Students Evaluate Innovative Complete Streets Project in Tucson
In fall 2018, students in Arlie Adkins' Transportation Planning Class worked with the City of Tucson and Living Streets Alliance to transform a dangerous car-centric intersection north of Downtown Tucson into a pedestrian friendly community hub.
Living Streets Alliance (LSA) and the City of Tucson designed the new intersection configuration, which included the removal of unnecessary travel lanes and the addition of brightly painted pavement, street furniture, and potted plants demarcating new public space. Large planters and plastic bollards separate pedestrians and cyclists from traffic.
Arlie Adkins and his transportation planning students -- including students from urban planning, engineering, public health, regional development, and sustainable built environments -- designed an evaluation to measure the impacts of the project on safety. Student observations of the intersection before and after the project was implemented indicated a significant decrease in drivers who did not properly stop at the intersection (by not coming to a complete stop or stopping in the crosswalk), suggesting a safety benefit from the project.
The project, including the evaluation by Prof. Adkins and his students, was recently written up in the Asphalt Art Guide published by Bloomberg Philanthropies. The project and its inclusion in the Guide was also highlighted in an article in the Arizona Daily Star.
The intersection of 6th Avenue and 7th Streets, also known as the "Corbett Porch," is bordered to the north by several locally owned businesses and to the south by the Corbett building and the 6th Avenue underpass. The project area sits a few blocks west of 4th Avenue and is active throughout the week and frequented by pedestrians and cyclists. A Tugo bike sharing station sits just east of the intersection.
A grant from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) equipped the students with a variety of quantitative tools that provided them with a wide range of data. The equipment allowed them to measure air quality and pollution levels, sound levels, and vehicle speeds. The project installation was funded in part by an AARP Community Challenge Grant.
The project and the data gathered by the students will help inform future complete streets projects in the city, and will serve as a demonstration space to help Tucson residents and government officials envision what might be possible elsewhere. The intersection is slated to undergo some permanent changes in the near future as a result of the Downtown LINKS project, and LSA hopes the project will help engage the City of Tucson Department of Transportation in conversation about permanently adopting the features at the intersection that worked and were liked best.