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Indiana boxed out of Safe Streets and Roads implementation grants

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana was denied federal funding to physically make roads safer after Indianapolis saw a record 40 pedestrians killed in accidents in 2022.

The Safe Streets and Roads for All program is a part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. There are two types of grants: implementation grants to fix roads, and action grants to create plans to fix them.

Indiana was left out of the group of 22 states that got implementation grants, while three of the 10 communities to get action grants were in central Indiana.

Shawn Fulton, the education and training coordinator for The Arc of Indiana, an advocacy group for people with disabilities, said it’s simple to sum up one transportation need. “Sidewalks. We need sidewalks everywhere, and accessible sidewalks, especially for people in wheelchairs.”

Fulton said Indianapolis desperately needs to update its infrastructure to make public transportation more accessible, too. “I lived at 56th (Street) and Allisonville (Road), and there were no sidewalks and the bus didn’t even go that way. You had to walk all the way up 56th Street to Keystone (Avenue), and there was no sidewalks, and that’s half a mile that you have to walk up to Keystone to catch the bus.”

IndyGo and the Indianapolis city government applied for funding to improve the infrastructure that leads to and from bus routes. IndyGo issued a statement to News 8.

“IndyGo’s project, ‘Safe Routes to Transit,’ seeks to improve the infrastructure that leads to and from our bus routes. Streets without pathways, stops that are not ADA compliant, and neighborhoods that are not connected result in a more dangerous first and last mile connection for our riders. In a time where deadly vehicle and pedestrian accidents in Indianapolis have increased exponentially, it’s critical that we continue to work toward these projects not only for the safety of our riders and success of our transit agency, but for the progression of the entire city.”

Ryan Wilhite, IndyGo manager of special projects and regional mobility integration

The Hamilton County Highway Department was denied a $30 million grant to improve the safety at 146th Street and Hazel Dell Parkway, an area the county says has a high crash rate. Bradley Davis, the director of the Hamilton County Highway Department, said, “It’s a traditional roundabout that would be on Hazel Dell Parkway and 146th Street, and then taking 146th Street and going over the roundabout, and so those through movements on 146th would not have to go through the roundabout anymore, greatly reducing the amount of traffic.”

When it comes to action plans, the Kokomo and Noblesville city governments each received $200,000 while the Shelbyville city government got $120,000 to “develop or complete an Action Plan or to conduct supplemental planning activities,” according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Indianapolis plans to resubmit its implementation grant proposal in the next round after taking time to improve its application.

The Indianapolis Department of Public Works issued a statement to News 8.

“Indy DPW has historically and will continue to apply for federal and state grant funding opportunities such as the Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) Grant Program that can help accelerate our capital program.  In addition to continuing to pursue new funding opportunities, our staff, along with IndyGo who was a co-applicant, are scheduled to debrief with the Federal Transportation Administration for feedback on our application.

“The IndyGo/City of Indianapolis grant application known as “Safe Routes to Transit” consists of eight improvement corridors in Indianapolis (Marion County) that were selected from the IMPO’s Safety Action Plan as priority areas for upgraded and enhanced infrastructure. These corridors also overlap with the Indianapolis Region’s High Injury Network (HIN) making them areas of priority for improvements to both organizations. The total project request was $25 million with a federal funding request of $20 million and combined local match of $5 million.

“While we did not receive this specific grant funding for the year, 2023 will see a historic amount of funding toward our capital infrastructure. We continue to develop projects with safety in mind, especially for vulnerable users such as pedestrians and cyclists. Some examples include the Safe Routes To Transit program, which upgraded hundreds of improvements in proximity to the IndyGo Red Line; an enhanced Broad Ripple Avenue with wider sidewalks, paths, and improved crosswalks currently in construction; and traffic calming solutions in high-pedestrian areas like Downtown, with projects like the two-way conversion of Fort Wayne Ave and a new bus-only lane on Delaware St. In addition to these projects, the City of Indianapolis has funded a new Traffic Safety Engineer position in the 2023 budget, and has created a Fatal Crash Review Team to review fatal traffic incidents and make recommendations based on their findings.”

Indianapolis Department of Public Works

A full list of action grant recipients can be found online, and implementation grant recipients can be found on another website. A map of recipient locations also can be viewed online.