TIGER 2012 Awards Announced

June 26, 2012

Last week U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that 47 transportation projects in 34 states and the District of Columbia will receive a total of almost $500 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) 2012 program.

The TIGER program is a highly competitive program that is able to fund innovative projects difficult or impossible to fund through other federal programs.  In many cases, these grants will serve as the final piece of funding for infrastructure investments totaling $1.7 billion in overall project costs.  These federal funds are being leveraged with money from private sector partners, states, local governments, metropolitan planning organizations and transit agencies.

The grants will fund a wide range of innovative transportation projects in urban and rural areas across the country:

• Of the $500 million in TIGER 2012 funds available for grants, more than $120 million will go to critical projects in rural areas.

• Roughly 35 percent of the funding will go to road and bridge projects, including more than $30 million for the replacement of rural roads and bridges that need improvements to address safety and state of good repair deficiencies.

• 16 percent of the funding will support transit projects like the Wave Streetcar Project in Fort Lauderdale.

• 13 percent of the funding will support high-speed and intercity passenger rail projects like the Raleigh Union Station Project in North Carolina.

• 12 percent will go to freight rail projects, including elements of the CREATE (Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency) program to reduce freight rail congestion in Chicago.

• 12 percent will go to multimodal, bicycle and pedestrian projects like the Main Street to Main Street Multimodal Corridor project connecting Memphis and West Memphis.

• 12 percent will help build port projects like the Outer Harbor Intermodal Terminal at the Port of Oakland.

• Three grants were also directed to tribal governments to create jobs and address critical transportation needs in Indian country.

TIGER projects will also improve accessibility for people with disabilities to health care, education and employment opportunities.

Over the next six months, 27 projects are expected to break ground from the previous three rounds of TIGER.  In addition, work is under way on 64 capital projects across the country.

While none of the Atlanta region’s applicants were selected this round, the City of Atlanta was awarded a $47.6 million dollar grant in 2010 to help implement a Downtown streetcar, which may serve as the potential foundation of a larger Atlanta streetcar system, should voters approve the upcoming Transportation Referendum.

25,000 Participate in Transportation Referendum Wireside Chats

June 21, 2012

About 25,000 Atlanta region residents participated in a series of 12 Regional Transportation Referendum “Wireside Chats” hosted by the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) over the last two weeks. The telephone townhalls gave participants a chance to learn more about projects that are part of the upcoming transportation referendum by asking questions directly of their local officials. The referendum will be held as part of the July 31 primary election.

Questions covered a broad range of topics, from how long the sales tax would last, to specifics about the 157 projects that would be funded by the referendum. While anyone could join any of the 12 chats, the calls were organized by jurisdiction. Questions ranged from region-wide topics like interchange improvements and public transportation, to details of the law itself and planned projects in their local communities.

Officials answered an average of 23 questions in each hour-long call, and participants stayed on the line an average of 14 minutes. Polls taken during the calls revealed that more than 91 percent of participants found the Wireside Chats helpful in understanding the transportation referendum vote and what is at stake.

If a participant’s question was not answered on the call, they could leave contact information in a voicemail and their question will be answered via a phone call or an email in the coming days. Complete information about the July 31 regional transportation referendum, including fact sheets about the 157 projects on the list and an interactive mapping tool, is available at www.metroatlantatransportationvote.com.

“We are pleased that nearly 25,000 regional residents participated in these Wireside Chats,” said Doug Hooker, ARC Executive Director. “Participant’s questions were thoughtful and diverse.  I believe our local officials did a very thorough job of providing more information about this important regional vote on July 31.”

DOT Report Documents Need for Continued Transportation Investment

June 15, 2012

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently announced that a new report on the state of America’s transportation infrastructure, 2010 Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges and Transit: Conditions and Performance, points to a sizeable gap between current spending and projected levels of investment needed to maintain the nation’s highway and transit systems.

“This report shows how important it is to get started now rebuilding America’s roads, bridges and transit systems.” stated Secretary LaHood.

The Department of Transportation’s Conditions and Performance report projects that $101 billion, plus increases for inflation, would be needed annually over the next 20 years from all levels of government – local, state and federal – to keep the highway system in its current state. It also identifies significant opportunities for investments to improve the current state of highways and bridges that could total up to $170 billion a year. The report shows that in 2008, all levels of government spent a combined total of $91.1 billion on highway capital improvements, a 48.4 percent increase over 2000.

