Posts about TIGER
DC was awarded a federal grant today, for $10 million to extend the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail into Maryland. The grant will cover construction for the segment shown as a pink dashed line on this map:
USDOT announced this morning about $500 million in multimodal "TIGER" grants in 47 locations around the US. A combined DC/MD/VA regional application that would have funded $20 million worth of bike/ped projects near Metro stations, as well as bikesharing expansions in Montgomery and Arlington, was not funded. However, DC and MD worked together on one that was.
The winning application received $10 million in federal funds to help pay for a 4-mile extension of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. The project will extend the trail along the east shore of the river, from Benning Road NE, through Kenilworth Gardens, to just shy of Bladensburg Road in Prince George's County. It will include 5 bridge segments, and some raised sections.
At its northern end, it will connect to the already-completed Anacostia River Trail. That trail currently ends just south of Bladensburg, and links to a network of trails in the Anacostia watershed, stretching up the Northeast Branch, Northwest Branch, Indian Creek, Paint Branch, and Sligo Creek.
Bridging this gap will give easier access to cyclists traveling between DC and points in the northeastern part of the region, including College Park and Wheaton.
The TIGER grant process stipulated that some percentage of winners had to be in rural areas. One of those rural awards went to Jefferson County, WV, which is the next county west from Loudoun, and is only about 60 miles from DC. They received $5 million in federal funds to help pay for a $24 million project to convert Fairfax Boulevard through the town of Ranson into a complete street, extend Fairfax Boulevard to a retail area on the edge of town, and build a transit center in downtown Charles Town that when complete will be the transfer location for bus service to nearby MARC stations in Harper's Ferry, WV and Brunswick, MD.
Cross-posted at BeyondDC.
Each of the past three years the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) has allocated hundreds of millions of dollars in grants to local governments, as part of a program called TIGER. Each year the Metropolitan Washington Transportation Planning Board (TPB) puts together an application on behalf of the DC region.
This year, TPB is submitting an application for $24 million that would go towards improving bicycle and pedestrian access to rail stations.
TIGER grants are extremely competitive nationally. The money can be used for almost anything related to transportation, so thousands of applications are submitted every year. USDOT funds the projects it deems most worthy, based on an extensive set of evaluation criteria.
If TPB's submission is funded, the money would go to completing the following projects:
|Fort Totten street improvements||Rebuild 1st Place NE and Galloway Road NE in DC to make them more pedestrian friendly.|
|Forest Glen over/underpass and bikesharing||Construct a grade-separated pedestrian/bicyclist crossing of Georgia Avenue, and establish 10 Capital Bikeshare stations in the Forest Glen neighborhood.|
|New Carrollton street improvements||Sidewalk and crossing improvements at multiple locations around New Carrollton station, in anticipation of future TOD.|
|Twinbrook street improvements||Sidewalk and crossing improvements at multiple locations around Twinbrook station, in anticipation of future TOD.|
|West Hyattsville sidewalks and bike station||Improve sidewalks around West Hyattsville station, and construct a full-service bicycle station similar to the one at Union Station.|
|Pentagon City cycle track and bikesharing||Reconstruct Army Navy Drive to be a complete street, including a two-way cycle track, and add 10 Capital Bikeshare stations to Columbia Pike.|
|VRE bike parking||Add 35 secure bike lockers with capacity for 70 bikes at a total of 8 VRE stations located outside the Beltway.|
Two years ago, during the initial round of TIGER allocations, TPB successfully won a grant for about $60 million worth of bus priority improvements. Last year they requested money for a massive expansion of Capital Bikeshare, but unfortunately did not receive funding. Hopefully the region will be successful again this year.
Montgomery County will get 20 Capital Bikeshare stations in Rockville next year, and is exploring many funding possibilities to expand the program to more parts of the county.
The county council's Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy & Environment committee discussed the issue on Monday. According to the pre-meeting material, the county has been trying to join bike sharing since 2008 when they investigated expanding SmartBike, but Clear Channel was not interested.
In 2009, they joined other jurisdictions in applying for a TIGER grant, which the region didn't win, but they worked with DC and Arlington to craft the CaBi vendor agreement to accommodate including them later. A second application, this time for TIGER II in 2010, made the first cut from 350 programs to 128, but was "not funded due to geographic distribution issues."
Finally, in 2011, the program got funding through a Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) grant to bring 200 bikes and 20 stations to Rockville. Some of the funded stations will go in unincorporated portions of the county around Shady Grove Metro, including the Life Sciences Center. Others will go in Rockville Town Center and areas around the Rockville Metro and MARC station inside the City of Rockville. Montgomery is still awaiting final approval and hope to install the stations in 2012.
