Spinning our Wheels

Spinning our Wheels is a commuting blog about the challenges of getting around Atlanta by car, bus, MARTA, bicycles and on foot written by transportation reporter David Wickert

Can Atlanta Streetcar snag competitive grants?

Last year, a half-dozen potential transportation projects in Georgia were left in the dust in a heated nationwide race for federal TIGER grants, including proposals to expand the Atlanta Streetcar and improve transit bus service in Cobb County.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced this week that $500 million will be made available in the 2016 round of TIGER discretionary grants. City of Atlanta officials are pondering whether to again seek $29.3 in funding to extend the Streetcar out to the Beltline's Eastside Trail near Krog Street Market.

READ MORE: Georgia passed over for TIGER grants

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"The City will carefully review our projects before choosing how to move forward," said city spokeswoman Jenna Garland in an email.

Another project that was passed over last year, the Cobb Parkway Smart Corridor, would have added transit signal prioritization to 35 signals on U.S. 41, transit queue jump lanes at six intersections, improvements to reduce vehicle delays at three intersections, arterial road detection and surveillance equipment and digital message signs.

A Cobb County spokeswoman said Thursday that the county would not reapply for project funds for the Smart Corridor. Instead, the county will submit an application for a project backed by the Cumberland Community Improvement District, to build an access ramp from Akers Mill Road onto the I-75 express toll lanes that are currently under construction.

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According to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, demand for this round of TIGER is "likely to be overwhelming and the competition steep." To illustrate the point, the amount sought by local governments last year was 29 times higher than the amount available.

Since 2009, TIGER has provided nearly $4.6 billion to 381 projects across the country.

Locally, the TIGER program has poured $47.6 million into the start-up of the Atlanta Streetcar and $18 million into the development of the southwest portion of the Atlanta Beltline’s buildout.

Other Georgia applicants left in the lurch last year included:

  • The city of Roswell, for a project to build sidewalks, two roundabouts, and a reversible lane system.
  • The city of Johns Creek, to build a flexible lane on Ga. 141/Medlock Bridge Road.
  • Fulton County, to upgrade the I-285 and Cascade Road interchange.
  • The city of Atlanta, to partner with the PATH Foundation to build a multi-use path on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard from Fulton Industrial Boulevard to Northside Drive with connection stubs for MARTA.

The application deadline is April 29.

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