PROVIDENCE, RI – In an effort to improve roadway safety, better connect neighborhoods, and make Providence streets safer for all users, Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation today joined with Mayor Brett Smiley to announce a new $27.2 million federal grant under the Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) grant program.
U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressman David Cicilline helped create the program through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (P.L. 117-58) and made $5 billion in competitive SS4A funding available. This program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation, provides dedicated federal funding to support regional and local road safety projects and strategies that will make busy roadways safer and help prevent deaths and serious injuries.
Providence will use the federal funds to advance engineering and systemic construction of the city’s Urban Trail Network. This project will help build out the network by creating last-mile connections to residential, employment, and cultural activity centers between the city’s 25 neighborhoods while eliminating fatal and serious crashes for vulnerable road users. The trails are a combination of on-road and road-adjacent protected bicycle lanes and shared-use trails, neighborhood greenways on low volume streets, and off-road shared use paths.
Providence’s Great Streets initiative proposes an Urban Trail Network of off-road separated paths, separated on-road trails, and neighborhood greenways that are designed to make the city more walkable and bike-friendly and revitalize and connect its neighborhoods with a safe transportation system that serves everyone.
“This is a smart investment in preventing traffic accidents, improving our streets, and connecting neighborhoods,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD). “This federal funding will help Providence reach its infrastructure and mobility goals and make our streets safer and more efficient.”
“The Safe Streets and Roads for All grant is another example of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law delivering for Rhode Islanders,” said Senator Whitehouse. “This federal funding will support planning and infrastructure improvements that keep Providence’s streets safe and accessible to all who visit and live in our capital city.”
“This is a smart, forward-thinking investment that will benefit all of Providence and help better connect its neighborhoods,” said Congressman Cicilline. “The $27.2 million grant will improve the city’s transportation network and make our streets safer for everyone – whether you bike, walk, drive, or ride.”
“This funding will make Providence a safer city and we’re incredibly grateful to Senator Reed and the Congressional Delegation for their support,” said Mayor Brett P. Smiley. “We will be better able to connect our neighborhoods, slow traffic on our streets and make Providence a place where visitors and residents are welcome to explore on foot, by bike or by car.”
Roadway safety across the U.S. is an area of grave national concern—in 2021 alone, more than 42,000 people were killed in road traffic accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). NHTSA statistics released in December 2022 showed traffic deaths decreased by .2 percent nationwide in the first nine months of 2022, but they increased by 5 percent in New England during that same period.
Between 2018 and 2021 in Providence, there were 1,100 crashes involving people walking or biking, with 260 serious injuries and 8 fatalities. Providence has developed a preliminary list of city-controlled corridors and intersections to improve that were prioritized based on needs related to safety, accessibility, equity, and connectivity.
Under the law, cities and towns can apply for federal SS4A grants. The program is designed to provide $1 billion per year over five years and is open to communities of all sizes to help them ensure safe, accessible streets and roadways for all.