The last month has been very busy for us at A2H. Early last month TDOT announced (http://www.tdot.state.tn.us/publictrans/fund.htm)that they would be accepting grant applications for a brand new funding source: the Multimodal Access Fund.
You can go to the website and read through the details, but here is the short version:
- TDOT has a $30 million bucket of State funding over the next three years for this program.
- The purpose is to provide bicycle, pedestrian, and links to transit facilities along or near State Routes. Think sidewalks and crosswalks, among other activities.
- Local governments apply through their MPO or RPO. Each MPO and RPO gets to submit two applications.
- Once grants are awarded, the local governments will follow the same TDOT Local Programs process, through the TDOT Local Programs Office to Locally Manage their projects. (Note: Local Governments may request that TDOT Manage their projects)
Please read through the TDOT guidelines to get the specific details.
What I see is a possible seachange for the way TDOT looks at transportation. Yes, yes, for years there have been the Transportation Enhancement (TE) Grants, now Transportation Alternatives (TA) grant programs. But this was part of the Federal Highway Bills as written by Congress, and merely carried out by TDOT.
This looks like it is something that TDOT has taken the initiative on. If so this would be a big change in thinking from the standard 4 lane divided highway with a continuous center turn (“chicken/suicide”) lane in the center that has been the standard TDOT “answer” to whatever transportation issues you have. Examples include Nolensville Road here in Nashville, or most of the main streets across the State. They do a great job of pushing vehicular traffic, but good luck trying to cross them on foot or ride your bike on them without getting killed.
Most State Routes don’t have any sidewalks along them, or if they do TDOT does not maintain them because they gave that maintenance responsibility to the Local Government. Most of the time TDOT only maintains “curb to curb” and nothing else. This is a huge issue for people in wheelchairs or mobility scooters. It is also a huge issue for Local Governments still feeling falling revenues. Building and maintaining sidewalks is not cheap.
The mere fact that TDOT is not only looking at ways people can use the roads without driving cars is a big deal. Dropping $30 million on the table over the next 3 years to actually do it gets my notice.
This years application deadline has passed, but there will be funding next year. I am interested to see how this “new” idea is received at TDOT and how these project develop.