“How did it get so late so soon? It's night before it's afternoon.” - Dr. Seuss
By Gina Biber, news editor
- The Capitol Hill Times -
There is an endless supply of needed and costly transportation repairs and improvements around Capitol Hill, particularly for alternative forms of getting around. The new Transportation Alternatives Program offers funding to close the gap.
For many years, SAFETEA-LU funded a program called the Transportation Enhancement Program, which gave money to non-traditional transportation projects, like community improvements, bicycle and pedestrian activities, the historic preservation of transportation facilities, visitor museums and welcome centers. Then, last July, when congress passed the Federal Transportation Act, the Enhancement Program was replaced by the similar TA Program.
TA Program Manager Kelly McGourty explained, “Not all of the same categories are eligible – there have been some tweaks – but the premise behind it is essentially the same: it’s to fund those more community-improvement types of transportation investments. It’s still bicycle and pedestrian activities; it’s still the historic preservation of transportation facilities. There are some environmental mitigation categories that are eligible, and a few other types of the more unusual project categories.”
The pot of money that the TA Program gets from is shared nationwide, with each state allocated a certain amount. Within Washington State, some of the funds were used for statewide pedestrian improvements and safe house school program, but the rest divided between regions (Capitol Hill’s fitting in with the King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties).
“For us, since we’re the largest region in the state, we’re still only getting a little over $4 million every year. So when we do project selection, we tend to do multiple years at a time,” McGourty told The Capitol Hill Times.
Because of the budget, the TA Program committee has opted to go through the process and take applicants once every four years, allowing for closer to $17 million to be divided among projects.
Among the last cycles of projects completed by the TA Program are the Burke Gilman Train Underpass, the Bike Locker Program Enhancements around King County transit facilities, Bus Bike Rack Program Enhancements for the I-405 Corridor, plus a heap of sidewalk improvements. Capitol Hill needs to get in on this.
Car2Gos are as smooth of a ride as flying around a bumble bee, but perhaps the collision between one and a cyclist earlier this summer could have been avoided if our neighborhood’s bike lanes were improved (or existed).
Applications are due later this month, on August 26, and according to federal regulations, TA Program applicants must be a local agency sponsor: local jurisdictions, school districts, ports, and transit agencies. Individuals and community groups, however, can ask one of these agencies to sponsor a project on their behalf.
In July the East District Council was forced to pick one winner among many good projects that would be awarded funds from the Bridging the Gap and Neighborhood Parks and Street Fund, perhaps this is chance for the runner ups to partner with local agencies so that their projects, too, can come to pass.