New Federal Transit Grants Complete the Streets for Everyone

Last week, Secretary LaHood announced the recipients of over $290 million in new public transportation funding.

While much attention was lavished on the new streetcars going to Charlotte, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Dallas, and Fort Worth, many of the winning projects will take a comprehensive approach that will center on modifying the street to make travel more convenient for transit vehicles — and for people walking, biking, and waiting for the bus or streetcar.

For example, Charlotte’s new streetcar will be run a street recently reconstructed to better provide for all users.

Several cities are pursing Bus Rapid Transit projects, employing distinct bus lanes and priority signals that will allow quicker, more predictable travel and reduced wait time for passengers.

Often, these efforts are coupled with new shelters and waiting areas for customers and streetscaping to improve the pedestrian environment. In at least one project, in Chicago, bicycle lanes will also be added.

New York City recieved funding to construct a dedicated Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) facility and pedestrian plaza along 34th Street. Photo: NYC DOT
New York City received funding to construct a dedicated Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) facility and pedestrian plaza along 34th Street. Photo: NYC DOT

A host of other projects will improve bicycle and pedestrian access to transit and along the roadways, including:

  • In Broward County, Florida, buses along Broward Boulevard will have priority at traffic signals; upgraded shelters with real-time information on arriving buses will greet passengers; and bicyclists and pedestrians traveling along the boulevard will have better accommodations.
  • Kansas City, Missouri will upgrade bus stops with new shelters and benches, add sidewalk between the stops, and install ADA-accessible ramps at intersections.
  • Stamford, Connecticut’s new Urban Transitway will provide a direct connection to the Stamford Transportation Center and feature dedicated bus lanes, carpool lanes, and bicycle lanes and sidewalks.
  • People in Canton, Ohio, will get upgraded bus shelters with benches and sidewalk improvements, and a bicycle-pedestrian path will be extended to provide more non-motorized access to the regional transportation system.

“This investment by the Obama Administration in our nation’s communities will create jobs, boost economic development and recovery, and further reduce our dependence on oil,” Secretary LaHood said. “Our goals are to provide cleaner, safer, and more efficient ways to get around.”

Like the TIGER program, there was overwhelming demand from across the country: 346 applications totaling over $3 billion in funding requests were received.

Communities are clamoring to provide more transportation options and a better quality of life to their residents through complete streets, whether it be from new bus and streetcar routes or simply building more accessible transit shelters.

Complete Streets