U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood Presents $47.6 million Check to Mayor Kasim Reed for Atlanta Streetcar :

Mayor Kasim Reed greeted U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site as he presented a check for $47.6 million in TIGER II funding for the Atlanta Streetcar project.

The Atlanta Streetcar is a modern, ADA compliant, electrically-powered transit system. The first phase of the project will run for 2.62 miles in the heart of Atlanta’s downtown, business, tourism and convention corridor connecting Peachtree Street with Sweet Auburn Avenue.

“The Atlanta Streetcar project moves the City of Atlanta forward and keeps us competitive with other similar cities by improving our regional transit connectivity, boosting our billion dollar tourism industry, helping local businesses along the Sweet Auburn Avenue corridor, and building a more sustainable future,” Mayor Reed said. “Most important of all, the Atlanta Streetcar project puts our citizens back to work soon by creating 930 jobs during the construction phase and more than 5,600 jobs over the next 20 years.”

Mayor Reed added: “By funding critical urban infrastructure projects such as the Atlanta Streetcar, President Barack Obama and the Department of Transportation have focused on building bridges between Americans who need jobs and jobs that need doing. Smart, innovative transportation projects solve today’s problems by addressing the critical need to put citizens back to work and also help ensure a better future for the City of Atlanta.”

DOT Secretary LaHood Announces more than 70 Innovative Transportation Projects Funded under TIGER II :

Requests Top $19 Billion for $600 Million Program

Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) II received nearly 1,000 construction grant applications for more than $19 billion from all 50 states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.

The tremendous demand for TIGER II project dollars follows a similar demand for TIGER I project dollars. On February 17, 2009, the Department announced 51 grant awards from nearly 1,500 applications for TIGER I grants nationwide. The TIGER I requests were for almost $60 billion worth of projects, 40 times the $1.5 billion available under that program. TIGER I dollars were made available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

“These are innovative, 21st century projects that will change the U.S. transportation landscape by strengthening the economy and creating jobs, reducing gridlock and providing safe, affordable and environmentally sustainable transportation choices,” said Secretary LaHood. “Many of these projects could not have been funded without this program.”

Roughly 29 percent of TIGER II money goes for road projects, 26 percent for transit, 20 percent for rail projects, 16 percent for ports, four percent for bicycle and pedestrian projects and five percent for planning projects.

An example of projects funded is $47.6 million to the City of Atlanta to construct a new streetcar line connecting many of the most important downtown residential, cultural, educational and historic centers, demonstrating the Department’s commitment to improving quality of life in major metropolitan areas.

TIGER II also provided $20 million to the New Hampshire Department of Transportation to replace the deteriorating Memorial Bridge that connects Portsmouth, NH, with Kittery, ME. The bridge is at the end of its service life and has a bridge sufficiency rating of six out of 100. Safety concerns recently required a maximum three-ton weight restriction on the bridge, causing all truck traffic to be detoured. The project demonstrates the Department’s commitment to bringing the nation’s aging road and highway infrastructure to a state of good repair.

In addition, TIGER II funds are being used to support a $546 million TIFIA (Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act) loan for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to build the Crenshaw/LAX Light Rail Line, a key piece of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s 30/10 initiative to construct 12 major transit projects in 10 years rather than 30, exemplifying the Department’s commitment to bold, regional transportation projects that create jobs in the short term while reinvesting in long term economic competitiveness and livability.

Under TIGER II, more than $140 million is reserved for projects in rural areas.

As a competitive program, TIGER II is able to fund the best projects from around the country. Using merit-based evaluation criteria allows the Department of Transportation to address some of the nation’s most critical challenges like sustainability and economic competitiveness.

This marks the first time that the U.S. Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have joined together in awarding grants for localized planning activities that ultimately lead to projects that integrate transportation, housing and urban development. Almost 700 applicants sought up to $35 million in TIGER II planning grants and up to $40 million in HUD Sustainable Community Challenge Grants. HUD’s funds can be used for localized planning efforts, such as development around a transit stop and zone or building code updates and improvements. The two Departments, along with assistance from the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, participated in the evaluation of the planning grant applications.

To ensure the important investments made by the Recovery Act continue, President Obama recently announced a comprehensive infrastructure investment plan that would be front-loaded with $50 billion to expand and renew America’s roads, railways and runways. To learn more about President Obama’s infrastructure investment plan, click here.

