The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has given $25.7 million in competitively awarded grants through the Alternative Analysis program to help community officials in 15 states evaluate and select the best options to help place new or expanded transit systems in their communities.
“These grants will help communities explore how they can benefit from transit,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “It’s an exciting and important initial step in the planning process that helps ensure federal funding aligns with local and regional transportation priorities.”
The Alternatives Analysis grant program is the first key milestone in the FTA New Starts process – the primary source for federally funded transit projects. Conducting an “alternatives analysis” ensures that various costs and benefits, route options, and other important considerations are taken into account as part of FTA’s capital planning process, known as New Starts. The analysis is complete once a locally preferred alternative is selected and adopted as part of the affected region's long-range transportation plan.
“Careful planning is an essential first step toward making wise investments in local transportation solutions that will spur economic opportunities and jobs today while improving the quality of life for generations to come,” said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff. “We depend on our regional and local partners to determine how transportation fits best within their communities. These funds will move these communities forward.”
New Starts has provided between $1.5 billion and $1.8 billion annually for major transit construction projects in recent years; an additional $750 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds were advanced to New Starts projects in 2009.
The 24 winning proposals were submitted by transit agencies from across the country as part of a nationwide competition. Winning proposals demonstrated need by identifying a substantial transportation challenge in a particular corridor and proposing technical work that would provide cost and benefit information on the alternatives studied to address the problem. Priority was given to project sponsors coordinating transit project development with relevant public housing agencies, or with relevant energy or environmental public agencies.
The agency reviewed 67 applications from 30 states seeking a total of $73 million in funds.