ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) — The city of Athens has pledged to make roads safer for its citizens.
Across the country, a growing number of communities are committing to vision zero – the goal of zero traffic deaths or severe injuries. In Athens, city leaders are committing to an initiative that seeks to eliminate all traffic deaths by the year 2040.
“One traffic death is one too many,” Mayor Ronnie Marks said.
The federal initiative “Vision Zero” seeks to prevent these tragedies by taking a proactive, preventative approach that prioritizes traffic safety as a public health issue.
Marks and the Athens City Council agree it’s their dream to cut down on traffic deaths as much as they can. The council passed the joint resolution in May of 2022 and they now want to develop a plan that will help them achieve the goal to reduce traffic deaths by zero by 2040.
“We have three major highways coming through the city of Athens,” Marks said. “We have Interstate 65, Highway 72 and Highway 31 and although we don’t have that many reported traffic fatalities there are some and every single one of them is important to us.
The mayor said the idea is to improve traffic flow and overall safety.
“We’ve had one on Highway 99 recently and one on Highway 72,” Marks said. “So we want to have a plan where we can have proper crossings and develop whatever safety measures that we can to stop the number of traffic fatalities.”
The resolution passed will help open the door for the city to apply for grant funding to improve traffic safety. between 2014 and 2018, the city reported nine traffic-related fatalities. Some people who live here say its about time.
“It’s everywhere basically but here we are growing, traffic is growing, people are not paying attention more accidents everyone’s on their phones,” Athens Resident Francine Wiley said. “We just need to pay attention but mainly get the lights in order so that we can flow well and everything will be good.”
The City of Huntsville adopted the same program a year ago. City leaders are still in the middle of their development process. Athens will establish a safety committee to advise the city council on the development and implementation of the plan.