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Detroit gets federal grant to make its most dangerous roadways safer

Detroit's plan to improve roadway safety will focus on its most unsafe thoroughfares.
Detroit's plan to improve roadway safety will focus on its most unsafe thoroughfares.

Detroit is among the worst cities in the country for the number of serious and fatal traffic accidents, but the city is hoping a new grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation will help change that.

Officials announced this week that Detroit will receive $24.8 million to help improve roadway safety over the next five years.

The improvements are sorely needed. Detroit was already among the worst cities in the country in 2016 when it came to fatal traffic accidents, and that number increased another 88% from 2017 to 2020.


James Hannig, deputy director of complete streets at Detroit’s Department of Public Works, said the money will provide “an injection of funding where we can focus on the most unsafe corridors in the city.”

“We, at community meetings and through various stakeholder engagement, heard loud and clear that people do not feel safe on the streets and that speeding and reckless driving is definitely a problem,” Hannig said. So funds will focus on “where we know that there are concentrations of crashes that have been happening over the past few years, where we can really implement different types of traffic safety countermeasures that are proven to work.”

Hannig said those countermeasures will include improved pedestrian crossings with new features like high-visibility crosswalks, rapid flashing beacons, and signal improvements. The city will also implement new traffic calming measures. And in some cases we'll be looking at reducing the number of lanes or the width of some streets where there's ability to do that, and use that extra space for other ways of keeping people safe on the streets,” he said.

While the city has five years to spend the grant money, Hannig said residents should start to nice some improvements within the next year or so. “We're going to focus on some improvements that we can get done right away and be really cost-effective and focus on a rapid response,” he said.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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