Safety First: Allentown Leading the Charge in Road Safety Transformation

Allentown, Pennsylvania – A city where the streets have witnessed their fair share of pedestrian tragedies. In 2022 alone, more than 7,500 pedestrians lost their lives across America. Allentown recorded four pedestrian deaths that year, followed by another four the next year. Additionally, eight individuals lost their lives in vehicle crashes, while 60 others sustained severe injuries.

Mayor Matt Tuerk of Allentown prioritizes transportation safety above all else. In his State of the City address, he outlined the city’s ambitious goal of achieving zero road fatalities and serious injuries by 2030. This daunting challenge is made slightly easier by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which allocates $5 billion in municipal grants through its Safe Streets and Roads for All program.

One organization that has been instrumental in helping smaller cities like Allentown access federal grants is Bloomberg Philanthropies. Through the Local Infrastructure Hub, they offer grant-writing training to municipalities with a special focus on those with populations below 150,000. This initiative has already assisted over 1,300 towns and cities nationwide, helping Allentown secure a $312,000 Safe Streets grant.

The grant funding will enable Allentown to analyze how its current traffic patterns contribute to accidents and fatalities. The city’s road system, designed decades ago, now poses significant challenges as it isolates communities and fosters accidents. For instance, the one-way streets implemented in the 1940s and ’50s have become barriers between neighborhoods, promoting fast driving and frequent accidents.

Beyond safety concerns, Mayor Tuerk is also focused on creating greater equity among Allentown’s diverse population. With over half of the city’s residents being Hispanic and 13% Black, and one-fifth living below the poverty level, ensuring a transportation system that caters to the entire community is paramount for fostering shared prosperity.

By leveraging federal investment opportunities and receiving pro-bono support, Allentown is making strides in improving its infrastructure to meet the needs of its residents. The mayor emphasizes the importance of collaboration across all levels of government and society to drive positive change. Seeking a second federal grant to further their redesign plans, Allentown will continue to partner with the Local Infrastructure Hub for assistance.

Mayor Tuerk’s call to action extends beyond Allentown, urging mayors across Pennsylvania and the nation to embrace a collaborative approach to infrastructure development. Amidst the funding and support available, he emphasizes the significance of evidence-based decision-making and storytelling in securing resources and driving progress for communities.