The U.S. Department of Transportation announced on Dec. 13 that the cities of Detroit and Dearborn would receive grants that will be used to improve traffic safety as part of the department’s Safe Streets and Roads for All program. The federal program was created by and funded from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law in 2021 by President Joe Biden.
The Safe Streets and Roads for All grant program has so far awarded $1.7 billion of the $5 billion appropriated to it by Congress to all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
“Through the Safe Streets and Roads for All program, we have now announced safety funding going directly to communities representing seventy percent of the people living in this country,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. “We are acting to confront the crisis of safety on our nation’s roads, helping communities work to reduce traffic deaths to the only acceptable number: zero.”
The Detroit Safe Access to Transit program, administered by the city, will receive $24.8 million. The funds will be used to upgrade accessibility and safety at 56 bus stops in Detroit, along with improvements to wheelchair ramps, lighting at intersections, and upgrades to traffic signals.
In Dearborn, $24.8 million will be used to narrow Warren Avenue, a two-mile stretch of road that services traffic going to Detroit, Detroit Metro Airport, and Canada. This narrowing is intended to promote calmer traffic and allow for the addition of a bike lane, a plant buffer and LED lighting for increased visibility.
The announced funding comes after state officials expressed concerns about vehicle-related deaths.
According to data from the Michigan State Police, there were 1,123 fatalities resulting from traffic accidents in Michigan in 2022. While that represents a decrease from 2022, the state police said in a press release in June that the number was “alarmingly high.”
The number of traffic fatalities in Michigan has increased 15% in the last five years, rising from 974 deaths recorded in 2018.
“While the several areas of improvement are encouraging, including among younger drivers, we still have more to do as we work to find innovative ways to save lives and prevent crashes on our roads,” said Katie Bower, director of the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning. When the infrastructure law was voted on in Congress, it was backed by all of the Democrats in Michigan’s congressional delegation, including Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow.
All but one of the state’s Republicans opposed the legislation: Rep. Fred Upton, who retired in 2022, voted for it.
“I voted no because it is filled with pork & only 10% is actual infrastructure. Michigan’s roads and bridges need repairs, but the wasteful spending in this bill will harm America for generations to come,” Rep. Lisa McClain tweeted in November 2021 following the bill’s passage.The law has sent a total of $9.4 billion in funds for 376 projects in Michigan as of November, according to the White House.