The county is now seeking two additional grants: a Maryland DOT grant funded by Federal Congestion Mitigation/Air Quality (CMAQ) money, which would require a 20% local match, and a TIGER III grant request.
In addition, State Senator Brian Frosh hopes to introduce a bill to have the state fund bonds to pay for bike sharing capital costs. The state could also consider tax credits for businesses supporting bike sharing.
Locally, the county could use funds from its parking districts to cover some of the costs. To developers willing to pay for a station, the county could offer density bonuses, reduce parking requirements, reduce payments to parking districts, or include them in Traffic Mitigation Agreements, which the county negotiates with developers around projects in areas like Bethesda. For current building owners, they can also offer tax credits and advertising or sponsorship opportunities.
Montgomery County is clearly dedicated to expanding bike sharing and, despite tight budgets, has identified many options to achieve that goal. Will any of them pan out in the immediate future? We can hope.
The US Department of Transportation has announced a third round of its TIGER grant program. Critics of TIGER, like CEI's Marc Scribner, are again bashing the program, this time because it focuses on "livability" instead of exclusively pushing driving.
To Scribner, driving everywhere is what real Americans want, while anyone who prefers the ability to walk to stores and parks is just following a "fad" that's best mocked with the tired old anti-urban tropes like "schlepping organic groceries" and "yuppies slumming in 1980s New York."
He criticizes TIGER for not giving more money to car infrastructure even though it got more funding than any other mode, and calls past TIGER projects "duds" just because they don't meet his personal goals while achieving just what the cities and states, and people living there, had hoped. Who's pushing a lifestyle now?
Scribner's first criticism is that not enough money is going to cars, the mode he wants to put above all. He writes, "When TIGER II grants were announced, only a third of funding went to road projects. 'Livability,' you see, really means, 'go to hell, drivers!'"
If getting one third of transportation money is being told to go to hell, cyclists would love to be asked to go there.
While he is correct that roads only got 29% of the money, what he doesn't mention is that it got more than any other mode, which hardly sounds like the anti-car agenda he makes it out to be. Roads received 29 percent of TIGER II funding, while 26 percent went to transit, 20 percent to rail, 16 percent to ports, four percent to bicycle and pedestrian projects, and five percent for planning grants.
In TIGER I, the three largest projects were freight rail projects. Perhaps Scibner thinks moving freight more efficiently is "anti-mobility."
And some projects that aren't labelled as "road" projects will actually improve driving. For example, the CREATE project in Chicago, which received money in TIGER I, lists "reducing motorist delay due to rail conflict at grade crossings" as one of their top goals.
Thus, it's laughable to state that roads and drivers are being ignored, but for Scribner getting anything less than 100% of the money is to be ignored. State and local DOTs see it differently. In the first round of TIGER funding, only 57% of the money applied for was for roads.
Scribner makes much of the fact that some modes of transportation are used by a small group. Only 5.5% of commuters in Salt Lake City, which won money for a streetcar, use transit. Only 0.3% of commuters bike commute in Fayettville, AR, which won a grant for a 36-mile bike trail.
But this only proves that we've done a lousy job of creating choices. We built entire regions of our country around driving, built roads designed to maximize driver speed, didn't bother with sidewalks or creating roads that invited cyclists, created a fractured and slow transit system and look, now no one takes transit or walks or bikes. That no one uses a non-existent option is not evidence that the option shouldn't exist.
Scribner's other criticism is that the process uses livability as a standard for making grants. In his usual self-contradictory style, he frequently refers to "livability" as vague and meaningless, while simultaneously linking to a USDOT definition of the term.
"We want to base our decisions on how much transit helps the environment, how much it improves development opportunities and how it makes our communities better places to live."
(That same link is tied to the words "all sorts of silly investments" even though the author at the link only worries that it will cause silly investments. There is no evidence of such investments. One person's worries hardly constitutes fact.)
USDOT even has a detailed website that more clearly defines what livability means.
And there's a technical reason why livability matters for these grants. In TIGER II, HUD kicked in $40 million to encourage transit-oriented development (one part of livability according to DOT's definition).
Scribner refers to the Razorback Greenway and Salt Lake City Streetcar as "duds" which, considering that neither has finished construction yet, is a bit premature. To Scribner, even if both projects meet or exceed the goals outlined in their TIGER grant applications they'll be duds because they don't meet his goals. It's like calling the Apollo program a dud because it didn't cure cancer.
But $15 million for a 36 mile transportation project compares pretty favorably to something like the 18-mile, $2.566 billion Intercounty Connector. The Greenway will only need 321 users per day to match the user/dollar ratio of the ICC.
