3 Tips to Optimize Your Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) Action Plan Application

Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) dominated headlines in the road safety space when it was announced in 2022.

The $5 billion grant program is an eagerly anticipated source of funding and a core component of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) strategy to achieve zero roadway deaths across the country. The program represents a shift to the Safe System approach, which underpins Vision Zero, and a commitment to helping communities prioritize safety.

The USDOT released several FAQs and resources for applicants, which is worth taking a look at if you are making an application.

In this blog, we discuss:

  • Grant background and eligibility
  • Three tips to optimize your application
  • How UrbanLogiq can help before and after the award

A brief overview of the Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) program

Whether you are new to the SSFA opportunity or already working on an application, here are the key takeaways that all applicants should know:

There are two types of SS4A grants available: 

  • Action Plan Grants (the focus of this blog) – for agencies requiring funds to develop or complete an Action Plan, or to “conduct supplemental planning activities.”
  • Implementation Grants – for agencies making tangible changes outlined in Action Plans, using a Safe System Approach.

Note: you need to have a qualifying Action Plan in place to be eligible for an Implementation Grant.

The next round for SS4A applications is expected to open in April 2023.

To get the most out of the SS4A program, applicants may make sequential applications – applying for an Action Plan Grant in Year 1 or 2 followed by an Implementation Grant in Year 3 or 4 that builds on the evidence and insights acquired during the planning stage.

Key takeaway: If you’re on the fence, we think it is worth going through the exercise of completing an Action Plan Grant application – and sooner rather than later. Here’s why:

  • Early adopter advantage: While $1 billion annually is a large pot of possible funding, no more than 15% of funds can be awarded to projects in a single State in a given fiscal year.
  • Set up for success: Even if unsuccessful in the first round you apply, applicants who start preparing a data-driven, evidenced approach now will be better positioned for an application in the following round. This will also help applicants’ chances of securing an Implementation Grant before the end of the 5-year program. 

Eligible agencies

The types of eligible agencies are fairly broad. Many applicants in the initial round were multi-jurisdictional partnerships, with the application led by metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs):

  • Metropolitan planning organizations 
  • Counties
  • Cities and towns
  • Transit agencies
  • Special districts (subdivisions of a State)
  • Federally recognized Tribal governments
  • Multi-jurisdictional groups comprised of the above entities (councils, partnerships)

Eligible activities

The focus of Safe Streets and Roads for All opportunity is for communities to take a proactive approach to safety and Vision Zero. Eligible activities under the program reflect this focus: 

  • Developing or updating a comprehensive safety action plan (Action Plan)
  • Conducting activities that support an Action Plan
  • Carrying out projects and strategies identified in an Action Plan (Implementation)

Safe Streets and Roads for All Action Plan components

The primary deliverable for an Action Plan Grant is a publicly available Action Plan. The plan should include the components below.

How much funding can you budget?

Key takeaway: For many of the applicants we are speaking with, the expected minimum of $200,000 for Action Plan Grants seems like a large sum. It is important to note that this is just an expectation, not a literal minimum – applicants can request less, as shown by some of the awards in the first round. Though if your budget is significantly under the minimum, you may want to reflect on whether the core elements of your application are underdeveloped. 

Three tips to optimize your Safe Streets and Roads for All application

As Federal grant processes go, the Action Plan application is relatively straightforward. The key thing is to maximize the benefit this once-in-a-generation funding opportunity brings to your organization. Here are three simple ways to enhance your proposal and align it with the SS4A evaluation criteria.

1. Collaborate and partner to improve outcomes

Collaboration and partnership are consistently referred to in the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). As underscored in the Safe System approach, there is a paradigm shift toward increasing collaboration between all safety stakeholders when it comes to addressing road safety issues. Throughout the NOFO, applicants are encouraged to partner with public and private sector collaborators. This is especially relevant when considering equity, addressing climate change and adopting innovative technologies.

2. Deploy technology for a data-driven approach

The SS4A NOFO emphasizes the need to adopt innovative technologies – not just for optimizing accurate data collection, but also tools that help applicants gain a clearer picture of their roads and measure the impact of safety initiatives more effectively.

When it comes to employing low-cost, high-impact strategies, applicants should consider how adopting new technology can help them to improve road safety in their community. If your application is well under the $200,000 funding minimum, this is an area where it is worth reflecting on whether you are sufficiently leveraging data, insights and technology to improve outcomes.

3. Safety. Equity. Climate. Include all three.

A key sentiment of the program (and one that all applicants should make sure they address in their submission) is to engage more communities and more voices. Grant evaluators will actually be assessing whether applicants have engaged with public and private stakeholders in order to allow for community representation and feedback. The second SS4A selection criterion is dedicated to ensuring that activities will lead to equitable investment in addressing the safety needs of underserved communities. 

How UrbanLogiq can help

This funding program represents an ideal opportunity for governments of all scales and sizes to procure innovative technology and software solutions to improve road safety for their communities. 

Whether you are a city traffic department or an MPO taking the lead on a regional application, UrbanLogiq can help you to move from a reactive approach to a proactive approach to road safety.

Integrated data and insights at your fingertips

Use UrbanLogiq’s Crash Analysis Tool to get a full picture of what is happening on your roads through spatial and predictive analysis of crashes. Identify where your High Injury Networks are and generate insights like the Top 10 most dangerous road segments in your region at the touch of a button.

Crashes along Vision Zero Safety Corridors visualized in the UrbanLogiq platform

Supporting equity considerations

UrbanLogiq has helped several government clients with the identification of underserved communities through data. Our platform enables public officials to assess both population characteristics and the initial equity impacts of proposed projects and strategies.

Helping you to measure your impact and report on your grant funding

Measure the impact and efficacy of safety countermeasures and Vision Zero policies over time using our before and after analysis. UrbanLogiq will help awardees to create a comprehensive reporting framework to measure the outcomes of their grants, including the following:

  • Roadway safety outcomes and any additional benefits
  • Lessons learned and recommendations for future projects or strategies to prevent death and serious injury on roads and streets
  • Aggregated annual crash data on serious injuries and fatalities

Learn More
Contact us today to discuss how we can partner on an SS4A grant, and help you to secure the funding you need to make roads safer in your community.