The Shovel-Ready Streets Act, a bill introduced by Sen. John Fetterman on Thursday, aims to fund the construction of safer street designs across the country, with a focus on Pennsylvania’s chronically unsafe streets. The bill proposes changing the Safe Streets and Roads for All Grant Program by reducing the funding required for planning to 20%, freeing up more funds for implementation. Sen. Fetterman has been vocal in advocating for street safety and transit improvements since his time in office.
Pennsylvania is home to some of the most unsafe streets in the nation — between 2012 and 2020, 1,426 pedestrians were killed on Pennsylvania streets. Experts have dubbed State Street in Harrisburg the “deadliest road in America.” Following the I-95 collapse, attention has turned to Philadelphia’s Roosevelt Boulevard—the city’s most dangerous road—as traffic from the interstate has been re-routed to the Boulevard.
The Shovel-Ready Streets Act will help communities in Pennsylvania and across the country address chronically unsafe streets that lead to thousands of deaths by freeing up funding for construction of safer street designs.
The bill will amend the Safe Streets and Roads for All Grant Program, a Bipartisan Infrastructure Law discretionary program that provides grants for the planning and construction of street redesigns and safety improvements on dangerous roads. Currently, this program requires at least 40% of funding to go towards the planning process of street redesigns, but many cities have been planning for these kinds of investments for years and have already completed this step.
Right now, there are currently more shovel-ready projects than there is grant money to fund them. Sen. Fetterman’s bill would address this challenge by dropping the percentage of funding required to go towards planning to 20%, which will free up more funds for implementation.
“The recent disaster on I-95 and the subsequent detour to the already dangerous Roosevelt Boulevard was a stark reminder of the perilous roads that run through our towns,” said Senator Fetterman. “Safe streets are a life and death issue. Though these deaths rarely make headlines, the hundreds of Pennsylvanian lives we lose due to unsafe streets is unacceptable — and it doesn’t have to be this way. My bill will help us fix this chronic issue here in PA and across the country.”
In his first months in office, Senator Fetterman has taken action to promote street safety and improve transit. Most recently, he joined Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and the PA congressional delegation to urge federal agencies to provide federal funds to support additional capacity on SEPTA following the collapse of the bridge on I-95. Senator Fetterman also sent two letters recently pushing the administration to take action to make streets safer and address the frustrating delays that we have seen.
Last week, he participated in a Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing with Shailen Bhatt, Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), where he raised questions about the I-95 overpass collapse and called on the federal government to work with the Pennsylvania delegation to address street safety issues in the state.
A one-page summary of the bill is available here.