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Senate EPW Committee passes safety-focused highway bill

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The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee today unanimously passed the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021 (STRA), its proposal to reauthorize the expiring highway program.

The proposed legislation, which was crafted in a bipartisan manner, funds surface transportation programs at $304 billion over five years, which is a 34% increase over current funding levels. This funding includes historic funding levels for the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), $16.8 billion over the five-year period, which is a nearly $2 billion increase over current funding levels.

ATSSA worked hard to ensure that funding levels for HSIP were as high as possible and then continued to work to insert additional safety provisions and funding in other programs throughout the legislation. Now our team will work to ensure these advocacy successes remain in the package as it winds its way through Congress this summer.

ATSSA endorses rural road safety legislation introduced in the House

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Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.) and Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) introduced H.R. 2481, the High Risk Rural Roads Safety Grant Program Act, in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bipartisan proposal, which is strongly supported by ATSSA, would direct federal roadway safety infrastructure funds to locally owned rural roads.

The fatality rate on rural roads is two times greater than on non-rural roads, according to U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) statistics. Additionally, local governments generally do not have the resources needed to make critical, lifesaving roadway safety infrastructure investments.

H.R. 2481 would create a $600 million competitive grant program that local governments could apply for, with the federal grant being funded at 100%. A specific $100 million set-aside is also included for tribal road safety.

In addition to ATSSA, the American Highway Users Alliance, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), National Association of Counties (NACo), National Association of County Engineers (NACE) and the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) endorsed the legislation.

ATSSA issues recommendations for a Vulnerable Road Users Program

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ATSSA recently released its recommendations for “Developing an Effective Vulnerable Road User (VRU) Program” to address rising pedestrian fatalities as well as the safety of people not in vehicles but who utilize the roadways.

“This includes bicyclists and others who might not only walk, but roll, and are at a distinct and dangerous disadvantage when crossing a road or being in a road with vehicles and trucks,” ATSSA President & CEO Stacy Tetschner said in a letter to the heads of state departments of transportation (DOTs) across the country.

The document includes 19 recommendations assembled by ATSSA’s Traffic Signals Committee that Tetschner said ATSSA believes “will help put VRUs on a more equal footing with vehicle‐based travel, not only in terms of safety, but as a means of effective and efficient travel mode.”

USDOT releases ‘Pedestrian Safety Action Plan’

New program seeks to reduce pedestrian deaths and serious injuries

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The U.S. Department of Transportation this week released what it is calling a “first-of-its-kind” Pedestrian Safety Action Plan.

The plan is explained in a 26-page document that lays out actions to be achieved by the end of this year, the end of next year and into the future.

It begins by offering information to help people in “understanding the challenge” and “addressing the challenge.”

The goal is reducing pedestrian deaths and serious injuries. November and December traditionally see high fatality rates.

FHWA issues updated information on devices at mid-block pedestrian crossings

MUTCD update addresses channelizing devices

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"Channelizing Devices at Mid-Block Pedestrian Crossings in Conjunction with In-Street Pedestrian Crossing (R1-6 Series) Signs." 

Official Ruling No. 3(09)-61 (I)  clarifies instructions for using channelizing devices such as tubular markers at mid-block crosswalk locations, according to an update from FHWA.

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