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Will a $23M Grant Actually Make Savannah’s Roads Safer?

Due to the increasing number of severe and fatal car accidents on Savannah’s highways and local roadways, the city has requested a very hefty grant. The goal of this grant is to make Savannah’s roads safer for both residents and visitors.

According to an article published by The Current, the city of Savannah applied for a $23,274,784 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation in July 2023. District 4 Alderman, Nick Palumbo, recently stated that the objective of this large grant is to help the city combat  present problems which may be leading to more traumatic and devastating car accidents.

There are two main issues that this grant will help focus on, which are:

The Tide to Town project: The Tide to Town project is one of the largest projects that Savannah is currently working on. In fact, it has already received around $10 million from hotel-motel taxes, but the city still needs more funding to complete this project. Once complete, it would stretch across 30 miles of the city and provide a direct connection between River Street, West Savannah, and Southside while also trailing next to the Harry S. Truman Parkway and forming a loop.

In addition, there would be additional funding added to provide a separate area and facility for pedestrians and bicyclists on Middleground Road, which would join Abercorn Street and Middleground Road together. The reason that this area was chosen is because there have been many pedestrian fatalities on Middleground Road in recent years. Palumbo, the Alderman, said, “The objective is not just about connectivity, but to provide mobility and transportation solutions for individuals who choose to get where they need to be without a car – and safely.”

The intersections on 37th Street: The city hopes that after completing the Tide to Town project, there will be about half of the $23 million grant left over. This half of the grant would be used to improve approximately 15 different intersections on 37th Street. The reason that these intersections need improvements is because they are a risk to automobile drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Some of the various improvements that would be added or fixed are left hand turn bays; yellow light timing; additional lighting and markings at crosswalks; new sidewalks and pathways; additional on-street parking; and an added head start time frame for pedestrians who are at a crosswalk.

The city of Savannah first submitted  the application for this grant in 2022. At that time, Atlanta was given the grant over Savannah, but officials are hoping that Savannah will have a better chance at receiving the grant this time.

Why are Savannah’s streets so unsafe?

A news report released by WSAV states that “The City of Savannah averages about 22 traffic deaths annually, whether it’s a pedestrian or cyclist-involved accident.” The city’s officials have acknowledged and taken note of this issue and hope that the grant will help them fix this recurring problem. Here are six reasons why Savannah’s streets are believed to be so unsafe:

  1. Heavy traffic and tourism: In 2021, the city of Savannah saw more than 15 million visitors. This is a large number of visitors for a smaller city. While this may be great for businesses in the area, it is terrible for those driving and commuting from place to place. In fact, many residents are complaining and comparing the city to Disney World. As a result, Savannah is known to have heavy traffic, especially in certain areas. This causes the streets to be unsafe for many as car accidents typically increase due to traffic.
  2. Downtown congestion: The downtown area easily becomes congested with visitors and locals out and about. During rush hours, the downtown area can begin to look like a parking lot as traffic comes to a standstill. This is frustrating to many drivers, causing road rage and more traffic-related accidents.
  3. Several turn lanes: Some of the intersections in Savannah have several turn lanes, which can also lead to more accidents. When there are multiple turn lanes at an intersection, drivers are more likely to make errors and mistakes as well as get distracted by other drivers in other lanes.
  4. Visibility and distraction problems: Savannah is filled with many thriving businesses. However, these businesses can cause visibility and distraction problems for drivers. Therefore, when Savannah drivers are navigating certain areas with a lot of businesses, they must avoid all distractions as much as possible and try to fully focus on the roads. This is a bigger issue in specific areas, causing more serious collisions with pedestrians and other drivers.
  5. High numbers of bicyclists and pedestrians with no accommodation for them: Savannah is a a popular place to visit throughout the year. As a result, there are almost always high numbers of pedestrians and bicyclists walking and biking in the downtown and historic districts as well as many other areas throughout Savannah. Due to the high numbers of pedestrians and bicyclists around Savannah, more crashes are occurring. Unfortunately, the issue in this case is that officials have not taken the safety of the pedestrians and bicyclists into account, leading to “little to no bike and pedestrian accommodations” for them. For example, some of the streets and intersections lack bicycle lanes, crosswalks, and emergency shoulders, causing serious and fatal accidents among pedestrians and bicyclists around the area.
  6. Dangerous intersections: One of Savannah’s most dangerous intersections – which is historically known to be prone to accidents – is located at 37th and MLK,. However, there are more than a dozen other intersections throughout the city that are hazardous for drivers and pedestrians. A few of the reasons why these intersections are dangerous is because they have too many lanes going in various directions, poor designs, traffic congestion, visibility problems, narrow lanes, construction, and more.

If you suffer injuries from a car accident in Savannah, GA, the car accident lawyers at Harris Lowry Manton LLP are here to help. Our team will happily look over your car accident claim and go over your legal options with you. Fill out our contact form to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today. We have offices in both Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia for your convenience, and we look forward to speaking with you soon.

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