South Park Avenue Improvement Project, Tucson, Arizona

Federal Highway Administration
During 1995 and 1996, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) awarded the City of Tucson, Arizona, $1.5 million to carry out a series of transportation enhancements along a one-mile stretch of South Park Avenue southeast of downtown Tucson. The South Park area, located within Tucson's federally designated Empowerment Zone/Enterprise Community, is a low-income, minority community originally settled by African Americans during the 1940s. It is an area rich in cultural and historical significance because, during its early days, it was one of the few places in Tucson where African Americans could purchase land, build homes, start businesses, and create a community. FTA's Livable Communities Initiative, the primary funding source for the South Park Avenue Improvement Project, was established to assist transit-dependent communities with economic recovery. From 1995 through 1999, Tucson Department of Transportation (TDOT) worked with residents and businesses in the South Park neighborhood to plan and implement a series of improvements that increased transit, improved pedestrian and bicycle safety and accessibility, enhanced commercial district aesthetics along South Park Avenue, and reinforced the community's sense of pride in its unique history and culture. From an environmental justice standpoint, the South Park Avenue Improvement Project is noteworthy for three principal reasons: first, it demonstrates an effective use of partnerships to leverage funds and other key resources for transportation enhancements in a low-income, minority community; second, it illustrates the use of context-sensitive design as a tool for reawakening a community's sense of identity and pride; third, it provides examples of highly creative and effective public involvement strategies.
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