Senator Markey Legislation Tackles Skyrocketing Roadway Safety and Climate Crisis

In 2021, transportation sector was largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the U.S.

 2022 was the deadliest year for pedestrians in more than 40 years

Washington (January 25, 2024) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety, reintroduced two bills to address roadway safety and the climate crisis. The Complete Streets Act, introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), would improve the safety and accessibility of transportation routes across the nation. The Generating Resilient, Environmentally Exceptional National (GREEN) Streets Act, cosponsored by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Congressman Jared Huffman (CA-02), would establish national goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the national highway system. 

“It’s time for the roadway safety crisis and the climate crisis to come to a full and screeching stop,” said Senator Markey. “From the streets to the highways, we must greenlight comprehensive investments to build a climate-resilient, safer, and more accessible national roadway system that works for all people. I will continue to fight for bigger and bolder transportation opportunities so that we can drive full speed ahead into an era of equitable and reliable transportation that provides critical services and protects our planet.” 

Today, Senator Markey and his colleagues reintroduced two bills, including: 

  • The Complete Streets Act, along with Congressman Cohen and cosponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), would make roads safer and more accessible by ensuring that states direct a portion of their federal highway funding towards the creation of a Complete Streets Program. A “Complete Street” provides safe and accessible transportation options for children, seniors, and people with disabilities by prioritizing infrastructure for pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit users. Under the Complete Streets Act, eligible local and regional entities can use funds from their state’s Complete Streets Program for technical assistance and capital funding to build safe street projects such as sidewalks, bike lanes, crosswalks, and bus stops.The legislation would also phase in a requirement for states to incorporate Complete Streets elements into all new construction and reconstruction. The legislation is endorsed by the National Complete Streets Coalition, Transportation for America, the LivableStreets Alliance, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, and the League of American Bicyclists.
  • The Generating Resilient, Environmentally Exceptional National (GREEN) Streets Act, along with Senator Merkley and Congressman Huffman, would establish goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the national highway system and help states adapt their transportation systems to the adverse effects of climate change. Since 2016, the transportation sector has been the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the nation, accounting for over 28 percent of total emissions. The GREEN Streets Act is endorsed by nearly 100 grassroots transit and environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Coalition for Transit Justice, Union of Concerned Scientists, and the LivableStreets Alliance. The full list of endorsing organizations can be found here.

“Every person has the right to be safe when traveling on our roads, no matter how they choose to get around—but for people outside of a car, that’s often more of a pipe dream than reality,” said Benito Pérez, Policy Director at Transportation for America. “We applaud Senator Markey and Representative Cohen for their leadership in introducing the Complete Streets Act. By offering state-level grants to design and build Complete Streets, this bill provides a tangible step forward to improving safety, accessibility, and health outcomes for all road users.”

“At the local level, cities and towns have been doing their part to reduce emissions and make our streets safer, greener, and more livable. However, without standard at the federal level, progress has been uneven. These bills fill that critical gap. We are so grateful for Senator Markey’s leadership and partnership and look forward to working with him to advance these important bills,” said Stacy Thompson, Executive Director at LivableStreets Alliance. 

“Transportation is the largest source of emissions in the United States, and the effects of the climate crisis are becoming more obvious every day. This bill will not only build on DOT’s existing authority to ensure that states increase transparency and accountability on greenhouse gases, but also encourage them to prioritize investments in reliable, safe, and affordable transportation options like public transit,” said Shruti Vaidyanathan, Director of Federal and State Transportation Advocacy at Natural Resources Defense Council. 

“The GREEN Streets Act is vital legislation which will alleviate greenhouse gas emissions from the nation’s roads, enhance access and connectivity in communities, and promote environmental justice and climate resilience in our transportation systems. The climate crisis is not coming. It is here now. Senator Markey’s bill is an important step towards addressing the crisis on the scale that is needed,” said LeeAnn Hall, Director of Alliance at a Just Society of the National Campaign for Transit Justice.

In November 2023, ahead of the two-year Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) anniversary, Senators Markey and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) celebrated the DOT’s announcement that it has awarded the City of Brockton more than $7 million in federal funding—through Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grants—to improve roadway safety downtown. In June 2022, Senator Markey led his colleagues in a letter to Secretary Pete Buttigieg, highlighting the skyrocketing rates of motor vehicle fatalities and the need for swift action to reverse this disturbing trend.