/ Modified mar 12, 2021 3:06 p.m.

Tucson city budget town hall: infrastructure and mobility

Thursday night's town hall updated residents on various projects and surveyed attendees' priorities.

town hall transportation slide The City of Tucson had the first of four virtual town halls to discuss next year's budget Thursday, and it focussed on infrastructure and mobility projects. This slide shows how attendees would budget the money after city staff told them which projects were going to be expensive.
Screenshot from town hall meeting

The City of Tucson is preparing its budget for the next fiscal year, and it invited residents Thursday night to share what types of infrastructure and mobility projects they'd like to see prioritized in that budget.

This virtual town hall is one of four city officials have organized over the next month. Presenters spoke about streets and mass transit; IT infrastructure and smart technologies; and park infrastructure and mobility.

Diana Alarcon, the director of department of transportation and mobility for the city, said about 58% of Tucson's major streets are in poor or failed condition and discussed how the city will use $100 million to improve roads over five years, along with an additional $14 million for local streets. She also emphasized increasing safety for all modes of transportation — walking, biking, mass transit and driving.

She discussed mass transit, smart technologies, carbon neutrality, and answered residents' questions about local construction projects and how to request speed bumps in their neighborhoods.

Chief Information Officer Collin Boyce talked about smart city technologies like smart water meters, monitoring air pollution and smart parking.

He said the city is trying to fill digital divides by partnering with school districts, and that in the next phase of expansion the city will increase its wireless network to about 94 sq. miles.

"The really amazing thing is covering 94 sq. miles will be somewhere close to 70% of the city would be covered by our signal, helping us to reduce cost in the future," Boyce said.

Lara Hamwey, the director of Tucson Parks and Recreation, talked about how easy people can access parks and what neighbors don't have an outdoor space within a 10-minute walk from their homes. She and Alarcon discussed Prop. 407, which voters approved in 2018 to improve parks and mobility. Hamwey said 45 projects, like resurfacing basketball courts or installing playground shades, are complete.

Staffers also had attendees fill out a survey to rank their infrastructure and mobility priorities. The top three were to improve maintenance of existing roads and streets, expand options for biking and walking, and improve mass transit.

When asked to rank them again knowing which projects were the most expensive, the results stayed about the same, but improving safety along with parks jumped to the top, followed by road maintenance. Mayor Regina Romero discussed the results as they came in.

"If they have to split up a dollar, they want to put more of that dollar in parks throughout the city, as well as improve safety for all modes of transportation, and then the streets," Romero said.

Upcoming town halls:

  • Climate action and adaptation, March 20 at 10:30 a.m.
  • Community safety, March 27 at 10:30 a.m.
  • Resilient recovery, April 8, 5:30 p.m.

Registration links for the upcoming town halls are not available yet.

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