Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Wednesday's announcement of $800 million worth of grants for local traffic safety improvement projects is aimed at reducing the number of motor vehicle collisions. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 1 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded $800 million in federal grants Wednesday for hundreds of infrastructure projects aimed at improving road safety and reducing traffic-related fatalities.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg made the announcement Wednesday, as part of the Safe Streets and Roads for All Grant Program.
The program will see $5 billion distributed over five years on the regional and local levels. It is part of President Joe Biden's $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill passed in 2021.
Wednesday's announcement addressed 510 separate projects, including everything from better sidewalks and crosswalks, to redesigned roads and intersections. It comes one day after the department launched a data visualization tool which identifies locations of frequent traffic collisions.
U.S. traffic fatalities reached 42,915 in 2021, their highest total in 16 years. The department estimates 2022 totals will remain near that level.
A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report pegged the cost of motor vehicle accidents in 2019 at $340 billion.
Funding announced Wednesday is earmarked for projects that will reduce that number. The money will pay for both planning and construction.
"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," Buttigieg said in a statement.
"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 largest individual grant was awarded to Detroit, Mich. The city is getting $24.8 million which will be spent on redesigning transportation infrastructure in high-collision areas and improving pedestrian safety infrastructure.
Hillsborough County, Fla., was awarded $19.7 for things such as new sidewalks, bike lanes and pedestrian safety measures.
Biden has made a number of recent federal funding announcements under his infrastructure bill. Earlier in the week the president announced federal funding to replace an aging rail tunnel between New York and New Jersey. That came after a separate announcement that will see a rail tunnel in Maryland on the busy northeast corridor replaced.