Luckily, USDOT is moving away from the windshield perspective of Marc Scribner, and TIGER III has the potential to be a real success, as long as you don't define success only in terms of moving cars.
The Metropolitan Washington Transportation Planning Board reported Wednesday that there will be a third round of the federal government's TIGER transportation grant program.
The popular and extremely competitive grants can be used for almost any transportation idea, provided applicants make the case that their projects deserve funding.
The recently-passed federal budget deal includes $528 million for a new installment of the program, which is expected to be announced formally along with a solicitation for applications some time in early summer. Submissions would most likely be due in late summer, with funding decisions probably coming in winter.
It's expected that the new program will very closely mirror last year's $600 million version, including the 80-20 federal-local match requirement and the merit-based project scoring. One expected difference will be that the new program may exclude planning and design projects in order to focus exclusively on construction and implementation.
The Washington region was awarded a grant for bus improvements in round one, and applied for but didn't receive a grant for bikesharing in round two. However, the TIGER II bikesharing application was apparently one of the highest-scoring nationally not to receive funding, so it might be prudent to simply try the same thing again.
In any event, this will be a major program to watch. The TPB will almost certainly put forth a regional application, and most of the local jurisdictions will probably apply for projects separately as well.
Cross-posted at BeyondDC.
When Capital Bikeshare launches later this year it will have about 1,100 bikes. That's going to be great, but how much better does a 3,600-bike system sound?
On Friday the Transportation Planning Board (TPB) submitted a grant request through the TIGER II program to dramatically expand Capital Bikeshare. In addition to the 1,000 bikes in DC and 100 in Arlington that will launch the system, TPB's proposal would add approximately:
- Another 1,000 new bikes to the District, for a total of 2,000
- 900 new bikes in Arlington, for a total of around 1,000
- 150 bikes in Alexandria
- 100 bikes in Reston
- 250 bikes in Montgomery County, in and around downtowns Bethesda, Silver Spring, and Rockville
- 50 bikes in College Park
- In addition to bikesharing, the proposal requests funds for new bike stations in Reston and Silver Spring
Bikesharing has the potential to revolutionize intra-urban travel. Cities that have rolled out large networks have seen dramatic increases in cycling as transportation. But the size of the system really matters. SmartBikeDC was clearly far too small, and while Capital Bikeshare's 1,100 bike system is a good start that will have dramatic effects in a few key neighborhoods, we're going to need a much larger system if we want to see Paris-like results. This TIGER grant, if we get it, would be a fantastic step towards that goal.
Last year the TPB submitted a much larger multi-modal TIGER request that included bikesharing, but was only awarded funds for bus improvements. This year's submission is focused completely on cycling.
Cross-posted at BeyondDC.
The TIGER grants announced today mean that, instead of bus priority scraping along as a good idea without any serious attention, we'll get bus lanes, signal priority, NextBus displays, and more in short order.
I admit I was mildly disappointed to hear the results, because I was particularly excited about the K Street Transitway and the regional bike sharing program. Also, about a third of the total goes to one of the freeway bus projects which I'm very skeptical about.
However, the region received the sixth largest single grant in the TIGER program, and USDOT chose to fund a grant worked out through cooperation between area governments instead of other area applications like MWAA's Loudoun road-widening schemes. Several states got nothing at all.
Most importantly, federal money has a way of really focusing DOTs' attention. WMATA has been suggesting bus priority corridor improvements and issuing studies on the matter for years. We've written about it numerous times. Before the recession, DOTs generally said they liked the idea but were too busy to work on it, and then they got their budgets cut and had no money to work on it. Now that there's money, they're sure going to work on it.
What do we get? Lines have a combination of elements. Most lines in DC, Maryland, and Fairfax get small upgrades to make existing service a little more efficient or pleasant. Queue jump lanes in some areas will let buses bypass congestion at busy intersections. Some signals will get special bus left turn phases, and other lines will get signal priority. Many bus stops will get digital arrival displays showing NextBus information.
A number of Virginia projects focused on substantial upgrades to fewer lines. US-1 along Potomac Yard will get a dedicated busway, and Alexandria will also build a rapid bus line possibly to become a dedicated right-of-way. The access routes from Virginia to K Street along 18th/19th and 14th involve installing signal priority and bus-mounted cameras to facilitate bus-only lanes, some of which would have to involve local money.
One particular benefit is that WMATA should be able to quantify the cost savings and service improvements that come from the signal priority and queue jumpers, and use that data to make the case for more of them around the region.
