Milwaukee mayor introduces $6 million plan to reduce reckless driving using American Rescue Plan Act funding

NOW: Milwaukee mayor introduces $6 million plan to reduce reckless driving using American Rescue Plan Act funding

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58)-- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced a plan to use $6 million of American Rescue Plan Act Funding to discourage reckless driving in the city.

"As we curb reckless driving, we are improving safety, increasing neighborhood quality of life, and restoring a sense of civility to our roadways," Barrett said.

The money for this plan would come from the $394 million the city is getting in federal funding.

"People should not live in fear of driving on our streets," Steve O'Connell said.

As a resident leader for Safe Driving Coalition MKE, O'Connell sees firsthand the damage reckless driving causes to Milwaukee neighborhoods.

"We went and got two speed humps and a traffic circle," O'Connell said. "The residents paid for this."

That's why he's happy to hear Barrett is stepping up to this issue with $6 million.

Barrett's plan includes physical improvements along 25 miles of Milwaukee streets, such as curb extensions, pedestrian refuge islands, raised crosswalks, pedestrian signals, pavement markings and green infrastructure. These deterrents would make it hard for drivers to speed and pass in the parking lane.

"Those are things that are quick to be designed and really quick to be executed," Milwaukee Public Works Commissioner Jeff Polenske said. "We feel we can get a lot done over the next couple of years."

The planters and delineators added to intersections along 27th Street are an example of what those changes could look like. 

The plan gives a little more than $1 million to Milwaukee police to enforce safe driving. This includes $700,000 for new motorcycles and technology and $500,000 in overtime dollars.

"Anybody who's driven and seen the reckless driving recognizes the presence of police can have a positive impact in reducing reckless driving," Barrett said.

O'Connell thinks Milwaukee residents should have a say in how some of these dollars are distributed.

"If we get to the point where they're going to begin to allot the funds, the residents, engaged individuals from the community, need to be at that table," O'Connell said.

Barrett is deciding how to distribute the about $394 million of federal funds across issues he deems a priority for the city of Milwaukee, including violence prevention, early childhood programs, street lighting improvements and additional business restart investments.

The plan has $3 million going to the 414Life efforts on the city's south side. This would expand opportunities for violence interrupters and educational outreach.

About $1.5 million would be set aside to advance early childhood programs by increasing training and diversity of educators.

He set aside $10 million for streetlight improvements, an issue he hears about from nearly every alderman. The money would upgrade lights from the far north west side to the south side.

Another $7.5 million will assist local businesses in preserving jobs, protecting businesses and neighborhood commerce.

Barrett's plan will go in front of the Milwaukee Common Council this week.

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