Streets for People / City Snags $400K Federal Safe Streets Planning Grant That May Lead To Additional Construction Dollars
By Chris Hamilton. This story is cross posted in KONK Life newspaper on February 3, 2023. Follow us at Friends of Car-Free Key West & Duval Street/Historic Downtown on Facebook, Twitter and check out all our Streets for People stories here.
On February 1 the U.S. Department of Transportation announced $800 million in grant awards for 510 projects throughout the country from a new Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) Grant Program to help localities tackle traffic fatalities. Thanks to some smart work by City staff, the City of Key West is one of the 510 projects, receiving $400,000 for planning with the possibility of even more for constructing infrastructure in the future. This is important because our little island is full of cars and bikes and all manner of e-vehicles and scooters sharing our compact streets. Funding can help jumpstart needed infrastructure changes called for in our Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan and Vision Zero policy to make our streets safer.
Great to See Key West Get Funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
In announcing the competitive grant program, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said:
“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 U.S. Secretary Pete 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 & Roads for All Grants established by the Biden Administration’s “Bipartisan Infrastructure Law” provides $5 billion over five years. Approximately $1B is set aside for this first round that provides funding to develop Comprehensive Safety Action Plans to meet Vision Zero goals. The second round of about $4B is set aside to implement those plans with infrastructure.
Key West’s Vision Zero Sets the Stage
In 2020, Key West called for a Vision Zero goal to eliminate roadway fatalities and serious injuries by 2035. Says Multi-Modal Transportation Coordinator Ryan Stachurski, who wrote the $400,000 “Key West City-Wide Comprehensive Safety Action Plan” grant:
“We hope that with public engagement and collaboration, we can produce policy and process recommendations to develop a well-defined strategy to prevent roadway fatalities. But once we create our plan, we have to do something with it. An important aspect of this grant opportunity is that the program managers don’t want to just create plans. Once we identify opportunities, there is an option for implementation funding.
This opportunity is important to me because pedestrians and bicyclists – as vulnerable road users – are disproportionally affected by roadway collisions. But our entire community suffers when tragedy strikes on our shared streets. Developing a plan is a step toward achieving our Vision Zero goal.”
Mr. Stachurski graciously added: “Writing this grant was a team effort with Christine Lane of Langton Consulting, Carolyn Sheldon, Alison Higgins, and the support of City Management: all working to make our city safer.”
Key West Community Support Needed
As staff moves forward on developing a “Key West City-Wide Comprehensive Safety Action Plan” they’ll lean on the Key West Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan and Vision Zero policy but will really need the community to step up and identify priorities for what to do with any potential second round funding.
This couldn’t come at a more opportune moment. Last year three bike riders were killed in crashes on Key West and Stock Island. And we’ve talked about how Key West is full of cars AND bikes and e-vehicles and how that often unsafe mix is different from most places. So having some planning money to identify the most needed projects and the opportunity to get more funds to actually build some infrastructure is a huge get for our little island.
Congratulations to the forward-thinking staff who enabled this. As a community we need to support them and the process. In the end, everyone stands to benefit from safer streets. People in cars, on bikes and on two feet.