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Frequently Asked Questions

What does PAG do?
Pima Association of Governments, a metropolitan planning organization, has four program areas: transportation planning, environmental planning, energy planning and technical services. The transportation division develops the region’s long-range transportation plan, the short-range Transportation Improvement Program and other federally required transportation plans. Transportation funding programs coordinated through PAG include Transportation Enhancements and Transportation Assistance for the Elderly and Disabled. The environmental division fosters air and water quality planning. The energy division encourages the use of clean fuels and is working to develop a strategic energy plan to identify a range of alternative energy options for the greater Tucson area. The technical services division conducts transportation modeling, provides average daily traffic counts, produces population estimates and forecasts, and coordinates orthophoto data collection for the region.

What is a Metropolitan Planning Organization?
Metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) are established under the Federal Highway Act in urbanized areas of 50,000 or more in population in order to receive federal transportation financial assistance. The MPOs coordinate the comprehensive, urban transportation planning process in cooperation with state and local governments. Pima Association of Governments develops federally required plans such as the long-range Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), the short-term Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), the intermodal system management plan and the Congestion Management Plan (CMP).

Is PAG part of the City or County?
Neither. PAG is a 501(c)4 nonprofit association with members from state, local and tribal governments. The Regional Council is governed by nine individuals, including eight elected officials from each of the local and tribal governments and one representative from the Arizona State Transportation Board. PAG works with member jurisdictions to coordinate planning efforts that cross jurisdictional boundaries.

How is PAG funded?
PAG receives federal, state and local funding with the bulk of its funding coming from federal agencies for transportation planning. PAG received $298,000 from Pima County and the City of Tucson for FY 2010, $4,350 from South Tucson, $22,820 from the Town of Marana, $30,160 from the Town of Oro Valley, $13,525 from the Town of Sahuarita, $2,485 from the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and $7,160 from the Tohono O'odham Nation. PAG's budget for FY2010 is approx. $8.4 million.

What is the Regional Transportation Authority?
The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) is a governmental entity that is managed by a nine-member board. Members of the board represent state, local and tribal governments. The RTA is managed by Pima Association of Governments. Established in August 2004, the RTA developed a 20-year, $2.1 billion transportation plan approved by Pima County voters on May 16, 2006.

How are transportation improvements funded?
Four major sources of transportation revenues include federal, state, regional and local funding. Federal funds are made available though the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) to the region for local government projects. State funds, known as HURF (Highway User Revenue Fund) are distributed to ADOT, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the cities, the counties and regional transportation organizations such as PAG. Regional funds include the voter-approved Regional Transportation Authority revenue source. Local sources of funds may include development impact fees, construction sales taxes or a general sales tax. Local jurisdictions also may dedicate general funds for transportation, and/or request exactions from developers to offset the cost of transportation improvements. Projects that use federal, state or regional funds must be included in the PAG regional Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).
 
Why does it take so long to build roads and other transportation facilities?
Depending on the complexity of the project, it often takes several years from the time planning and design begin to the time construction starts. Planning for transportation projects may include traffic studies, alternative route concepts, environmental assessments and preliminary right-of-way studies. A detailed design must be developed to address a wide variety of factors such as drainage, utility line needs or impacts, terrain and soil conditions, detailed right-of way requirements, project material needs and detailed project costs.

What is Pima County’s current population and growth rate?
The July 1, 2009, population of Pima County is estimated to be 1,018,012. This is 3,989 more than July 1, 2008. Thus, the current growth rate is approximately 0.4 percent. Population estimates are produced annually for July 1 by the Arizona Department of Commerce and are usually finalized in December of the estimate year.

How many square miles are in Pima County?
Pima County is approximately 9,187 square miles of which 70 percent consists of federal, state and Native American-owned lands.

How many miles of roadway are there in Pima County?
Estimated 2005 roadway mileage by area and facility type within Pima County and eastern Pima County is shown in the table below. Eastern Pima County is defined by county lines in the north, east and south, and roughly by Sasaby Highway in the west.

Facility Type

Roadway Miles

Eastern Pima County

Pima County

Major Streets

Interstate Freeway & Parkway

109

109

Other Major Street

1603

1887

Sub Total

1712

1996

Other

Neighborhood Street *

6789

Unknown

*: includes both privately and publicly owned, paved and unpaved traffic-carrying roadways.

Where can I find traffic count information?
PAG has recent traffic count data for most major roads in eastern Pima County.  This information is available as a printed document and as a PDF map. PAG publishes a poster size traffic volume map every winter presenting the most recent roadway count data. Complimentary copies of the current traffic volume map may be picked up at the PAG office, 177 N. Church Ave., Suite 405, Tucson. 

Additional traffic count data for roads within Pima County are available from:

Why does the region only have two freeways?
The idea of building additional freeways in the region has long been considered but has been defeated several times at the ballot box. A cross-town freeway/parkway along the Rillito-Pantano Rivers was defeated in 1984 and plans that included an outer loop freeway system were defeated in 1986 and 1990. Today, the cost to build a cross-town freeway would be more than $2 billion. Available funding sources are limited and no alternative funding sources have been proposed at this time for freeway projects.

What is Pima County doing to maintain clean air?
Motor vehicles generate most of the air pollution in the Tucson region. About 23 million miles are driven on our streets on an average weekday. Programs are available to reduce tailpipe emissions such as annual vehicle emissions testing. Adding ethanol to fuel in winter also will allow cars to burn gasoline more efficiently.  Through its Sun Rideshare program, PAG also encourages Tucsonans to drive less to keep the air clean.

Where can I find out what the pollution levels are in the region?
Visit http://www.airinfonow.org/ to get near real-time air quality information or call 882-4AIR.

What causes the brown haze I see early in the morning?
At night, when temperatures drop, the air is cold, still and stable. Small, airborne dust particles in the air -- from sources such as car emissions and wind-blown dirt -- remain concentrated near the ground and form the haze.  When the sun rises and the ground warms up, there is more mixing of the air and the haze disappears.

What kinds of clean fuels are available in Pima County?
Clean fuels available in Pima County include electric, compressed natural gas (CNG), ethanol (E85), biodiesel and propane. The availability of these alternative fuels is limited but growing. A complete list of locations and a map can be found by clicking here.

What efforts are being made to encourage use of renewable energy resources?
With the cost of a barrel of oil reaching historic highs, expanding the use of renewable energy may be one of the defining issues of our time. PAG, working with the encouragement of the U.S. Department of Energy, led a cooperative effort to develop a strategic energy plan comprised of a set of recommendations to move the Tucson region toward energy sustainability. With support from the Tucson-Pima Metropolitan Energy Commission and interested individuals, the plan was accepted by PAG’s Regional Council in November 2006 and provides a framework identifying specific actions to achieve a more sustainable energy future. Other efforts to encourage use of renewable energy resources include PAG’s Clean Cities program, which is working to make alternative fuels such as ethanol (E85) and biodiesel more available. PAG organized the Tucson region’s first Alternative Energy EXPO at which more than 4,000 people attended in September 2007 and held a second Energy and Sustainability Expo in March 2009 with nearly 3,000 people attending.

 

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