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Sheriff's Office

Press Conference Regarding Safety Concerns for Ironwood Road
Posted: 1/2/2014 12:00 AM

Today, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu held a press conference with County Attorney Lando Voyles and State Representatives Frank Pratt, T.J. Shope and Doug Coleman. The press conference was held just west of the intersection of Ironwood Road and Germann Road in San Tan Valley. They focused on the severe safety concerns for Pinal County residents and visitors who travel along Ironwood Road between San Tan Valley and Apache Junction. Ironwood Road is one of the most traveled roadways by the citizens of San Tan Valley to access metro Phoenix by way of the U.S. 60. Sheriff Babeu said, "Over the past four years this section of roadway has anywhere from 57-95 collisions. In the last four months alone, we have investigated four fatal roll-over accidents."

Fatal Ironwood Crashes 2013

Legislators spoke about their efforts to restore Highway User Revenue Fund (HURF) funding to local government in order to make necessary road and safety improvements. Currently, Pinal County is underfunded $1.3 million annually in HURF funding.

Representative Frank Pratt said, "We advocate for full restoration of HURF monies to counties and cities/towns and then for Pinal County to direct this additional money to make needed safety improvements to Ironwood Road."

Representative T.J. Shope said, "Serious and fatal collisions occur on this road that could be avoided if we construct emergency breakdown lanes and median divider."

Representative Doug Coleman said, "We encourage Gov. Brewer to fully fund DPS from the state's general fund and restore HURF monies to cities and counties; so much needed road improvements can be completed."

County Attorney Lando Voyles said, "This stretch of roadway was never designed for this volume of traffic and needs immediate safety improvements." Aggressive traffic enforcement by our Traffic Unit has a limited ability to mitigate safety concerns, even with strict speed enforcement. The volume of traffic and the unsafe road conditions do not allow our deputies to perform traffic stops on this road without greatly impeding traffic and risking officer/public safety. Safety improvements needed:

  • Median divider of concrete jersey barriers or cable highway barriers between north and south traffic. Due to the level, long distance straight away and the high quality of the road surface, traffic often travels at excess speeds - sometimes 15-20 mph over the speed limit. This excess speed, combined with NO barrier between north/south traffic makes a head on collision more serious or fatal.
  • Break down lane or shoulder for north/south traffic that would not impede traffic flow, would allow for safe area to change a tire or enough space for a Deputy to perform a traffic stop.
  • Gradual slopes on the shoulders of the roadway. Currently, vehicles who pull off the asphalt surface meet a dangerous set of circumstances. Many vehicle roll as they attempt to return to the roadway, or have difficulty exited their vehicles. Additionally, the more common reason for disabled vehicles (flat tires) are not able to be changed safely due to an uneven surface and close proximity to oncoming traffic.

Currently, $115.6 million HURF revenue dollars are redirected to fund the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) every year. We encourage the legislature and Gov. Brewer to fully fund DPS from the state's general fund and restore HURF monies to counties; so much needed road improvements can be completed. We also encourage Pinal County Board of Supervisors and other county management to direct this additional money towards making the necessary safety improvements.

Highway User Revenue Fund (HURF)
The state of Arizona taxes motor fuels and collects a variety of fees and charges relating to the registration and operation of motor vehicles on the public highways of the state. These collections include gasoline and use-fuel taxes, motor-carrier taxes, vehicle-license taxes, motor vehicle registration fees and other miscellaneous fees. These revenues are deposited in the Arizona Highway User Revenue Fund (HURF) and are then distributed to the cities, towns and counties and to the State Highway Fund. These taxes represent a primary source of revenues available to the state for highway construction, improvements and other related expenses. 

Looking at the attached HURF funding allocations, you will be able to see the distribution of funding to counties and cities/towns.

Public Information Officer

Mark Clark

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