COLUMBUS – Thanks to the recent increase in the state motor vehicle fuel tax, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is making it easier for local governments to fund much-needed safety improvements. Roadway safety has been a key focus for Governor Mike DeWine and ODOT.
Until now, ODOT required a 10 percent local contribution for safety projects. Under new guidance intended to remove barriers when applying for funds, ODOT announced the state will now cover 100 percent of the project costs. The increased costs to ODOT will be funded through the additional revenue provided by last year’s fuel tax increase.
“In previous years, if communities were not able to match the funding, a project may have unnecessarily been stalled,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “With ODOT now funding 100 percent of safety projects, communities can make needed updates in a timely manner, ensuring the safety of both pedestrians and drivers.”
Safety improvements, such as adding turn lanes, reconstructing rural curves and upgrading signs, signals and pavement markings, are eligible for the funding. Funding requests typically range from $200,000 to $5 million, though the department will consider funding requests up to $10 million.
“This level of commitment to safety is a new high water mark for ODOT. In my many years in and around the Department, this is the first time we’ve offered all local governments 100% funding of safety projects,” said ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks.
An analysis of crashes in Ohio from 2009 to 2018 found that 63 percent of all deadly and serious injury crashes occurred on roadways maintained by local governments.
ODOT accepts applications twice a year. The deadlines are April 30 and Sept. 30. The department also accepts abbreviated applications any time of year for projects $500,000 or less. Information about the program can be found on ODOT’s website.
“Every Ohioan is precious. That’s why our mantra at ODOT is toward zero deaths. We won’t be satisfied until the number of deaths in Ohio is zero, and every city, county, village and township has the resources to help us achieve it,” Marchbanks said.
ODOT is also dedicating an additional $10 million to the Pedestrian Safety Improvement Program. These investments will improve safety for Ohioans traveling on foot or by bike in the state’s largest cities. Safety improvements could include: Curb ramps, raised crosswalks, curb extensions, pedestrian refugee islands; Pedestrian countdown signals or Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons; Street lights; Pavement markings like high-visibility crosswalk striping and advance yield markings; Signage for crosswalks or Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons.
To apply, municipalities should reach out to the safety coordinator in their ODOT district.
From 2014 to 2018, ten counties accounted for 65 percent of all pedestrian deaths: Franklin, Cuyahoga, Montgomery, Hamilton, Lucas, Stark, Butler, Summit, Lorain, and Mahoning. Seven in 10 deadly crashes involving pedestrians occur on roads maintained by local governments.
After last year’s motor vehicle fuel tax increase, the state was able to infuse an additional $50 million into Ohio’s highway safety program. As a result, Ohio now invests $158 million annually and runs the third-largest program in the nation. Funding can be used to make improvements on any public roadway in the state.