A $293 million investment announced on July 8 by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood means that residents in dozens of communities nationwide will soon enjoy major transit improvements, including new streetcars, buses and transit facilities.
The nearly $300 million investment is part of the Obama administration’s livability initiative to better coordinate transportation, housing and commercial development investments to serve the people living in those communities. It is being made through two competitive grant programs, the Urban Circulator Grant Program and the Bus and Bus Livability Grant Program.
“This investment by the Obama administration in our nation's communities will create jobs, boost economic development and recovery, and further reduce our dependence on oil,” LaHood said. “Our goals are to provide cleaner, safer and more efficient ways to get around.”
LaHood, along with Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff, announced the winners of the two competitive grant programs during a press conference call in Washington. Six new streetcar and bus rapid transit projects will be funded with $130 million from the Federal Transit Administration's Urban Circulator Program, and 47 additional projects aimed at upgrading bus services and facilities are slated to receive more than $163 million from the FTA's Bus and Bus Livability Program.
“Streetcars are making a comeback because cities across America are recognizing that they can restore economic development downtown–giving citizens the choice to move between home, shopping and entertainment without ever looking for a parking space,” said Rogoff. “These streetcar and bus livability projects will not only create construction jobs now, they will aid our recovery by creating communities that are more prosperous and less congested.”
The six cities that submitted successful Urban Circulator proposals include Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas; Chicago; St. Louis; Charlotte, N.C.; and Cincinnati. The six projects were selected from 65 applications totaling more than $1 billion in requests. Construction of bus facilities and new bus and bus-related purchases will move forward in the 31 states where 47 Bus and Bus Livability projects are located. These projects were selected from 281 applications totaling over $2 billion in funding requests.
Inaugurated in December 2009, the two programs are a continuation of the FTA's effort dedicated to carrying out the Obama administration’s Livability Initiative, a joint venture of the U.S. DOT, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Projects were eligible to receive up to 80% in federal funding, with a maximum of $25 million for Urban Circulator projects.
A complete list of projects can be found at http://www.fta.dot.gov/news/news_events_11820.html