WASHINGTON — Pennsylvania U.S. Senator John Fetterman on Thursday sent a new letter to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) pushing for an updated street safety framework to deal with the “unconscionable safety crisis” on Pennsylvania streets. This follows a letter Fetterman sent earlier in the week with Senators Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., pressuring the Attorney General and Secretary of Transportation to set standards for accessibilities in sidewalks and crosswalks under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Overall, the letters address a priority of Fetterman to make cities and towns across Pennsylvania and America safer for pedestrians. Fetterman touches on the personal stories of pedestrians who have been killed by cars on unsafe streets, including Latanya Byrd, a Philadelphian whose niece and three sons were killed as they crossed Roosevelt Boulevard.
In his letter to FHWA, Fetterman writes, “More than 42,000 Americans died in roadway deaths in 2021 — more than the entire population of State College, Pa., and a forty-year high. This number has grown every year, increasing 10% from 2020 even as driving decreased during the pandemic. No comparable nation sees this kind of death toll.”
In Pennsylvania alone, 1,426 pedestrian deaths occurred between 2012 and 2020.
The letter pushes FHWA to implement new traffic safety regulations under the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), guidelines set by the Department of Transportation, to increase walkability and keep pedestrians safer.
In his letters to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Fetterman called on their respective agencies to finalize the Public Rights-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines (PROWAG), which have sat in draft form for more than 20 years. PROWAG would help to ensure that American streets are ADA accessible. In the letters, Fetterman cites images of unnavigable streets that constituents in Erie have shared.
In the letters to the agencies, Fetterman writes: “Implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) means that streets across the country will finally receive the attention that they have sorely needed, but we should not invest taxpayer dollars into roads and other infrastructure that fail to meet the needs of all Americans.”
The letter to FHWA can be found at https://www.fetterman.senate.gov/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/Fetterman-MUTCD-Letter.pdf, and the letter to the DOJ at https://www.fetterman.senate.gov/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/PROWAG-Letter-DOJ.pdf and to the DOT at https://www.fetterman.senate.gov/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/PROWAG-Letter-DOT.pdf .