections with no crashes were not ranked.

More than 60,000 crashes occur each year in the county. About half are at intersections and result in nearly 30,000 fatalities and injuries, according to MAG.

Cities already are making improvements to the top 100 intersections in MAG’s ranking, but the group decided to conduct the road safety assessments to address issues at intersections.

“We are trying to improve safety at these intersections where we have seen a large number of crashes,”’ Joshua said.

The intersections chosen for the road safety assessments are not the top 23 intersections in MAG’s ranking, but rather the intersections cities asked the group to examine.

Boone-Pixley said Avondale is developing construction plans to improve safety at the Dysart and McDowell intersection, including dual left-turn lanes and extending the medians, but the city asked MAG to do its own assessment of the intersection to get fresh input, she said.

“We track collision data, and we know what we see at the intersection. But sometimes it’s good to get a group of professionals and law enforcement to come out and take a look to see if there’s something new that they see that we’re not looking at,” Boone-Pixley said.

She said they will incorporate the assessment recommendations into their construction plans. The city plans to begin the design process in 2013 and start construction July 2014.

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