How Cities are Spending Safe Streets Funds

New federal grant programs are injecting millions of dollars into road safety projects in an effort to stem the alarming growth of traffic deaths on U.S. roads.

1 minute read

May 10, 2023, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Writing in Governing, Jared Brey highlights projects receiving the first $800 million in federal grant funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) program. 

In Seattle, they’re building new sidewalks, speed cushions, protected bike lanes and ADA accessible curb cutouts. In Philadelphia, they’re constructing pedestrian refuge islands and traffic signal modifications. In Louisville, they’re reconfiguring — or “rightsizing” — 10 streets to reduce speeds and improve traffic safety.

While “Many cities have laid the groundwork for projects by studying their high-injury networks and creating plans for intervention on specific streets and intersections,” others still need help completing the necessary studies. “The first round of awards included 474 grants for planning work and 37 grants for implementation,” Brey writes, adding that “The program is a unique opportunity for direct funding to cities, which often have to work through state departments of transportation to fund urban street projects.” This could speed up the process for making streets safer and give cities more control over local projects.

Brey describes two other traffic safety programs funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act: a pilot program funding wildlife crossings and grants focused on improving walkability in neighborhoods harmed by infrastructure projects and enhancing safety around railroad crossings.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023 in Governing

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