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October 18, 2016
Despite Congress being on recess and many people out of town on the campaign trail, US DOT has been busy releasing various FAST Act-related grants and guidance in the waning days of the Administration. They include:
FTA TOD Grants - On October 11, FTA announced $14.7M in grants to 16 organizations to support comprehensive planning projects that improve access to public transit. The funds are made available through FTA's Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Planning Pilot Program for communities that are developing new or expanded transit systems to help them integrate their land-use and transportation planning efforts. Here is a link to the list of selected projects. FTA's TOD Pilot Program was established under MAP-21 and amended by the FAST Act. The program helps localities plan improved access to transit, jobs, education and services, and helps revitalize communities by attracting new business opportunities, jobs, and housing.
FHWA and FTA Technology Grants - Last week, US DOT announced grants awarded through two initiatives aimed at promoting the use of advanced technologies in transportation: FHWA's Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment (ATCMTD) and FTA's Mobility on Demand (MOD) Sandboxprogram. The grants will bring public and private investment together to deploy smart city technologies in both large and small communities across the nation. These grants build on US DOT's successful Smart City Challenge, which inspired cities, federal agencies, universities, and the private sector to work together to harness new technologies.
The $56.6M ATCMTD program's grants are designed to help communities use technology to enhance mobility and expand access to opportunity. Projects funded by these FAST Act authorized grants will improve the efficiency of the highway system and make the most use of existing capacity for commuters, businesses, and freight shippers. A full list of ATCMTD grants can be found here.
The $8M MOD Sandbox program is part of a larger research effort at US DOT that supports transit agencies and communities as they integrate new mobility tools like smart phone apps, bike- and car-sharing, and demand-responsive bus and van services. MOD projects help make transportation systems more efficient and accessible, particularly for people who lack access to a car. Through creative business models, the MOD Sandbox Program explores the potential of integrating public and private transportation choices. A full list of MOD grants can be found here.
State Freight Plans and State Freight Advisory Committees - In the October 14 Federal Register, US DOT published guidance on State Freight Plans and State Freight Advisory Committees. The guidance is available here.
State Freight Plans: The guidance outlines the minimum required elements that State Freight Plans must meet, as set forth in the FAST Act. It also suggests recommended (but optional) elements that States may include in their State Freight Plans. Beginning December 4, 2017, each state that plans to obligate state formula funds must have developed a State Freight Plan, though the multimodal components of the Plan may be incomplete. In addition to the requirements for State Freight Plans under MAP-21, each FAST Act-compliant Plan must include a fiscally constrained freight investment plan and a list of critical urban and rural freight facilities and corridors, as designated by the State. State Freight Plans must be updated at least every five years.
State Freight Advisory Committees: US DOT's guidance includes suggestions for how to establish and utilize a State Freight Advisory Committee to benefit state freight planning. The guidance recommends that State Freight Advisory Committees include a cross-section of public and private sector freight stakeholders, including but not limited to, representatives from ports, freight railroads, shippers, freight forwarders, carriers, state DOTs, third-party logistics providers, MPOS, and independent transportation authorities.
Election 2016 - Over 30 business, engineering, labor, transportation and travel groups signed a letter to each presidential candidate urging them to include long-term, sustainable transportation funding measures as part of their infrastructure plans. Here is a linkto the Clinton letter and a linkto the Trump letter.