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Arizona program could cut delays, closures on freeways

PHOENIX — The Maricopa Association of Governments is teaming up with the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Arizona Department of Public Safety to try to improve accident response on Valley freeways, it was announced Wednesday.

They are starting a three-year pilot program that will place DPS officers inside of ADOT’s traffic information center to monitor more than 200 traffic cameras along freeways.

An officer may be able to determine what’s needed at an accident scene faster than ADOT workers and can get those involved help. A quick response may also lead to wrecks being cleared sooner.

Arizona established its program based on one used in Utah that greatly improved traffic flow.

Initial costs to ADOT were $450,000. The program will be co-funded by ADOT and MAG.

The new system could cut traffic delays by 33 percent and freeway closures by 25 percent. It could also cut down on secondary crashes.

“Secondary collisions account for about six percent of crashes on state highways, and one first responder is injured or killed almost monthly on Arizona roadways,” [DPS Director Robert Halliday told the MAG].

Despite the costs, the employer savings from preventing freeway closures could be substantial.

“The MAG analysis found that if you applied that reduction to a 36-mile segment of Interstate 10 over a one-year time period, it would equate to a savings of $6.6 million in lost productivity,” [MAG Chair Michael LeVault] said.

KTAR’s Bob McClay contributed to this report.