Hamilton safe streets plan seeks $15 million from feds

City would spend $3.75 million on its share to boost safety for vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The safety plan adopted by Hamilton City Council in April now allows the city to seek federal funding to help implement that plan.

The Hamilton Applying for Critical Transportation Safety (ACTS) Plan applies a safe-system approach, looking at safety for vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians. Now the city can seek a $15 million grant to help put part of that plan into action through the Safe Streets and Roads for All program funded by the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“This (grant) aligns with that plan, aligns with the Vision Zero goal, which is the goal of zero deaths and serious injuries on Hamilton’s roadways,” said Hamilton Assistant Director of Engineering Allen Messer.

The grant would require a $3.75 million local match, half of which, Messer said, are projects the city already plans on pursuing, such as upgrading ADA-complaint ramps at intersections as part of a road resurfacing project.

Asking for $15 million is in line with what a city the size of Hamilton could expect to receive after reviewing other grant awards, he said.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Hamilton ACTS will address some of the city’s deficiencies when it comes to roadway safety. The city has ranked poorly in Ohio with bicycle (No. 1) and pedestrian (No. 3) safety, as well as with some of its intersections. Hamilton has four of the top 86 worst urban intersections in Ohio, and two of the top 65 worst urban roadway segments.

From 2018 to 2022, there were more than 8,800 crashes across the city. Hamilton saw 116 pedestrian and bicycle crashes and more than a dozen fatal crashes. It was discovered nearly half of the serious and fatal accidents happened on a fraction of the city’s streets.

“We’re going to take the $18.75 million in funding and basically work backwards,” Messer said. “Taking that list of priorities we developed in the action plan and seeing what’s the most we can get, essentially, for that money.”

The grant funding is anticipated to be over a couple of calendar years, probably three, Messer said. The local funding is expected to be spent between 2025 to 2028.

Though the projects have not been identified, the city will target the intersections, and as many as 70 intersections would receive some type of treatment, from something as simple as new stop signs with flashing red LED lights with price tags of a few thousand dollars to traffic signal overhauls that could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Ohio 4 and High and Main streets are some of the primary roads Hamilton will look to improve, which could see traffic calming applications, improved and new crosswalks, bicycle network improvements and street lighting.

A specific project could see High Street intersections and crosswalks at 8th and 10th streets, which were removed when Hamilton made road improvements on the eastern side of the High Street corridor. This section has a lot of people jaywalking, to avoid walking an entire block to cross only to have to walk back to get to their destination.

“There’s a very noticeable amount of jaywalkers up there,” said Hamilton City Councilman Tim Naab of the area of High Street near 8th and 10th streets. “People with carriages, people walking bicycles, sometimes on bikes, so it’s really not safe.”

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Naab later told the Journal-News that Hamilton residents and businesses “have embraced a citywide, multimodal plan for safety when walking and cycling, along with vehicular metrics.”

“Hamiltonian’s recognize the need to create safe streets and pathways for all people to move through our 17 neighborhoods, whether urban, traditional or suburban,” he said. “Residents and stakeholders have shared their desire to City Council to ensure the city has explored and applied for federal and state grants, assisting with city funds, in order to expand our network of safe, easy access sidewalks, streets and beltways, connecting our neighborhoods, parks and business corridors.”

Hamilton City Council still needs to approve the city’s application for the grant, which is expected to happen at its May 8 meeting. Some council members have expressed support for pedestrian and roadway safety improvements.

Mayor Pat Moeller called the plan two weeks ago “a game-changer” for the city, and Council member Susan Vaughn previously said having residential input in the Hamilton ACTS Plan was beneficial, and continues to be constructive as “there have been some great ideas where grant money can be used.”

Vice Mayor Eric Pohlman told the Journal-News on Tuesday he likes the idea that traffic can be slowed down, especially at Park and Ross avenues just west of the High-Main Bridge. He said city staff have some good ideas because “with all these people coming into town, we’ve got to slow this traffic down.”

Safe Streets and Roads for All grant award notifications are expected to be in early 2025.

About the Author