Dear Administrator Mendez and Administrator Strickland,
I am writing in regards to the recent announcement concerning pedestrian fatalities and grant opportunities available to "Focus Cities." I represent the heart of the Las Vegas Valley which unfortunately has had a large number of pedestrian fatalities in recent years. After reaching out to your staff, I learned that the Focus Cities program only recognizes incidents that occur within city lines and not in metropolitan areas. Because of the way this metric is designed, the homes of nearly 1.5 million Southern Nevadans and some of the most popular tourist destinations in the country were not considered when the city's data are reviewed. Accordingly, I urge you to revisit the decision-making metrics to ensure that the area considered is based on realistic boundaries, not simply lines on a map. In Las Vegas, our technical city lines do not come close to encompassing the true metropolitan boundaries.
In the Las Vegas metropolitan area, between 2009 and 2011, some 1,700 collisions involving pedestrians resulted in the death of 82 individuals, at an annual average of 27.3. In the last few years, we have seen the rates climb from 23 fatalities in 2011 to 42 deaths in 2012, an alarming 82 percent increase year-over-year. This year alone, 30 pedestrians have been killed on area roadways. According to information gathered by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas' Transportation Research Center, between 2009 and 2011, 16 pedestrian fatalities occurred in the City of Las Vegas. This number is dwarfed by the 66 deaths that occurred outside of the City lines but within the metropolitan area. The reason that so many incidents are occurring outside of the City is because the city lines do not include a number of heavily populated and visited parts of the Las Vegas Valley.
The famous Strip, which helps welcome more than 40 million visitors from all over the world to its world-class hotels, casinos, and shopping, technically falls outside the City of Las Vegas. The census-designated township of Paradise, which includes McCarran Airport, where nearly half of Las Vegas visitors arrive and depart, as well as the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, which has more than 31,000 students, faculty, and staff, are not inside the city lines of Las Vegas. Nor are the heavily populated neighborhoods of Spring Valley, Winchester, and Summerlin. As you can see from the map attached to this letter, the majority of pedestrian-related crashes and fatalities occur outside of the City of Las Vegas in the urban, unincorporated areas of Clark County.
The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, in partnership with my office and a multi-jurisdictional coalition of local and state officials and agencies, is working to address the growing concern about pedestrian safety in the Las Vegas Valley. Opportunities to partner with federal agencies, such as the Department of Transportation's Focus Cities program, are a critical piece of the puzzle as we work towards zero fatalities in our communities and make our roads safer for all travelers.
Again, I urge your agencies to update the Focus Cities list taking into account metropolitan areas, so we are targeting areas with the highest incidence rates, not just those that occur within arbitrary lines. Should you have any questions, I ask that you reach out to Ben Rosenbaum in my Washington Office. Thank you for your continued work to improve safety nationwide, and your attention to this important request.
Member of Congress