Yesterday, the hard fought for Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) stimulus grants were awarded to applicants around the country. These were $1.5 billion worth of for innovative transportation ideas, and boy was there fierce competition. Requests for funds were about 40 times the $1.5 billion available. I’m pleased to say the local DC region benefited from one of these grants, including my college town of College Park. We were awarded one of the largest grants for bus transit, which can be found on page 14 of the TIGER grant recipients list.
Here is the description for the project:
Name: Priority Bus Transit in the National Capital Region Location: District of Columbia, Maryland & Virginia Sponsor: Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments
TotalCost: $83,008,000 TIGER Funding: $58,838,000
Significantly improves the performance of the region’s transportation network, providing more choices to more travelers, including low-income and transit-dependent residents
Reflects extensive, multi-jurisdictional planning efforts
Many of the areas to be served by these projects are economically distressed areas
Project Description: The project will provide more efficient bus service along 13 transit corridors in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., by investing in a bus transitway, bus-only lanes, transit signal priority, traffic signal management, real-time arrival technology and other enhancements. TIGER funds will be used to construct a new transit center at the intersection of University Boulevard and New Hampshire Avenue on the border of Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties in Maryland which will consolidate scattered bus stops at a heavily used bus transfer point into one facility. TIGER funds will also provide station improvements (bus bays, real time bus information and other improvements) supporting bus priority on the I-95/395 corridor.
Project Benefits: The priority bus transit corridors will significantly improve the performance of existing infrastructure and will provide more efficient and timely access to economically distressed populations, connecting them to job centers throughout the region.The project increases transportation choices and makes riding transit more appealing. Consolidating bus stops at the new Takoma/Langley Transit Center will eliminate the need for dangerous and time-consuming transfers. TIGER funds will provide new bus bays, pedestrian walkways, a full canopy, restrooms, lighting and bus information. The transit center will be a safe, attractive, comfortable and efficient facility for passengers and bus transfer activities in a largely low-income, transit-dependent area.
The blog Rethink College Park has a good description of how these dollars will be spent:
“Construction is planned to begin ASAP and take about two years. Part of the federal money will go towards consolidating bus stops at a new Takoma/Langley Transit Center at University Boulevard and New Hampshire Avenue ($12.3 million – photos HERE). That project will not only improve buses, but will pave the way for the Purple Line. According to BeyondDC, almost $1 million will go towards improvements to Route 1 between Rhode Island Avenue Metro Station and Laurel. It is unclear whether bus improvements will be like the “super-stops” (pictured above) envisioned in the 2008 City-contracted transportation study of Route 1 in College Park (RTCP discussion/analysis HERE). Another $1 million will support similar investments on University Boulevard in conjunction with the transit center:
- 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.
- U.S. Route 1 Bus Priority Improvements: Capital improvements proposed include queue jump lanes and transit signal priority at several intersections.
- 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.
Unfortunately, I was also rooting for the $10 million dollar grant request for a massive regional bike sharing program for the DC region that College Park would’ve benefited from. This program would’ve included 1600 bikes and 160 stations. Apparently, there’s a second round of $600 million dollars in grants on the way in the coming months, so hopefully this souped up bike sharing system will be a winner there.
It’s a shame there’s so little money available for so many great projects that have been proposed. The criteria used to judge TIGER grants are what should be used to judge all transportation projects in the stimulus. Here are the five basic goals which the projects were evaluated on….
• A state of good repair for our existing transportation facilities
• Enhanced economic competitiveness
• Safer streets and communities
• Environmental sustainability
• Enhanced community livability
Another interesting TIGER success story is by the East Coast Greenway blog, whose route received the largest bike grant.