$30 million in federal grants to improve Atlanta roads for pedestrians, cyclists

Atlanta will receive $30 million dollars to improve city streets in an effort to fight a nationwide increase in deadly accidents.
Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 10:14 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Atlanta will receive $30 million dollars to improve city streets in an effort to fight a nationwide increase in deadly accidents.

The federal grant will transform Pryor Street and Central Avenue in downtown Atlanta into “safe streets” and connect Atlanta’s southside and southside beltline trail to downtown.

New safety countermeasures for pedestrians and bicyclists will include bike lanes, crosswalk lighting, roadway reconfiguration, flashing beacons, and medians.

U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg said the solutions are simple but effective.

“When you time the lights properly so you give them enough time to get across the street when you create islands so they can stop in the middle - perhaps so they can stop if they can’t get across, if you add better lighting, all those things can be done very quickly,” said Trottenberg. “They’re shown by the data to have a real impact on pedestrian safety.”

Trottenberg anticipates the changes will be put into place “quickly” – likely within the next several months.

The funds come from the Biden-Harris administration’s Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) Grant Program, which allocated $800 million for 510 nationwide projects to improve roads and address traffic fatalities. The grant for Atlanta is one of the largest awarded.

“The city is data-driven and focused on parts of the city and populations most in need of these safety treatments,” said Trottenberg.

The most recent government data from 2020 to 2021 find traffic fatalities dramatically increased, after years of improvement.

Deadly multi-vehicle crashes and crashes on urban roads jumped 16 percent. Pedestrian deaths increased by 13%. Bicyclist fatalities were up 5 percent.

“Every year, crashes cost tens of thousands of American lives and hundreds of billions of dollars to the economy,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “We face a national emergency on our roadways, and it demands urgent action.”

There are currently no other built bicycle facilities running north and south through downtown. Leaders hope the project will not only make streets safer but encourage commuters to swap their cars for bikes or sneakers to get around.

The city of Atlanta did not respond to Atlanta News First’s questions about a timeline for the project or how it may impact traffic.