Emergency Round-Table Called to Devise Means to Make Roads Safer

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Guam – Public Safety officials and other GovGuam leaders gathered Thursday afternoon to come up with ways to help avoid more road tragedies.

Acting Governor Ray Tenorio called the meeting.

In attendance, Guam Police Chief Fred Bordallo and other officers from GPD; members of the Guam Fire Department; the Mayors’ Council of Guam, and the Department of Public Works.

They held an emergency round-table meeting at Adelup to discuss challenges and propose solutions to the dangers of Guam’s roads.

“I want to have an open dialogue with everyone here so we can have some solutions,” Acting Governor Tenorio said. “I want to prevent any further tragedies. Open and honest discussion is the only way to make our roads safer.”

A number of concrete solutions and ideas were presented to the Acting Governor:
1. Reinstatement of Operation Blue Fire, which will send more officers to the streets to enforce traffic laws during rush hours.
2. Grant funding to pay for off-duty officers and overtime for these increased operations.
3. Resources for mayors to begin enforcing traffic laws as authorized by law.
4. Assessments of road conditions.

“I believe a full-court press on the streets, if we step up our enforcement, will reduce the frequency of traffic accidents,” GPD Chief Fred Bordallo said.  “We also need to better educate the public. That includes following laws, being better defensive drivers, and gauging road conditions.”

The increased presence and enforcement will occur during several “rush hour” periods identified by GPD:

5 a.m. to 10 a.m.
11a.m. to 2 p.m.
4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Enforcing Speeding Laws
As GPD began the productive dialogue, a new solution presented was the reinstatement of Operation Blue Fire. According to Capt. Paul Suba, Operation Blue Fire has partially been operating, but will be fully implemented by March. This will incorporate support from several law enforcement agencies such as Airport and Port Police, as well as the mayors’ offices. The program entails aggressive law enforcement and increased presence of personnel on Guam’s roads. “Operation Blue Fire is the spirit of people coming together to change the behavior of motorists toward safer highways and roadways,” said Capt. Suba.

High Visibility Speed Program
According to Capt. Kim Santos, a grant was obtained that pays for off-duty officers and overtime. This grant supports the High Visibility Program. “Part of the objective of this grant is to enforce speed limit and educate the public in following traffic laws,” said Capt. Santos.

Mayors’ Council
Angel Sablan, executive director of the Mayors’ Council expressed mayors’ concerns about the limits in tools they are provided with. While they want to enforce traffic laws within their villages, they are only equipped with amber lights. “We’re working with GPD to give us authority to use blue lights,” Santos said. “In doing so, it would aid the mayors in issuing citations and duly enforcing the law.”

Hagåtña Bridge Construction, Other Projects
Part of making roads safer lies with the Department of Public Works. As the amount of cars on highways increase, the effects of errors and delays will be magnified. DPW Director Joanne Brown mentioned that one of the bigger challenges in addressing highways is maximizing the use of limited resources—both in her department and in law enforcement.

“Now that the attention is increased in road construction, everyone including contractors are stepping up to prevent these projects from being delayed,” she said.

DPW will begin to assess traffic flow more carefully on a number of high-traffic areas, including the site for the upcoming Hagåtña Bridge reconstruction. When that project begins next year, Brown says only a single lane will be closed in each direction, and construction will occur 24-hours a day.

The matters will be discussed further at Acting Governor Tenorio’s standing Public Safety meeting, scheduled for next Wednesday at 9 a.m. in the large conference room of the Governor’s Complex.

“We need to raise the bar, not just for ourselves, but for our students, our pedestrians, and our drivers,” Acting Governor Tenorio said.  “It’s time for ideas and solutions.  I want to thank everyone who attended this meeting, and encourage all Guamanians to give their suggestions on how we can make our roads safe again.”