Residents and city officials are continuing efforts to make Sentinel Peak Road, the road up “A” Mountain, safer after 173 incidents were reported to police within a six-month period last year.
The city has installed two new 15 mph speed-limit signs and repaired speed bumps on the mountain, but residents expect more additions to come from a list of over 30 safety recommendations.
A safety review team created the assessment after studying Sentinel Peak Road and speaking with residents and users. From that assessment came the list of recommendations, which included law enforcement patrols and possible restrictions of motor vehicles on the mountain.
“My neighbors and I are in favor of some restrictions, but we don’t have an exact plan for how that should occur,” said Michael Chihak, a neighborhood resident who has been advocating for safety changes. “We think there are a number of good ideas, one being to close it down for one or two days a week completely to motor vehicles, another being to open the gates later or perhaps close them earlier.”
The full safety list was published by Tucson Councilman Steve Kozachik in a newsletter in early January. “It is narrow for a multi-use path, and it’s inadequate given the current allowed speeds and road conditions. Those factors, along with access management, are under review,” Kozachik said.
Residents hope to have a consensus on a list for Tucson City Council to act on by March.
- The short-term goals include installing additional signs apprising motorists of the appropriate speed limits, signs to show “one-way roads” and “do not enter” areas. Crews would add directional exit signs for motorists in the top parking lot.
- Among the eight mid-term goals for completion in one to three years is the adding of flexible delineators to direct motorist heading down the mountain, considerations for a guard rail and the installation of “creative” warning signs for bicyclists and pedestrians.
- The long-term, three-year goals include mumble strips between speed bumps, creating 10-foot-wide lanes for maximum shoulder space, possible road closures and added lights in the top parking lot to help with crime reduction.
“Those speed-limit signs are just the first step, and we know that people just don’t look at a sign and say ‘OK, I’m going to go 15 miles per hour now,’ we need other measures and we talked about mumble strips on the road. I think that could catch drivers’ attention,” Chihak said.
The continued urgency from residents seeking safety improvements only increased after 73-year-old cyclist Richard Ellwanger was struck and killed by an allegedly drunk driver going the wrong way in October.
That urgency includes the need for police patrols.
City officials are working with the Tucson Police Department to train at least 10 people whose work could mirror that of a park ranger within Tucson parks.
Tucson police say the 173 incidents reported in the six-month period included break-ins, collisions and shootings.
“It isn’t a surprise, I myself have called the police probably half a dozen or more times in the last year or two because we’ve heard gunshots, or we’ve seen speeding or drag-racing vehicles on the mountain,” Chihak said.
“I think that (police) presence with uniforms or official vehicles would do a lot to control the nefarious activity and general issues with traffic on the mountain.”
Tucson transit survey to help make service improvements
The city of Tucson will be conducting five-minute surveys aboard all Tucson transit services, including the Sun Shuttle and Sun Express, to gauge passengers’ travel behaviors through March.
The goal is to understand how services are used throughout Tucson. The data will be used to make improvements.
Passengers can identify surveyors by looking for people wearing blue vests and I.D. badges.