Sep 12, 2022 - News

Phoenix will spend millions of dollars to make streets safer

Illustration of a stop sign with a memorial wreath.
Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

The Phoenix City Council voted unanimously last week to adopt its Vision Zero Road Safety Action Plan, with the goal of zero traffic fatalities or serious injuries by 2050.

  • The council agreed to spend $10 million annually to enact the plan.

Why it matters: More than 230 people died on Phoenix streets last year, the most deaths in a single year in at least two decades, according to the city.

  • Phoenix is on track to surpass that number this year with 137 deaths as of the end of July.

State of play: By passing this plan, Phoenix has unlocked access to up to $37.5 million in federal funds available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law approved by Congress in 2021.

How it works: The plan includes street design and engineering changes, including adding more crosswalks, changing intersection signal timing and creating safer bike lanes.

  • It also calls for better education and enforcement to reduce speeding, red-light running and distracted or aggressive driving.

Flashback: In 2019, shortly after Mayor Kate Gallego was elected, she pushed the city to adopt a Vision Zero approach to road safety, but the council voted against it.

  • Yes, but: Several new council members, and a few with a change of heart, made her latest attempt successful.

What she's saying: "We are on the roadway to improvement. We're going to work hard to make sure this is a great city for pedestrians, bicyclists and people who travel by car," Gallego said at last week's meeting.

What's next: City staff is currently prioritizing road projects for the next year.

  • The city has set short-term goals, including a 25% reduction in deaths by 2027 and a 65% drop by 2035.
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