Small Cities at Disadvantage to Win Federal Safe Street Grants

Two years into the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s rollout, a USA TODAY investigation has found most of the $5 billion Safe Streets and Roads for all program has so far gone to more affluent counties with lower fatality rates rather than to the disadvantaged communities it was promised to benefit. The reason? “[B]ecause the grants are structured to reward communities that already have the resources to pursue the funding,” writes USA TODAY reporter Austin Fast.

Whereas cities like Detroit, which received about $50 million from the program to improve its streets, have an 18-member grant writing staff, many small cities like Gallup, New Mexico — home to Native communities often left out of such programs but with disproportionately high traffic fatality rates — have no dedicated grant writer and therefore can’t compete with the larger cities or don’t ask for money at all. “[Gallup is] exactly the type of disadvantaged place the Biden administration promised would benefit from a massive influx of federal money for safer streets,” Fast reports.

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