TIGER II grants were awarded to projects that have a significant impact on the nation, a region or metropolitan area. The projects chosen demonstrate their ability to contribute to the long-term economic competitiveness of the nation, improve the condition of existing transportation facilities and systems, increase energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improve the safety of U.S. transportation facilities and/or enhance the quality of living and working environments of communities through increased transportation choices and connections. The Department also gave priority to projects that are expected to create and preserve jobs quickly and stimulate rapid increases in economic activity.

DOT will fund Atlanta streetcar project :

WASHINGTON — In a major coup for the city of Atlanta, the U.S. Department of Transportation has agreed to grant the city $47 million for its proposed $70 million downtown streetcar project, according to U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Atlanta.

ewis’ office said he got confirmation of the award in a conversation with DOT Secretary Ray LaHood on Friday morning.  LaHood’s office would not publicly confirm the award.

“In my conversation with Secretary LaHood this morning he reiterated his belief that it was a good and necessary project and one that deserved federal funding,” Lewis said in a statement. “Not only does this project offer citizens and visitors to the downtown area another option for transportation, it will also provide green jobs and support economic development.”

The city’s deputy chief operating officer, Luz Borrero, and a spokesman for the city of Atlanta, Reese McCranie, stressed that the city had not gotten “official” word on the grant from the U.S. DOT.

More may be coming Georgia’s way.  A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Transportation, Olivia Alair, said the winner announcements would not come until next week. On Friday, LaHood is expected to address a mass transit conference in Macon.  The city of Macon and Georgians for Passenger Rail applied for about $1.9 million to help plan a commuter rail line between Atlanta and Macon, said Gordon Kenna, CEO of the passenger rail group.

Macon is in the district of U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall, a Democrat who is in a difficult re-election battle.

A $47 million award for the streetcar project is less than the $56 million Atlanta applied for in August. Making the project finance work will depend on the city council’s approval of an extra $5.6 million or so toward the project, Borrero said.  In addition, about $2 million will be shifted to streetcar-related projects.  Borrero said that the shifted money was originally budgeted for transportation-related projects within the same corridor, so no area would lose out on project money.

Borrero said the city pared down its request in recent days in talks with federal officials.  She said the city council, which approved funds for the original application, had not yet considered the request for additional money.

“We did not know what degree of success this proposed approach would have, but we knew that if we were successful as we have been that we would have an opportunity to demonstrate to the members of the the city council that leveraging a $45 million investment against a smaller increase in our local match would be definitely a worthwhile and absolutely outstanding opportunity,” Borrero said.

City officials have been pursuing the funding for the streetcar line, which will run east-west connecting the King Centerwith Centennial Olympic Park, for months. Lewis, along with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, met with and had conference calls with DOT Secretary LaHood as recently as a few days ago.

According to city plans, the project would cost more than $70 million, with the city and the Central Atlanta Progress’ Downtown Improvement District putting up local matching funds for it.

Reed’s office has estimated the project would create 5,200 jobs over 20 years and would not only help ease downtown traffic problems but also help the city compete for more tourism and convention business.

The grants are under a DOT program designed to upgrade transportation networks and create jobs quickly.

TIGER Grant Stimulus Funding Announcement :

Georgia Transit Connector regrets to announce that the Atlanta Streetcar was not awarded the TIGER Grant stimulus funding for surface transportation initiatives by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

While we are disappointed to not receive stimulus funding, we remain committed to our belief that Atlanta must improve its transit connectivity and mobility in order to remain competitive with other urban areas.This is a set-back but not an end to our efforts.

We will continue to pursue avenues for funding the streetcar initiative, as our initial intention was to prepare an application that positioned us for other available federal grants and opportunities.

There will be another round of TIGER Grant stimulus funding estimated at $600 million which we will pursue aggressively.

While this particular grant was not awarded, Georgia has received $5.9 billion in stimulus funding.

Those awarded TIGER grants were in better position to fund the capital costs of projects and a number represented multi-state transportation projects.

The Atlanta Streetcar Project is “Shovel Ready.” :

The studies conducted on the project since 2006 and in preparation for the grant submission in 2009 represent a substantial body of work that makes possible for the partnership of the City, the CIDs and MARTA to expedite the project construction. 