The report also projects that between $20.8 billion and $24.5 billion will be needed annually over the next 20 years to attain a state of good repair for the nation’s transit systems and to accommodate expected transit ridership growth. In contrast, all levels of government combined spent only $16.1 billion on transit capital improvements in 2008. The Obama Administration budget request includes $108 billion over the six years for transit options, a 105 percent increase over the previous authorization levels.

The report further documents the need for a long term source of funding for maintenance and improvement of transportation infrastructure. The last surface transportation bill, SAFETEA-LU, expired in 2009 but has been temporarily extended by congress nine times since then. The current extension provides funding until June 30th, 2012. In the meantime, congress continues to confer on competing House and Senate transportation bills in an effort to produce a new long term transportation reauthorization bill.

Support Building for Georgia Open Roads Policy

June 15, 2012

In March, the Atlanta Regional Commission passed a resolution supporting the Georgia Open Roads Policy, which will boost efforts to reduce the metro area’s traffic congestion while increasing driver safety. The policy, developed in cooperation with the Traffic Incident Management Enhancement (TIME) task force, states that whenever a roadway or travel lane is closed or partially blocked by a traffic incident, the Georgia State Patrol, Georgia Department of Transportation, local law enforcement and other public safety agencies will re-open the roadway as soon as possible and in an urgent manner. Safety of the public and responders is the highest priority and will be preserved.

ARC recognizes the policy’s importance in significantly reducing non-recurring delays and secondary crashes. The policy is noted to be consistent with the objectives and strategies of PLAN 2040 and its goals will be taken into consideration with future transportation projects.

The TIME Task Force, which is now in its 10th year of operation, exists to develop and sustain a region-wide incident management program that facilitates safe and fast roadway clearance, lessening the impact on emergency responders and commuters. Task Force leadership includes representatives from the Georgia Department of Transportation, Georgia State Patrol, Federal Highway Administration, Atlanta Regional Commission, Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and Towing and Recovery Association of Georgia, among other stakeholders.

The Georgia Open Roads Policy has been adopted by the following entities:

Gwinnett County Police Department

City of College Park Police Department

The Towing and Recovery Association of Georgia

City of John’s Creek

Metro Atlanta Fire Chief’s Association

Northwest Georgia Fire Chiefs Association

Dunwoody Police Department

City of Roswell Police Department

Georgia Office of Highway Safety

Reminder: Wireside Chats Begin Tonight

June 4, 2012

Transportation referendum Wireside Chats kick off tonight, focusing on the City of Atlanta and Henry County. As noted in an earlier post, 12 Wireside Chats have been scheduled over six evenings in June. Local officials will provide a brief overview of and answer questions about the July 31st referendum and the project list it would fund. These evening phone conversations are organized by local jurisdictions and are open to all who wish to participate.

Those wishing to participate are encouraged to register early so that maps and meeting information can be sent in advance. The early registration period ends 48 hours before each event but you can still participate by calling 877-229-8493 and entering the code 19878 at the time the meeting is set to begin. For more information, visit the Wiresite Chat webpage.

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Regional Transportation Referendum Open House Scheduled in Atlanta

June 4, 2012

As outlined in the Transportation Investment Act, successful passage of the upcoming transportation referendum would set aside 15% of the sales tax proceeds to the individual counties and municipalities in the 10-county Atlanta region. With this funding, local governments may fund and build projects that address local transportation problems. Should the July 31 transportation referendum pass, the City of Atlanta is expected to receive more than $9 million every year for the next ten years, for a total of about $94 million for local projects. Over the last several months, the Mayor’s Office, Department of Planning & Community Development and Department of Public Works, in coordination with Atlanta residents and the Atlanta City Council, have developed a draft list of projects to be built with this 15% allocation.

On June 5, the City of Atlanta will host an open house to present the draft list and gather public input. A brief overview of the referendum process and the 85% regional list will be included as part of the session. The public is encouraged to attend this meeting and learn more about potential local priority projects.

Atlanta City Hall

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Atlanta City Council Chambers

55 Trinity Avenue, SW

Atlanta, GA 30303

If unable to attend, please submit comments on the draft list by e-mail to tiacomments@atlantaga.gov or call 404-330-6145 by June 19, 2012.

Draft Regional Community Engagement Plan Now Available

June 4, 2012

The draft Regional Community Engagement Plan update is now available for public review and comment through July 1, 2012. This document establishes guidelines for ARC’s interaction with the public on regional and local issues. Connect to the plan and take a very brief survey to let us know how ARC reach the public more effectively.