In an effort to make the regional park safer for all visitors, the city of Tucson’s proposal for additional enforcement on “A” Mountain will likely come by May.
Ten to 12 park rangers, trained by the Tucson Police Department, will be able to cite people at multiple city parks, including "A" Mountain, the city says.
The Tucson City Council agreed unanimously in December to pass the program after 173 incidents were recorded from April 29 to Oct. 27, 2018, including shootings, burglaries, vehicle break-ins and collisions.
Councilwoman Regina Romero, whose Ward 1 includes the “A” Mountain area, said it will add value to the safety and security for park residents, tourists, neighbors and longtime residents throughout the city.
She added that it’s just one of the improvements made at the park over the past eight years. About $250,000 has gone to improving ramadas, parking and accessible trails to parts of the mountain for those with disabilities.
The city’s focus now is on possible additional safety measures suggested by the community. One of the possible changes is to create car-free half days or allow vehicles only on certain days of the week. In both alternatives, the gate to the mountain would be closed.
Community members have until April 30 to share their thoughts through a survey created by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department to understand how people use the area and to gauge interest in the changes.
There are also surveys ongoing at the park to get the opinions of motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists to share how they use the mountain.
It’ll take time, but once the data is collected, it will be compiled and presented to the City Council to consider any additional safety measures.
“I think the hardest conversation to have with the community is to make it into a kid-friendly multi-modal asset and park for the community,” Romero said.
On an average weekday, officials say about 256 cars take a trip up the mountain, growing to 441 vehicles on weekends. The highest vehicle volume occurs from late afternoon to sunset, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
During a speed study from Nov. 7 to Nov. 13, 2018, researchers found 20 percent of drivers went 35 to 50 mph within the park. Another 66 percent traveled 25 to 34 mph on the mountain road. The posted speed limit is 15 mph.
When the changes were presented to Romero, she envisioned at least one possibility.
“Do we have special events up there where it’s a car-free day on the mountain, bring your bike, bring your kiddos, bring your skateboard, and we’re all going to spend a day on ‘A’ Mountain and climb it up or ride it up,” Romero said. “So maybe once a year, twice a year, that would be a nice community event.”
For one resident, Beryl Baker, who’s lived in the area for 57 years, said shutting down the road shouldn’t happen.
“Say there’s elders, like myself, that can’t walk that distance anymore, we can’t access it,” Baker said. “You can’t do that to people that have disabilities or elders, that’s not fair. It’s an icon, a scene of the city.” She said the same goes for out-of-town visitors.
While a complete ban of vehicles is “off the table,” according to Romero, there is one concern that seems to be agreed on by a majority of people.
“What is it that we can do to make sure that when there is vehicle usage, that bicyclists and pedestrians are not in trouble?” Romero asked.
Down the road
I-10 restrictions at Pinal Air Park Road
Motorists traveling on Interstate 10 near Pinal Air Park Road will see overnight lane restrictions starting Monday night through Friday morning.
Crews will reduce the road to a single lane in each direction from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. for bridge deck work. A 14-foot vehicle-width restriction will be in place.
Motorists should use caution and watch for construction crews and equipment.
Overnight lane closures on State Route 86/Ajo Way
Ajo Way will be reduced to one lane in each direction between the Santa Cruz River Bridge and Holiday Isle Boulevard starting March 25.
Work lasts from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and will continue on Tuesday night.
On March 27, westbound Ajo will be closed for trench work and traffic-lane shifts. One lane of eastbound Ajo will remain open.
Residents living within the westbound closure will have access to their homes at all times using eastbound Ajo.
Drivers should use caution and watch for personnel in the area.