1.      Environmental Assessment

  • An Environmental Assessment was undertaken since the project is almost entirely within public rights-of-way and no significant impacts or effects are expected.
  • Early coordination with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) was undertaken to assure that an appropriate process was being followed and to expedite their review of the document in accordance with the schedule for a Finding of No Significance (FONSI) by June of 2010.

2.      Governance

  • A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is in the process of being developed to specify how the project will be managed and operated, as well as who will be responsible for reporting, documentation, reviews, and liability.
  • Efforts to formalize are well underway and on schedule to have the structure in place as required by the project schedule.

3.       Design

  • Preliminary engineering and design was conducted in July and August 2009 to support the TIGER grant application and Environmental Assessment and resulted in a set of plan drawings and cost estimates for alternative alignments, including segments associated with phased implementation of the streetcar.
  • Design criteria and specifications from other agencies were obtained.  These were reviewed to serve as standards for the streetcar project.
  • Georgia Power is working closely with the project team to identify and resolve possible utility conflicts early on and facilitate construction and the start operation.
  • A two-step RFQ/RFP process using a Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Maintain (DBFOM) approach will be used to reduce a year out of the the project construction.

4.      Procurement/Delivery of Rail Cars

  • MARTA has initiated discussions with Utah Transit Authority (UTA) regarding the use of UTA’s options for additional rail vehicles resulting in a savings of 1 year from the schedule.

5.      Procurement/Delivery of Trackway Components

  • Procurement of trackway components, typically a long process will be conducted via an option added to MARTA’s upcoming Trackwork Replacement contract to be let in summer 2010.

6.      Right-of-Way Acquisition

  • The City of Atlanta owns the majority of the right of Way.  The City and the CIDs are committed to facilitate acquisitions within their areas.  The alignment will require minimal real estate acquisition.  Streetcar stops will be placed within the public right-of-way.

    City of Atlanta submits application for U.S. DOT stimulus Grant :

  • City of Atlanta submits application for U.S. DOT stimulus grant
    Invites Atlantans to “Get on Board” with Streetcar Linking “the Last Mile”

    ATLANTA (Sept. 16, 2009) – The City of Atlanta and its partners in the Georgia Transit Connector initiative submitted yesterday an application for $298.3 million in federal stimulus to fund a 9.7-track-mile modern streetcar system in Atlanta.

    The U.S. Department of Transportation’s discretionary Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants are earmarked for local surface transportation projects that will help jumpstart the economy.

    “If Atlanta is to remain competitive with other urban areas for economic development, we must improve our connectivity and mobility,” said Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin. “A streetcar system will help make Atlanta a more walkable city and serve as a catalyst for development and revitalization in Midtown and Downtown.”

    The proposed streetcar route is a T-shape, with 6.6 track miles north-south from Peachtree Pointe/SCAD-Atlanta in Midtown to the Five Points MARTA station in Downtown and a 3.1-mile east-west route from Centennial Olympic Park to The King Center.

    As proposed now, TIGER funding would cover all capital costs associated with the streetcar, such as construction and vehicle procurement. Several models for operations and management after construction are being considered. Atlanta’s application will be competing against applications for transportation initiatives nationwide.

    The partners anticipate the streetcar will act as a catalyst for new urban development, support local and regional land use plans, and accommodate significant population and employment growth. The streetcar is projected to meet future travel demand, enhance existing neighborhood character in an environmentally sensitive manner, and improve transportation access and connectivity to disconnected destinations and activity centers in the urban core.

    The streetcar will connect with MARTA’s existing heavy rail and will be used for traveling shorter distances within Downtown and Midtown, alleviating intra-city congestion. The carbon-free streetcar has the capacity to transport more than 20,000 passengers daily and will reduce MARTA’s carbon footprint as it replaces bus service along the Peachtree corridor.

    The U.S. DOT is expected to notify recipients of funding by February 2010. If funding is awarded, the City would begin construction immediately with a projected completion date of February 2012.

    About Georgia Transit Connector

    Georgia Transit Connector is a collaborative effort involving the City of Atlanta, the Downtown and Midtown improvement districts, and MARTA to bring to fruition critical infrastructure that will connect the metro area and the greater region. The public-private partnership contributes resources and perspectives for planning and implementing the streetcar system and bringing the City closer to its long-term regional transportation vision.

The initiative to make this application required strategic input and cooperation from the City, MARTA and the metro area business community as well as state and federal officials. This collaborative spirit is key to our future success on this project and other projects aimed improve the quality of life in our city and state.