Arizona And Sonora Work Together To Make Dangerous Roads Safer

By Kendal Blust
Published: Friday, June 22, 2018 - 5:00am
Updated: Friday, June 22, 2018 - 1:23pm

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highway between Hermosillo and Kino Bay
Kendal Blust/KJZZ
Cars pass on the highway between Hermosillo and Kino Bay in Mexico.

Sitting in a beachside restaurant eating lunch and playing their weekly card game, a group of Kino Bay residents said the two-lane highway that connects this idyllic vacation town to the Sonoran state capitol of Hermosillo, an hour away, is riddled with hazards.

“It’s dangerous. It’s always dangerous, in the day and the night it’s dangerous,” said Cathie Nall, an expat from Texas.

She said there is no passing lane on the highway and drivers zoom past each other at high speeds, sometimes into oncoming traffic.

“We’ve all seen accidents. All of us have seen accidents,” Sandie Burnam said, adding that the highway needs better lighting and more police.

The Sonoran government hopes to address concerns like these by expanding so-called “safety corridors” with Arizona’s support, says Ricardo Martínez Terrazas, director of the Sonoran Infrastructure and Urban Development Department (SIDUR).

“The most important thing is that we’re protecting human lives,” he said.

But leaders in Sonora and Arizona also hope to boost travelers’ confidence and increase the number of tourists visiting Sonora.

In March, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Sonora’s Gov. Claudia Pavlovich announced the completion of the first safety corridor on the 80-mile stretch of highway between Lukeville, Arizona, and Rocky Point, Sonora, a popular beach destination.

Improvements included adding road signs in English and Spanish, cracking down on speeding and drunk driving, and trainingirst responders on dealing with traffic accidents. That’s where Arizona officials come in.

“We want to share our experience, share our expertise over the years. It’s really an exchange of information more than anything else,” said Tom Herrmann, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Herrmann said the trainings are meant to make travelers safer by clearing the scene of an accident more quickly. And he said it’s had little cost for Arizona taxpayers because Sonora is footing the bill for the project’s maintenance and operation.

Martinez, the Sonoran development director, said the safety corridor has already led to fewer car crashes and an 11 percent increase in tourists visiting Rocky Point during Spring Break this year. So now Sonoran leaders are looking at three more areas where they’d like to create safety corridors.

“It’s Guaymas-San Carlos, Navajoa-Alamos and Hermosillo-Bahia de Kino. They’re mainly tourist destinations,” he said of the highways where they plant to build safety corridors.

“We want to share our experience, share our expertise over the years. It’s really an exchange of information more than anything else.”
— Tom Herrmann, Arizona Department of Transportation

Herrman said that ADOT next plans to assist with trainings on road safety assessment and managing traffic accidents on about 15 miles of road from Guaymas-San Carlos.

Filling a cooler with ice at a convenience store on his way to Kino Bay with is family, Martin Hernandez Garcia said he’d like to see a safety corridor because drivers don’t respect the rules of the road.

“The highway is good. The highway is good, the problem is the people,” he said, adding that he’d also like for Arizonans to know that it’s safe to travel to Kino Bay.

“Many people from Arizona that already know these areas can recommend them. And those that don’t, well, they should come!” said Martinez.

He said Arizona tourists are welcome, and he hopes they’ll be encouraged by efforts to improve the roads.

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