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PAG begins update to its long-range transportation plan

As the federally designated metropolitan planning organization, Pima Association of Governments (PAG) is required to update its long-range transportation plan every four years.

PAG announced in January that it is beginning an update to the 2045 Regional Mobility and Accessibility Plan (2045 RMAP) to meet the 2020 deadline.

“Since the current plan involved an extensive multi-year planning process and is not expected to change considerably, the update will build upon existing goals, performance measures and targets that were established during development of the 2045 RMAP,” said Farhad Moghimi, PAG Executive Director.

The first phase of the update includes a review of population, employment and land use projections, as well as project cost estimates in order to revise the numbers as needed. Other phases will include identification of transportation needs and prioritization of projects, determination of funding estimates, public input, committee review and recommendations to the PAG Regional Council for final adoption.

Once all the projects are identified for the 2045 RMAP update, potential projects that will be considered for a continuation of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) plan will be reviewed by a citizens committee and technical committee. Their review will be in preparation for future development of a draft continuation plan for ultimate RTA Board and voter approval. 

RTA safety projects top 500, expand mode options

Photo of new signalized pedestrian crossing on North Oracle Road



Signalized pedestrian crossings, such as this one recently completed on North Oracle Road just north of Las Lomitas Road, are an example of the many safety features that are incorporated into RTA projects. 

When you think about Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) projects across the region, roads and bridges may come to mind, but the RTA is so much more. It’s also about transit, bike lanes and sidewalks. Safety is the common thread in all RTA projects.

When voters approved the RTA plan in 2006, they said yes to increasing safety in our region and the need for these multimodal projects. Safety projects include intersection improvements, sidewalks, bus pullouts and signalized pedestrian crossings. The RTA has made more than 500 safety improvements in the region since plan implementation.

If you drive on North Oracle Road, you will notice the newest additions to the RTA safety project list. The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) just completed an RTA-funded bus pullout and signalized pedestrian crossing at Oracle Road and Las Lomitas Road, the site of multiple pedestrian fatalities.

The crossing, coupled with a new bus pullout on northbound Oracle Road, will allow transit passengers and others the opportunity to safely cross the roadway to get to homes and businesses on the west side of Oracle Road.

Pima Association of Governments Deputy Director Jim DeGrood said, “The safety of this section of roadway has been a long-term issue in the region. It is one of the busiest commercial corridors in the region that is also loaded with multi-family housing. Before this project came online, your only option to cross the road was to walk uphill in a ditch to reach a signalized pedestrian crossing at the intersection.”

As regional partners, the RTA and ADOT worked together to complete the project.

Teen Leadership Conference draws nearly 200 students

Nearly 200 teens from high schools across the region met at the University of Arizona Student Union Grand Ballroom on Jan. 12 to discover their leadership skills during Pima Association of Governments’ first Teen Leadership Conference.

Highlights included student participation in a transportation challenge activity where students were asked to identify the benefits and risks of having driverless cars in our future.

Among the benefits they cited were:

  • Less sleep deprivation
  • Better vehicle mileage
  • Engineering jobs
  • Efficient routing

Among the risks they cited were:

  • Money and production value
  • Could be hacked
  • Technology failure
  • Expensive to rep

They also had the opportunity to meet with 30 community leaders during a career round table discussion where they learned about careers in the fields of health care, law enforcement, the media, government, finance, transportation engineering, education, the military and more.

Motivational speaker Julia Garcia, founder and CEO of The Rewrite Project, got the students to their feet to demonstrate how they have more similar experiences than may seem obvious. She encouraged students to rewrite or write their future to start being the persons they want to be in life.

2017 PAG Regional Council Chair Satish Hiremath and 2017 Regional Transportation Authority Board Chair Tom Murphy welcomed the students and encouraged them to get involved in their communities. Pima County School Superintendent Dustin Williams served as the emcee.

Event planning included support from the Sahuarita Teen Advisory Council, the Oro Valley Youth Advisory Council and the Pima County School Superintendent’s Office.

The event, which also included a career fair, was sponsored by Tucson Electric Power, Desert Diamond Casinos & Entertainment, Hudbay, Vantage West Credit Union, Jim Click Automotive, Greater Oro Valley Chamber, John Wesley Miller Companies and San Miguel High School.



