USDOT Grants $82.6 Million for Road Safety in 46 States

Several Go Toward Boosting Freight Route Safety
I-70 Colorado
Interstate 70 over the Colorado River near Rifle, Colo. (Colorado DOT)

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The U.S. Department of Transportation announced it awarded $82.6 million in road safety planning grants to 46 states, including projects involving truck freight in Colorado, Florida, Indiana, New Jersey and Vermont.

“Whether it’s a dangerous intersection or highway or a need for better bus and bike lanes, no one can better pinpoint a community’s safety needs than the people who actually live and work there,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Oct. 27. “In the past five years, the communities we are awarding these grants to experienced nearly 14,000 roadway deaths. To help change that unacceptable reality, we are proud to deliver this needed funding to help them address their unique safety needs and save lives.”

“These funds,” DOT noted, “will help communities develop safety action plans, inform improvements along corridors with safety issues, use ‘quick-build’ strategies to test out safety features, such as separated bicycle lanes or curb extensions at intersections, and more.” It stated that the grant program is a key part of the agency’s national roadway safety strategy.

Polly Trottenberg, deputy transportation secretary, said that DOT “is so excited to partner with communities all across the country to quickly and nimbly get these plans ready for action.”

Among those to receive federal funds is the town of Rifle, Colo., a regional cattle ranching area along Interstate 70 and straddled between the Utah border, 300 miles to the west, and Denver, about 180 miles east. DOT is providing $120,000 (80% of the total cost) to conduct a safety analysis to create an action plan to reduce fatalities and serious injuries. The small mountain community has experienced roadway safety issues from traffic traveling east-west through the town on I-70 and north-south on Colorado State Highway 13. Bad weather closures on I-70 can compound safety concerns by forcing an SH 13 detour route for passenger and heavy trucks between Silverthorne and Rifle.

Pasco County in Florida will receive $320,000 in federal dollars to fund a $400,000 safety action plan “to address the epidemic of transportation-related fatalities and serious injuries” on county roads, according to DOT. With a prime west-central location on the Gulf Coast, the county spans 868 square miles that offer quick access to the state’s largest seaports, Tampa International Airport, rail lines and highways. Trucks there can reach 19 million customers within a day’s drive “with the added benefit of low backhaul rates,” noted DOT’s funding award. The county has become a leading logistics and distribution hub. “In 2023, Pasco County is one of the fastest-growing counties in the third-fastest-growing state in the country, and one of the most dangerous counties for all road users based on” the number of transportation-related crashes that resulted in fatalities and serious injuries, DOT said.

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Indiana’s small rural city of Rushville, located in an Amish area amid major highways (U.S. Route 52 and state roads 44 and 3) between Cincinnati and Indianapolis, will use 80% of its federal grant to complete a $984,500 road safety plan. The area is experiencing a “rapid increase in volume of commercial traffic, and heavyweight freight vehicles have created safety issues for all road users in this area, namely commercial operators, motorists, local agricultural producers operating farm equipment and Amish community members using horse-and-buggies.” The plan will focus on how to safely handle large commercial vehicles that pass through and local road users.

New Jersey’s Edison Township, a central commercial hub, was awarded a $320,000 grant for a safer travel plan because of its high urban population, lack of comprehensive pedestrian infrastructure and heavy truck traffic. Meanwhile, northwestern Vermont officials in Lamoille County, a key forestry and logging locale, will also spend a $107,348 federal award to improve roadway safety for all travelers. A primary focus will be to evaluate safety risks for freight trucks, passenger vehicles and other travelers while seeking new infrastructure solutions.

Buttigieg is expected to make another announcement later this year for other roadway safety grants.