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Highland Council considers applying for federal grant to pave way for future road safety projects

Safe Streets and Roads for All grant program
Safe Streets and Roads for All grant program

The town of Highland is looking to improve some of its most dangerous roads.

Town council member Roger Sheeman says the intersection of 45th and Spring streets is considered dangerous by federal standards. "So, if you've ever gone by that way on 45th . . . there's traffic, there's always somebody turning, [traffic is] backing up," Sheeman said during a study session Monday.

But possible upgrades like turn lanes or a stoplight could cost millions of dollars.

Now, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has made billions of dollars available for projects aiming to prevent roadway deaths and serious injuries through the Safe Streets and Roads for All program. But before Highland can apply for implementation grants for specific projects, it has to develop a safety action plan.

The program has funding available to help with that, too. To apply for that grant, the town is looking to hire a consultant to help with the application, for a cost of up to $9,800.

Redevelopment Director Maria Becerra told council members that Gary, Hammond and East Chicago got planning grants during the first round last year, and she's optimistic for Highland's chances this year. "It was a lot of money that was left on the table. A lot of communities didn't apply," Bacerra explained. "So the chances of getting funding, I think, would be good."

But council member Mark Schocke was hesitant about spending $9,800 on an outside consultant. "Why spend a bunch of money on the expert if it's a pretty low bar, right? Just do a reasonable job: cross all the T's, dot all the I's," Schocke said.

As a first step, the Highland Town Council will consider whether to appropriate the funding to hire a consultant to put together the planning grant application, during its meeting next Monday.