RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Cities across North Carolina are getting help to make roads safer for everyone. The United States Department of Transportation is giving more than $8 million to cut down on traffic deaths as part of the Safe Streets for All Grant Program.

In Central North Carolina, Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville, Knightdale, and Triangle J Council of Governments, are receiving money for action plans.

“Action plan grants assist communities that do not currently have a roadway safety plan in place to reduce roadway fatalities, laying the groundwork for a comprehensive set of actions,” said the USDOT release.

Over the summer, Raleigh’s transportation department officially adopted Vision Zero, an initiative to cut down on traffic deaths that cities nationwide have implemented. Raleigh received $800,000 to help form its Vision Zero plan.

“Receiving the $800,000 grant award from the USDOT for the development of a Comprehensive Safety Action Plan is a monumental step for the City of Raleigh in moving the needle towards our goal of Vision Zero,” said Sean Driskill Raleigh’s Vision Zero Program Manager. 

At-Large City Council Member Jonathan Melton said Vision Zero was one of the first initiatives he took up when he joined the council in 2019. He called the grant a huge leap forward.

The City’s Transportation Department will present an overview of Vision Zero to the City Council during the February 14th work session.

“I’m looking for some short-term fixes we can implement immediately, if possible, to address some of these increase in pedestrian incidents and fatalities, and then obviously we need a long-term goal, that long-term goal would be zero incidents,” Melton said.

In 2022, 27 pedestrians were hit and killed in Raleigh compared to 10 in 2021 and 13 in 2020, according to the Raleigh Police Department.

The City of Durham and a regional group that represents Durham, Chapel Hill and surrounding communities (DCHC MPO) will get $400,000.

“The grant will fund development of an Action Plan to improve safety on the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro (DCHC) region’s transportation network and continue progress toward the City of Durham’s Vision Zero goal of eliminating fatalities and serious injuries on our streets,” said Durham’s Director of Transportation Sean C. Egan.

Hillsborough Mayor Jenn Weaver is the Board Chair of DCHC-MPO.

“This grant will allow us to create a comprehensive plan covering all our member jurisdictions that when put to practice will make our area roads and streets safer for all users,” said Weaver “We are thrilled to be a recipient and look forward to engaging with community partners on the plan. 

John Tallmadge is the Executive Director of Bike Durham. He said his group has been pushing for this action plan. He said an action plan could entail looking at data and receiving feedback from community members to prioritize what issues need to be tackled first. He said the plan could also look at what changes need to be made at the street and at the policy level.

He said some ways to make streets safer are slowing cars down, protected bike lanes, and more sidewalks.

“That’s the whole notion of Vision Zero, is to redesign our transportation system so that when mistakes are made people don’t die, and you need an action plan in order to achieve that,” Tallmadge said.

Durham’s Director of Transportation said making this Action Plan is an important first step to getting larger funding opportunities from USDOT that would allow them to implement the actual projects aimed at cutting down on traffic fatalities. For example, Charlotte received a $4.4 million implementation grant to help implement its Vision Zero strategies.