Clean water relies on regional coordination

Treated wastewater has restored the perennial, 17-mile Santa Cruz River, which the public can enjoy from The Loop, a shared-use pathway along the river. Yet, the public may be surprised to learn that the effluent is even cleaner than rainwater runoff. As a result of the polluted stormwater that flows into the riverbed, the Santa Cruz River is considered “impaired.”

To coordinate regional solutions to address stormwater pollution, Pima Association of Governments is conducting a grant-funded project to develop a Water Quality Management Plan. PAG, which is the designated areawide water quality planning agency for Pima County under the U.S. Clean Water Act, Section 208, received the grant in November from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and will complete the work in June. 

To address contamination indicated by E. coli levels found in local stormwater samples, PAG’s plan will include a focus on A) green infrastructure as pollution treatment and B) building partnerships for pollution prevention outreach. Since E. coli is found in pet waste, PAG encourages pet owners to “Scoop the Poop” to prevent pollution. 


As part of the project, PAG is also 1) seeking available, local research that traces the pathogen sources that exceed waterquality standards, 2) analyzing green infrastructure (GI) opportunities through GIS-based prioritization assessment, 3) updating PAG’s Watershed Pocket Guide with new GI demonstration sites, 4) building partnerships for on the ground outreach, and 5) creating a green stormwater infrastructure plan containing goals, actions and recommendations. 

If you are interested in partnering or advising PAG on these efforts, please contact Mead Mier at

2018 Regional Council officers elected
Pima Association of Governments’ Regional Council elected Pascua Yaqui Tribe Vice Chairman Peter Yucupicio as 2018 Chair, Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Edward Manuel as Vice Chair and Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild as Treasurer at its annual meeting on Jan. 25.

Other Regional Council members include Pima County Supervisor Ramón Valadez, Marana Mayor Ed Honea, Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath, Sahuarita Mayor Tom Murphy, South Tucson Mayor Ildefonso Green and Arizona State Transportation Board Member Michael Hammond, who represents Pima County on the state board. Officers are elected to serve for a one-year period.

Pascua Yaqui Tribe Vice Chairman Peter Yucupicio, PAG Regional Council Chair

2018 RTA Board officers elected

Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath will serve as the 2018 Chair of the Regional Transportation Authority Board. Hiremath was elected Jan. 25 at the annual RTA Board meeting.

Other officers elected include Arizona State Transportation Board Member Michael Hammond as Vice Chair and Pima County Board Supervisor Ramón Valadez as the 2nd Vice Chair. Hammond represents Pima County on the state board. Other RTA Board members include Pascua Yaqui Tribe Vice Chairman Peter Yucupicio, Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Edward Manuel, Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, South Tucson Mayor Ildefonso Green, Marana Mayor Ed Honea and Sahuarita Mayor Tom Murphy.

The Regional Transportation Authority, which is managed by Pima Association of Governments, was established by the Arizona Legislature in 2004 as a special taxing district. A $2.1 billion, 20-year transportation plan, approved by Pima County voters in May 2006, is funded by a countywide half-cent sales tax.

The multimodal RTA plan includes roadway, safety, transit and environmental and economic vitality improvements across the taxing district. The RTA has completed more than 800 projects to date and is in its 12th year of plan implementation.

Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath, RTA Board Chair 


Varney selected as 2018 regional leadership award recipient

Mike Varney, former president and CEO of the Tucson Metro Chamber, received the 2018 Thomas L. Swanson Regional Leadership Award on Jan. 25 from Pima Association of Governments.

The Swanson award is given in honor of a former PAG executive director, the late Thomas L. Swanson, to acknowledge an individual or organization that has affected positive change in the region in the areas of transportation, air quality, water quality or economic vitality.

Varney, who recently retired, has contributed to many regional successes. "Mike is a respected leader who has stepped forward to champion regional infrastructure and economic vitality issues, including sometimes unpopular and controversial funding proposals,” said Tucson Metro Chamber Board Member Tom McGovern, who nominated Varney for the award.

“Mike’s many collaborative and relationship-building efforts have had a positive effect on transportation and economic development in the region."

To view more information and past Swanson award recipients, please visit and view Awards under About PAG.



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