Danger on the Roads
Roadway deaths and injuries in the US have reached a decade high. Specifically, pedestrian fatalities on US roads have increased by more than 50% in the past decade. This rise has been called a “crisis on America’s roadways” by Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. Experts attribute this rise to increased cellphone use and distracted driving as well as inadequate street lighting for nighttime walkers, among other factors.
A Proposed Solution
Congress’ response to this issue is the creation of the Safe Streets and Roads for All grant program under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). This program will provide agencies with funding to create and implement comprehensive safety action plans to improve safety on the roadways. On May 16, 2022, the US Department of Transportation announced $1 billion in Safe Streets and Roads for All grants. This announcement is only the first installment of grants and will be followed by an additional $4-5 billion over the next five years.
The grants will be available to metropolitan planning organizations, counties, cities, towns, and other special districts that are subdivisions of a State, federally recognized tribal governments, and partnerships of those entities by application.
Upon approval, these grants can provide the development of a new comprehensive safety plan, supplemental activities to further develop an existing action plan, or to carry out projects identified in an action plan.
The Department of Transportation laid out several examples of projects identified in an action plan. Agencies can implement improvements including an expanded network of bicycle lanes, improved safety features for pedestrian crossings, and additional safety treatments like rumble strips, wider edge lines, and sidewalks. Furthermore, agencies could conduct speed management projects, address alcohol impaired driving, make street design changes, and create safe routes to school and public transit services.
The Final Goal
The Department of Transportation intends that the Safe Streets and Roadways for All program will support the Department’s National Roadway Safety Strategy, which sets a goal of zero deaths and serious injuries on our nation’s roadways. More importantly, it expects that the grants will reverse the increasing trend of roadway deaths and injuries in the past decade.
Applications for the Safe Streets and Roads for All grants are open through September 15, 2022. To be considered for these grants, organizations and agencies should begin identifying potential partners, consider including community members in the process, and assessing the applicability of relevant laws like the National Environmental Protection Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.
If you have questions or concerns regarding the Safe Streets and Roads for All grant opportunity and how it may impact you and your business, please contact the attorneys at Rock, Fusco & Connelly.