Mass Transit Program
Nashville MPO Announces $1.65M in Mass Transit Project Awards
In response to mounting economic, energy, and quality-of-life challenges, the Nashville Area MPO announced $1.65 million in project awards under a new policy component for the region's Urban Surface Transportation Program (USTP) that offers some additional financial support for mass transit infrastructure and service.
Shaped by public and stakeholder input, the MPO established a new direction for investments made with MPO- managed grant funds received through the Federal Highway Administration's Surface Transportation Program. The reformed strategy aligns transportation investments with the region's stated goals for diversifying mobility options available to those living, working, and doing business in the Nashville area. Henceforth, at least 10 percent of USTP funds will go toward projects that support the Regional Transit Vision- currently $1.65 million in the 2011-2015 Transportation Improvement Program. Grant recipients provide a non-federal match of at least 20 percent of total project cost.
"This new investment strategy represents a significant regional commitment to modernizing and expanding our region's mass transit system for a broad range of customers," said Felix Castrodad, the MPO's Principal Transportation Planner for mass transit. "In directing these FHWA resources, we're supporting ideas that may not otherwise have been funded through traditional revenue streams for public transportation. Included in the award list are extremely cost-effective approaches to assisting transit riders and carpoolers with their ability to make more convenient, efficient, informed choices when it comes to trip-making. What may seem like a small matter can go a long way toward alleviating stress on our roadway network, as well as stress placed on physical and mental health resulting from the daily auto commute."
Priority consideration was given to projects addressing both the Guiding Principles (livability, sustainability, prosperity, diversity) and bold, new vision for mass transit as articulated in the MPO's 2035 Regional Transportation Plan - a 25- year roadmap, adopted Dec. 2010, for how the MPO will allocate $6 billion toward multi-modal transportation infrastructure. (Map depicting Regional Transit Vision, as adopted by the MPO mayors with the 2035 Plan, at bottom). In four-year intervals between now and 2035, over $77 million in federal funds will be available for mass transit projects by way of the MPO work program (Transportation Improvement Program, or TIP) based on current funding levels.
2011-2014 Mass Transit Awards:
U.S. federal investment in transit represents 18 cents of every transportation dollar- with much of these funds requested and administered by Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and transit agencies in urban areas, where an ever-increasing number of jobs are located. These investments help systems like the Nashville MTA and Murfreesboro Rover meet citizens' increasing demand for transit services - 76 percent of funding is spent on creating and supporting private sector jobs, with transit's share of the commute trip highly correlated with population and employment densities. Increasing demand for walkable communities, and mobility choices to get around roadway congestion, offer policy-makers an opportunity to help increase transit's share of the commute trip, spawning infill redevelopment of existing town-centers, as well as corridors that are nearing capacity on their supporting roadway infrastructure.
Consistent federal and regional funding sources are essential to planning and financing major public transportation capital projects that could have tremendous economic impact on local economies. "In the present absence of a new sixyear federal Surface Transportation bill, or a regionally-dedicated transit funding source for Middle Tennessee, this tenpercent flex of FHWA dollars represents a near-term, creative use of existing resources in order to support the region's stated goals for livability, sustainability, prosperity, and diversity," said Michael Skipper, the MPO's executive director.
This awarding of USTP funds to transit comes on the heels of a recent announcement of $2.5 million in MPO-granted awards for a complementary program targeting projects that improve conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists throughout Middle Tennessee.
For more information on MPO efforts to support a regional transportation system that's safer for, and more inclusive of, the sustainable modes (transit, walking, biking) - accommodating population and employment growth over the next 25 years in a way that preserves open spaces and improves quality-of-life- visit NashvilleMPO.org/2035.
Mass Transit Program Director
Principal Transportation Planner