Commission works to decrease roadway injuries and fatalities

Published 10:11 am Thursday, April 11, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Chambers County Engineer Josh Harvill asked the county commissioners to authorize him to begin the process of developing a comprehensive safety action plan. At Monday’s commission meeting, Harvill received permission to ask engineering proposals for the plan.

A federal grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation funds the project. The Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) was awarded to 235 communities totaling $82 million, according to a press release from the county’s highway department. The funding will be used to develop plans and projects targeted at improving safety and preventing death and injuries on the nation’s roadways.  

The Chambers County grant was a joint planning grant along with the neighboring counties of Autauga, Elmore and Perry. The joint grant will total $640,000. The Chambers County Commission is the lead applicant for the grant. 

Email newsletter signup

Grant recipients are required to have certain components as a part of their action plan. The plans must have a goal or commitment to lessen road injuries or deaths within a timeframe, with an eventual goal of zero fatalities. A committee must be formed to create the plan. In the case of this grant, this will include officials from all the counties on the joint grant. 

The group will hire a consultant to develop the plan, which Harvill discussed at Monday’s meeting. This consultant will work on an “analysis of existing conditions and historical trends that provide a baseline level of crashes involving fatalities and serious injuries across a jurisdiction, locality, Tribe, or region,” as stated in the USDOT requirements. 

This can include high-risk areas in the counties, causes and severity of past crashes, looking at vulnerable communities and other data points. The committee and consultant will then get input from community stakeholders and ensure the plan is equitable, serving underserved communities. 

Once the data has been collected and translated into a plan, the group will identify current policies and procedures that prioritize or hinder safety. Along with examining existing policies, the committee will develop new data-driven projects and procedures that address high-risk areas and improve roadway safety.

In the original resolution to seek the grant, the commission stated that “the county desires to improve and expand upon the current Local Road Safety Plan by developing a Comprehensive Safety Action Plan.”

The resolution expected the cost of the safety action plan to be $200,000 per county and agreed to at least a 20 percent match of the grant funding. This means the county will pay $40,000 and receive 200,000 along with the other counties of the joint grant. 

Harvill put out the notice requesting engineering consulting firms to apply on Tuesday. The proposal deadline is May 9, after which the commission will review and choose a firm. 

The SS4A fund was established by the federal bipartisan infrastructure law, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The program has $5 billion in appropriated funds between 2022 and 2026 to be spent on improving roadway safety around the country.