CHICAGO — A plan to develop a first-of-its-kind traffic safety framework for northeastern Illinois is getting a $3.9 million boost from the federal government, for a total investment of nearly $5 million.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) recently announced the grant award in response to a joint application submitted by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) in partnership with six of the region’s counties. IDOT will contribute $434,000 and the counties will collectively contribute $540,000 in order to meet the federally required local match to release the funds.
The funds are provided under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which establishes the new Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) discretionary grant program to strengthen local approaches to roadway safety and save lives. The SS4A program supports the USDOT’s National Roadway Safety Strategy and a goal of zero deaths and serious injuries on our nation's roadways.
“I’m so proud to help announce this critical support to help make our streets safer,” U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth said. “Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we’re making sure our cities have the resources they need to reduce the troubling number of traffic fatalities. I look forward to seeing the results of the Safe Travel for All Roadmap and how we will keep the Chicago metropolitan area safer for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists for years to come.”
The grant will fund a comprehensive, regional program called Safe Travel for All Roadmap (STAR), which will provide a framework for safety research and programs to make northeastern Illinois safer for all travelers.
“The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) was created with the hopes that it would have a significant, positive impact on our nation’s economy and improve our country’s transportation system. With the Safe Streets and Roads for All grant program, established through the IIJA, we will see that positive change come home to Illinois,” U.S. Senator Dick Durbin said. “I’m eager to see Illinois put these funds to good use, making our region a safer place to travel.”
Traffic deaths have sharply increased since COVID-19. In the United States, fatalities are up 18%, while fatalities in northeastern Illinois jumped 42% between 2019 and 2021. An increasing number of those killed are people walking or riding a bike. And while the traffic safety crisis affects everyone, the risk is greater among low-income and Black communities.
“Ending traffic fatalities is a top priority for the Illinois Department of Transportation,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman said. “Thanks to these historic investments at the federal level and Gov. Pritzker’s Rebuild Illinois capital program, we have a once-in-life opportunity to work collectively and innovatively to improve safety and make our entire system of transportation more reliable and accessible for everyone.”
“We are thrilled that this significant new funding will enable us to address one of northeastern Illinois’ most pressing issues,” CMAP Executive Director Erin Aleman said. “STAR will be transformative for the safety of everyone in our region, especially our most vulnerable travelers. We look forward to working with our partners to make critical improvements in our communities and save lives.”
The STAR program will improve regional traffic safety in a comprehensive, equitable, data-informed and collaborative way. In particular, the program will provide technical assistance to six counties in our region to develop county-wide safety action plans. The plans will use a regional framework but also will be unique to each county — building on existing efforts and addressing local issues. Each plan will leverage CMAP’s best practice research and analysis, data resources and technical expertise.
These plans will enable the counties and their municipalities to meet eligibility requirements to apply for federal implementation grants. More than $1 billion in competitive safety funds is available annually through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Learn more about the STAR program and traffic safety.