COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) — The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) will be investing $51 million into new traffic safety improvement projects according to a recent announcement.

Governor Mike DeWine and ODOT Director Dr. Jack Marchbanks announced that ODOT will be investing in traffic safety improvement to specifically address the increase in pedestrian-involved crashes.

ODOT reported that fatal pedestrian-involved crashes and roadway departures hit their highest levels in 2021 when compared to the previous decade. In 2021, 703 people were killed and 3,390 were seriously injured in roadway departure crashes.

“This is a serious problem, and we certainly believe that distracted driving is contributing to this alarming increase in pedestrian-involved and roadway departure crashes,” said Governor DeWine.

Funding totaling $51 million will be given toward 44 roadway safety projects in 32 counties. For local governments, 58% of those funds will be given for projects under their jurisdiction. The remaining funds will be used for projects on ODOT-maintained roads and highways.

“A goal we share with our partners in local government is significantly reducing deaths on Ohio roads, so we must work together to get there,” said ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks.

ODOT projects will include widening roadway shoulders, installing center and edge-line rumble strips and modifying ditches and culverts. Projects will also include installing or improving sidewalks, paths and marked crossings.

Construction timelines will vary for each project, however, some may begin sometime this year.

Funding is made possible through ODOT’s Highway Safety Improvement Program.