Apr 29th 2015 | Posted in Trends by Government Contracting Pipeline

Photo by Jamie McCaffrey is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Photo by Jamie McCaffrey is licensed under CC BY 2.0

As local and state populations continue to expand throughout the country, America’s transportation infrastructure is deteriorating because of increasing traffic and decreasing funding. As a result, transit projects are growing and becoming increasingly important to help more Americans reach their jobs, education and day-to-day necessities such as health care, recreation and nutrition needs.

All of these programs and services depend on having safe and affordable transit opportunities available. The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) realizes the importance of improving transit throughout the country to ensure a reliable system for moving people from place to place. To that end, USDOT has created a pilot program – the Ladders of Opportunity Transportation Empowerment (LadderSTEP) – to assist seven cities in a pilot program  with building and restoring transit connections for projects from streetcars to light rail. However, ensuring connections from one location to another is not the only goal of the LadderSTEP program. It also is intended to develop workforce capacity and stimulate the revitalization of American neighborhoods.

“Transportation plays a critical role in connecting Americans and communities to economic opportunity,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This pilot program is not only about helping seven cities achieve their visions for projects, but also about demonstrating that transportation infrastructure is about the people that use it, and not just the equipment needed to build it.”

USDOT’s role in the pilot program is not only to provide technical assistance for the seven cities, but to also help those cities attract both public and private resources to the projects. Stakeholders in the projects will include mayors and other local officials, nonprofits, private investors and others. USDOT itself will partner with several national organizations such as The Urban Land Institute, Smart Growth America’s LOCUS program and Enterprise Community Partners.

The seven cities chosen as LadderSTEP participants and their projects include:

Atlanta – The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will provide enhanced technical assistance as the city seeks to improve road and sidewalk infrastructure to help increase access to transit, particularly in the transit-oriented development in the Vine City neighborhood where a bike-ped trail and city’s streetcar are looking to expand.

Baltimore – The DOT program will help the city restart a proposed reconnection from West Baltimore to downtown, seeking to help revitalize neighborhoods along the route.
Baton Rouge – The city is planning to develop a streetcar line on Nicholson Street Corridor and FTA will help steer the city through the planning and environmental analysis to select the best alignment for the line.
Charlotte – Phase two of the Gold Line Streetcar will continue to see DOT support that will connect the West Trade Area to the city’s Uptown. DOT will also work with federal and local housing agencies to make sure housing and transportation decisions are complementary.
Indianapolis – A Bus Rapid Transit route is being studied to connect Downtown employment areas to heavily populated areas north and south of the city. FTA will help the city as it seeks funding for this project.
Phoenix – Aging transit infrastructure in the south part of the city will be addressed as DOT will assist with implementation of federal grant funds that will help build light rail in the South Central Corridor and provide for street and bus stop improvements.
Richmond – The city’s first Bus Rapid Transit line is being built by the Greater Richmond Transit Company between Richmond and Henrico County and will receive support in its efforts. It will be a boon for transit-dependent residents in the Greater Fulton community of Richmond.

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