Dozens of traffic safety projects will receive $15 million in funds from PennDOT for pedestrian-focused infrastructure and signal upgrades, among other priorities.

Announced by the Wolf administration Jan. 5, the 36 projects are spread across 20 counties and run from electronic speed signs to crosswalk improvements.

"This program helps communities across the state make important investments in traffic flow and safety," Gov. Tom Wolf said in a release. "These improvements complement the many road, bridge and multimodal projects happening in Pennsylvania."

Most grants are relatively small-scale, with the most expensive being $7 million in Philadelphia for roundabouts, traffic calming, bike network improvements and intersection modifications.

Almost half of the money will be used in Philadelphia, and the grant is funded by drivers violating traffic laws within the city.

“Grant funding is supplied by fines from red light violations at 36 intersections in Philadelphia,” the release noted.

The money, from the Automated Red-Light Enforcement program, has supported more than 500 projects with more than $127 million since 2010. The grants were competitive, with cities and townships sending in 151 applications.

“Pennsylvania's ARLE program aims to improve safety at signalized intersections by providing automated enforcement at locations where data shows red-light running has been an issue,” the release noted.

Allegheny County was awarded $565,000 to replace traffic signals in Penn Hills and $451,000 for upgrades to pedestrian signals, rewiring and other equipment upgrades in McCandless. Hanover in York County will get $487,000 for traffic congestion and pedestrian safety improvements downtown. And Mercer County was awarded $400,000 for traffic signal and pedestrian improvements in Sharon, and $414,000 for equipment upgrades in Springfield.

Other major grants were $760,000 for traffic signal upgrades in Montgomery County, $465,000 for traffic signal replacements in Lycoming County, and $447,000 for signal replacements in Butler County.

Urban, suburban and rural areas across the commonwealth have a need for traffic safety upgrades. Pedestrian deaths have risen over the last decade, and Pennsylvania has had a 21% increase since 2019, as The Center Square previously reported. Larger vehicles have meant a greater chance of death for pedestrians, critics note.

Alcohol-related crashes in the state hit a five-year low in 2020, while the death toll has been flat.

While red-light cameras have brought millions in new revenues to the state, they have been contentious. Nationally, more than 100 bills have been introduced for red-light and speed cameras each year since 2018, and more than 50 have become law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia allow red-light cameras to be used, but the number of municipalities using them has declined since 2016. Seven states have outright banned them, and the Missouri Supreme Court ruled their use was unconstitutional in 2015.

Critics have argued that the cameras issue too many tickets in error and act as a substitute for better road design that would prioritize safety.

We thank The Center Square for reprint permission.

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