City of Willmar awarded $200,000 Safe Streets and Roads for All grant
A $200,000 federal grant to the city of Willmar will be used to complete a citywide Safety Action Plan to address safety, accessibility and equity concerns throughout the city’s transportation system.
WILLMAR — The U.S. Department of Transportation on Feb. 1 announced the city of Willmar was awarded a $200,000 grant through Safe Streets and Roads for All , which will allow the city to complete a citywide Safety Action Plan to address safety, accessibility and equity concerns throughout the city’s transportation system.
Willmar received one of 12 grants awarded to communities in Minnesota, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Transportation. There were 510 grant awards nationwide totaling $800 million.
The competitive grant program, established by President Biden’s infrastructure law, provides $5 billion over five years for regional, local and tribal initiatives — from redesigned roads to better sidewalks and crosswalks — to prevent deaths and serious injuries on the nation’s roadways, according to the news release.
In Willmar’s grant application, which was retroactively approved by the Willmar City Council and submitted in September, it was noted that there were 39 fatal and serious injury crashes and 73 pedestrian- and bicycle-involved crashes within the city during the last 10 years. There was one fatal crash between 2016 and 2020, resulting in a fatality rate of 1.01 per 100,000 residents.
Of those crashes, 69% occurred on local roadways, demonstrating high demand for non-motorized access on local roads and the importance of a city-led planning process, according to the grant application.
The Willmar Safety Action Plan developed with the grant will use data and best practices to improve traffic safety and save lives.
It will study safety concerns and barriers to opportunity that adversely affect low-income communities and communities of Black and Indigenous people of color on roadways, particularly while walking and biking.
It was noted in the grant application that 11% of Willmar’s population lives in a federally recognized Persistent Poverty census tract and Housing and Urban Development Qualified Opportunity Zone , 24% of its residents are people of color and 50% of the population has an annual income of less than $50,000.
The Safety Action Plan will also ensure the accessibility of all pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way in Willmar, where 13% of the residents have a disability, and will implement a city-wide strategic plan to identify projects that improve safety measures and benefit low-income populations as well as Black and Indigenous people of color.
Projects identified in the Safety Action Plan will align with the Minnesota Department of Transportation ’s goals, including reducing vehicle miles traveled by 20% by 2050. It will prioritize non-motorized users and address railroad crossing needs, according to the grant application.
The city of Willmar will utilize public engagement strategies, such as neighborhood pop-up events and online comment mapping tools, to gather support for future projects.
Other applicants receiving awards in Minnesota are the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa; Hennepin County; Rochester-Olmsted Council of Governments; the St Louis County Department of Public Works; and the cities of Columbia Heights, Eagan, Elk River, Monticello, Red Wing, St. Louis Park and Woodbury.