A new report shows the economic impact of traffic crashes was $340 billion in 2019 alone.

A new report shows the economic impact of traffic crashes was $340 billion in 2019 alone.  

Photo: METRO/Canva

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced $800 million in grant awards for 510 projects through the new Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) Grant Program, including 50 grants for communities in California. 

The competitive grant program provides $5 billion over five years for regional, local, and Tribal initiatives to prevent deaths and serious injuries on the nation’s roadways, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's news release. 

The department also launched a data visualization tool that shows crash hotspots that can help target needed resources. 

This investment comes as traffic fatalities reached a 16-year high in 2021 and preliminary data indicates will remain near those levels in 2022. A new report shows the economic impact of traffic crashes was $340 billion in 2019 alone.   

“Every year, crashes cost tens of thousands of American lives and hundreds of billions of dollars to our economy; we face a national emergency on our roadways, and it demands urgent action,” said Buttigieg. “We are proud that these grants will directly support hundreds of communities as they prepare steps that are proven to make roadways safer and save lives.”   

The Safe Streets and Roads for All program grants support the department’s vision of zero roadway deaths and its National Roadway Safety Strategy: an approach launched in January 2022 to make the nation’s roadways safer for everyone.

As part of SS4A, the department said it is awarding grants for both planning and implementation projects. Action plan grants assist communities that do not currently have a roadway safety plan in place to reduce roadway fatalities. Implementation grants provide funding for communities to implement strategies and projects that will reduce or eliminate transportation-related fatalities and serious injuries.  

The American Public Transportation Association released a statement regarding the Biden Administration investing nearly $520 million in new grants.

“Providing the necessary investment to modernize our public transit and passenger rail systems will allow agencies across the country to meet growing community demands for increased mobility choices that will reap economic and environmental benefits nationwide,” said Paul P. Skoutelas, APTA president/CEO  “These historic investments in our country’s public transportation infrastructure will enable our communities to provide access to opportunities and create family-wage jobs, advance equity, and tackle climate change.”

California received seven awards for implementation projects in this first round of the program: 

  • $28.9 million for Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Improvements Project (Contra Costa County, CA): This project includes improvements to pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure at five areas close to schools, major transit stops, and the largest concentration of pedestrian-involved crashes in the county. Improvements will include upgraded pedestrian and bicycle signaling, new street trees, bike lanes, and ADA-compliant curb ramps.
  • $21.49 million for the Florence-Firestone for All: Achieving Vision Zero in South Los Angeles Project (Los Angeles County, CA): The Florence-Firestone neighborhood in South Los Angeles has experienced an increase in crashes since 2016, with 32 fatal crashes and 177 severe injury crashes between 2017 and 2021. This project will improve safety in the area by installing ADA-compliant curb ramps, curb extensions, raised crosswalks, raised medians, pedestrian refuge islands, speed cushions, and high-visibility crosswalks, among other improvements. LA County will also undertake educational campaigns with teen drivers in schools and a “Safe Routes for Seniors Program.”
  • $17.6 million for the Western Addition Community Safe Streets Project (San Francisco, CA): Currently, pedestrians in San Francisco’s Western Addition neighborhood face unsafe conditions due to high vehicle speeds and a lack of pedestrian infrastructure in the area. This project will upgrade traffic and pedestrian signals and crossings, deploy better speed management strategies, and other safety improvements at 16 intersections to improve safety for these vulnerable road users.
  • $15 million for the San Pablo Avenue Safety Improvements Project (Alameda County, CA): This award will help the Alameda County Transportation Commission address safety concerns for all road users, especially pedestrians and cyclists, along San Pablo Avenue. The project includes bus bulb-outs and bus stop relocation, in-lane transit stops for better speed moderation, and the creation of parallel bike routes. The project will also improve connections to schools and development activities and supports emissions-reduction strategies and efforts to combat urban sprawl. 
  • $12.9 million for Modoc County’s SS4A Implementation Project (Modoc County and Fort Bidwell Tribal Reservation, CA): Modoc County seeks to improve safety along two corridors located in rural disadvantaged communities and Tribal areas that have the County’s most dangerous crash history: County Road 91 and County Road 1. The project will address pedestrian and bicyclist needs identified by community and Tribe members including new bike lanes, pedestrian crosswalks, speed control measures, and mobility-assisted support infrastructure.
  • $9 million for the La Brea Avenue Complete Streets Project (Los Angeles, CA): This project will make safety improvements along La Brea Avenue, which currently poses safety risks for pedestrians. An average of 11.2 pedestrians and 3.2 bicyclists are injured annually in the corridor. The project includes new pedestrian crosswalks and signals; sidewalk repairs; upgraded markings; street tree plantings; and upgrades to the transit user experience to support the city’s Vision Zero goals. 
  • $2.2 million for Sedco Blvd. Improvements (Wildomar, CA): The City of Wildomar, a historically rural community, will use this award to execute infrastructure improvements in its most disadvantaged neighborhood. The project includes adding bicycle lanes adjacent to vehicle travel lanes, improving sidewalks, and installing three roundabouts along a 0.19-mile segment that links two planned bicycle corridors.
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