- June 2, 2022
The U.S. Department of Transportation is handing out $67 million in grants to Florida localities for projects meant to improve highway safety and cut down on fatalities.
Of that money, $20 million will go to the city of Tampa, and $19.7 million will go to Hillsborough County for specific projects. Government entities in Manatee, Sarasota, Polk, Pinellas, Collier, Charlotte and Lee counties will receive planning grants ranging from $200,000 to $720,000. The city of Port Richey will get $160,000 to develop a comprehensive safety action plan.
In all, 37 localities in Florida will receive grant money. Nationally, $800 million in grants were awarded for 510 projects.
The grants come from the Safe Streets and Roads for All program that was created as part of the bipartisan infrastructure plan approved by Congress in 2021. According to the transportation department, $5 billion in grants will be handed out over five years for “regional, local, and Tribal initiatives — from redesigned roads to better sidewalks and crosswalks — to prevent deaths and serious injuries on the nation’s roadways.”
The grants will improve “safety planning for over half the nation’s population and will fundamentally change how roadway safety is addressed in communities through local and regional efforts that are comprehensive and data driven,” the department says in a statement.
“This investment comes at an important junction as traffic fatalities reached a 16-year high in 2021 and preliminary data indicates will remain near those levels in 2022, even getting worse for people walking, biking or rolling as well as incidents involving trucks.”
According to the transportation department, the $20 million grant for Tampa will go toward installing mid-block pedestrian crosswalks, backplates with reflective borders, flashing beacons, high visibility crosswalks and signage enhancements along city streets. The city will also add sidewalks and implement new safety measures around schools, parks and transit routes, including streetlight upgrades, separated bike lanes and speed zones.
The $19.7 million for Hillsborough is for the county’s Data Driven Equitable Transportation Safety Programs. The grant will be used to improve safety countermeasures for pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users and drivers at 22 locations. These measures will include adding sidewalks, curb bulb-outs, bike lanes and implementing speed management strategies.
Hillsborough, the department of transportation says, “has the highest traffic fatality rate per capita among large counties in the country.” And in Tampa, on average 44 people die on city roads each year.
“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,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says in a statement announcing the grants.