There was a big announcement last week. An MTD News story was published on our website on September 12 to share the word:
On September 8, 2014 MTD was informed by Senator Durbin’s office that the Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) will award MTD a $15.7 million TIGER grant on September 12, 2014 to rehabilitate streets on core transit corridors to bring them into a state of good repair while redesigning them to safely accommodate all roadway users including bicyclists, pedestrians, vehicles, and transit riders.
What are TIGER grants?
Funds for the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Program are awarded on a competitive basis for projects that will have a significant impact on their region. The DOT defines the TIGER Program as a “unique opportunity for the DOT to invest in road, rail, transit and port projects that promise to achieve critical national objectives.”
This year, the U.S. DOT received 797 applications totaling $9.5 billion in funds applied for. The amount applied for was 15 times the $600 million allocated for the TIGER Program.
MTD and our partners submitted an application for a TIGER Grant in late April 2014. This was the third time the group had pitched this project to the DOT. The streets within the proposed corridor, which we’ll get to later, are subject to three different jurisdictional agencies: City of Champaign, City of Urbana, and the University of Illinois. MTD makes the fourth entity involved with this project. All four entities are contributing financially to the project and the grant would not be possible without everyone’s support. The DOT’s $15.7 million will go toward the total funds needed for the project, which are estimated to be $34,883,465. The community partners are contributing the remaining 55% ($19,178,138) of the project’s cost.
What’s the project?
The Multimodal Corridor Enhancement Project (MCORE) will accomplish many, many goals. The ultimate project goal is:
A multi-modal network of roads, on-street bike lanes, shared lane markings, bus-only lanes, and other transit services that will further enhance mobility for residents and visitors, particularly non-drivers, persons with disabilities, senior citizens, and economically disadvantaged populations.
MTD, the cities, and the University agree that the areas outlined in the MCORE Project are in need of serious investment due to heavy mobility demands. Over 80 percent of the jobs in the Champaign-Urbana area are located within an approximate one mile buffer of the project’s corridors.
The streets that will receive improvements over a period of five years serve as critical linkages between the two cities and their downtowns. The corridors are:
- Armory Avenue – Fourth Street to Wright Street (University)
- Wright Street – Armory Avenue to White Street (Champaign + University)
- White Street – Wright Street to Second Street (Champaign)
- Green Street – Wright Street to Race Street (Urbana)
- Green Street – Fourth Street to Neil Street (Champaign)
Anyone who has traveled down these corridors, by any mode of transport, can attest to their desperate need for rehabilitation. The current pavement condition threatens the efficiency of these networks for all roadway users. Safety is also threatened. A number of intersections with the highest crash frequency are in the corridors included in the MCORE Project.
The MCORE Project will bring these streets into a state of good repair and greatly enhance safety for all modes of travel. In addition to the street improvements, the Project will also incorporate complete street design components. Several were mentioned above, but here is a complete list:
- Reduced-width vehicle lanes
- On-street bicycle lanes
- Shared lane markings
- Bus only lanes
- Bicycle/bus lanes
- Curb bump-outs
- ADA accessible curb ramps
- Enhanced bus stops
- Vehicle and pedestrian level street lighting
- Bus prioritization of traffic signals
- Streetscape elements
Why is everyone congratulating MTD?
MTD will serve as the grantee of record, which means we’re ultimately responsible for all the paperwork and every step from start to finish within each of the four phases. MTD is responsible for the successful completion of the MCORE Project and we’re the ones who will answer to DOT. The execution of the four phases will be handled by the entity who owns the right-of-ways under improvement.
MTD is contributing a total of $3,884,200, 20% of the total local match, to the MCORE Project with local capital funds. MTD’s contribution covers mobility improvements within these corridors. This may include multi-modal amenities like bus shelters, digital kiosks, bike racks, and other streetscape elements depending on the corridor. In addition to the $3.8 million, MTD is acting as the grant recipient and is ultimately responsible for the grant funds and the execution of the overall project. This will be administrated by frequent guest blogger, Jane Sullivan, MTD’s Grant Manager and Sustainability Planner.
Keep visiting The Inside Lane! We can guarantee we’ll keep the updates coming as the projects go out for bid and construction begins.
MTD cannot thank our community partners enough, as well as everyone who supported this application with their letters. Senator Durbin in particular made a huge effort to encourage DOT to take Illinois projects seriously. Let the MCORE Project begin!