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Wisconsin gets $6M from feds to make roads, streets safer

By: Ethan Duran//February 3, 2023//

Wisconsin gets $6M from feds to make roads, streets safer

By: Ethan Duran//February 3, 2023//

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Wisconsin will get more than $6 million in federal funds to improve roads in different cities, counties and tribal areas. Milwaukee alone received $4.4 million through the Safe Streets and Roads for All program, which is supported by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. (Photo courtesy of The Associated Press)

Wisconsin cities will see a share of $800 million in federal funding to fix underserved, high fatality roads after traffic deaths became a growing crisis over the last couple of years, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced on Wednesday. The money comes from the federal infrastructure law that President Joe Biden signed in November of 2021.

Milwaukee was awarded $4.4 million through the Safe Streets and Roads for All grant program to improve 26 intersections along five corridors where traffic deaths and serious injuries were the most prevalent, DOT officials said. The city contributed $1.1. million and was one of 37 recipients to get the competitive implementation grant.

Eight other municipalities were given around $2.2 million in SS4A Action Plan Awards. Gov. Tony Evers said the money would support creative solutions to problems for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

“From Milwaukee to Park Falls, these funds are going to support creative solutions to the problems affecting Wisconsin roads, helping keep drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, and communities safe,” Evers said in a statement. “We’ve been working hard over the past four years to ensure Wisconsinites have the safe and reliable transportation system and quality of life they deserve and expect, and we appreciate our federal partners and their commitment to building a better, safer future for our state and country.”

Milwaukee has yet to choose which intersections will get upgrades, whether to install new traffic signals, ADA-compliant measures or put accessible pedestrian signals, a DOT memo said. The city chose five intersections in neighborhoods that were hit hardest by reckless driving and traffic deaths.

  • Capitol Drive, from West Roosevelt Drive to South 15th Street.
  • Atkinson Avenue, from Capitol to Dr. MLK Jr. Drive.
  • Cesar Chavez Drive and South 16th Street, from Pierce to Forest Home.
  • Greenfield Avenue, from Cesar Chavez to 16th Street.
  • Forest Home Avenue, from 16th Street to Lincoln Avenue.

There were a total of 20 fatalities, including eight pedestrians killed, and 104 severe injuries, with 45 pedestrians hurt, over 10 years across each of the 26 intersections the city picked, a DOT memo said. Many crashes were the result of high speeds, reckless driving, disregard for traffic control and other dangerous behavior, officials said.

Intersections with more than five legs, lack of accessible pedestrian signals, dated pedestrian facilities and skewed intersections all contributed to the high risk around some of Milwaukee’s intersections, the memo said.

In the first nine months of 2022, the region containing Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio saw traffic deaths fall by 3%, a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed. However, traffic deaths in Wisconsin grew 1.3% year-over-year, as there were 455 traffic deaths in the first nine months of 2022 and 449 in the first nine months of 2021.

Around 100 traffic deaths happened in Milwaukee County alone, County Executive David Crowley said. The county also received $800,000 to implement traffic safety measures from SS4A, one of the seven counties, cities and tribal territories selected for the program’s Action Plan Awards.

“The time is now for collaboration between Milwaukee County and its municipalities to create a comprehensive, data-driven plan to increase safety for all who use our streets and roadways in Milwaukee County,” Crowley said. “This award moves us closer to that goal and will help us find strategies to keep drivers, bicyclists, transit riders and pedestrians safe.”

The federal government gave money to 473 communities that applied for action plan grants. Here are the seven municipalities slated to receive over $2 million in federal funds for transportation infrastructure, including Milwaukee County.

  • Brown County, for $200,000.
  • Madison, for $267,679.
  • Park Falls, for $144,000.
  • Kenosha County, for 240,000.
  • Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, $132,500.
  • Milwaukee County Department of Transportation, $800,000.
  • St. Croix County, $500,000.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced the Safe Streets and Roads for All program in May, while the Biden administration steered $5 billion in federal aid to municipalities in the face of soaring traffic deaths.


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