BeyondDC has a good table of projects showing the dollar values for each project and pulled out the descriptions from each:
- 16th Street Bus Priority Improvements: Proposed capital improvements include a queue jump lane, NextBus real time passenger information displays at 17 stop locations, and transit signal priority/traffic system management (left turn phase for bus) at a number of intersections.
- Georgia Avenue Bus Priority Improvements: Improvements include completing TSP implementation at several intersections, bulb-outs, and nearly 30 stop locations enhanced with NextBus real time arrival technology. Additionally, a bus only lane would be constructed on Georgia Avenue for short span.
- H Street/Benning Road Bus Priority Improvements: A left turn phase for buses at a busy intersection, a queue jump lane, and NextBus real time arrival technology displays at 22 bus stop locations. These improvements support future streetcar plans.
- Wisconsin Avenue Bus Priority Improvements: Capital improvements include transit signal priority and/or traffic signal management at a number of intersections and NextBus real time arrival technology deployed to a number of express service stop locations.
- Addison Road Improvements: Bus shelters along the existing P12 bus route will be upgraded with NextBus realtime arrival prediction displays.
- University Boulevard Bus Priority Improvements: Improvements include four queue jump lanes, transit signal priority at around 20 intersections, and a number of bus stop enhancements, such as the deployment of NextBus technology. This project will support planned light rail transit, such as the Purple Line, and will utilize the Takoma Langley Transit Center also included in this proposal.
- U.S. Route 1 Bus Priority Improvements: Capital improvements proposed include queue jump lanes and transit signal priority at several intersections.
- Veirs Mill Bus Priority Improvements: Capital improvements include a queue jump lane and NextBus real time bus arrival displays at several stations along the route.
- Potomac Yard Transitway: Bus transitway in the median of US 1 within Alexandria city limits, providing exclusive right of way for buses. Other funding sources have been identified to provide passenger amenities, such as transitway stations and new buses. Alexandria's portion of the Crystal City / Potomac Yard Transitway, a joint facility with Arlington. Arlington's portion is already funded.
- VA 7 (Leesburg Pike) Bus Priority Improvements: Improvements include NextBus displays at several express service bus stops and transit signal priority at a number of intersections along the corridor.
- Van Dorn-Pentagon Rapid Bus: New rapid bus service in the City of Alexandria from the Van Dorn Metrorail Station in the City of Alexandria to the Pentagon. It will incorporate limited stop service, signal prioritization, super stops, and possibly queue jump lanes; however, the City of Alexandria eventually seeks to build exclusive bus lanes on Van Dorn Street. This project is being developed partly to support a the Mark Center BRAC facility opening at Seminary Road and I-395 by September 2011.
- Theodore Roosevelt Bridge to K Street Bus Priority Improvements: This corridor is a major access point for commuters into the Washington D.C. central business district, and would receive complimentary transit signal priority and bus mounted enforcement cameras along E Street, northbound 18th Street, and southbound 19th Street. Local money may be provided for dedicated curbside bus lanes, if deemed feasible.
- 14th Street Bus Priority Improvements: This is a major access point for commuters into the Washington D.C. central business district, and includes complimentary transit signal priority and bus mounted enforcement cameras along 14th Street from the bridge to K Street. Bus only lanes may be included along 14th Street to south of Constitution Ave, which is consistent with a current federal EIS process to reconfigure the bridge in concert with HOT lane development on I-395 south of the bridge. Local money may be provided to extend the bus only lanes to K Street.
- I-95/395 Multimodal Improvements: Station improvements at Pentagon Station and Franconia/Springfield Station, including bus bays, real time bus information, and traffic circulation/access/security improvements. Major technology improvements include a mobile web application for real-time bus information, bus information display, cameras outfitted on 40 buses, computer-aided dispatch and automatic vehicle location technology. Finally, this component includes the retirement of 13 buses, replacing them with state-of-the-art clean-fuel technology.
- Takoma/Langley Transit Center: This bustling intersection is one of the busiest transit locations in the DC area, however bus stops are currently scattered far from each other at different locations around the intersection. The new transit center will consolidate all the bus stops at the intersection into one facility. This will eliminate the need for transferring passengers to cross wide and busy roads where there is an unfortunate history of vehicles colliding with pedestrians. This will also provide a permanent and visible transit amenity. Through new bus bays, pedestrian walkways, a full canopy, restrooms, lighting, and bus information, the transit center will ultimately provide a safe, attractive, comfortable and efficient facility for passengers and for bus transfer activities, and will also improve pedestrian safety, accessibility, and connections to bus services in an area that is largely low income and transit dependent.
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