02/01/11

Biking, Walking & Blogging: BWTC Funding UpdateBiking, Walking & Blogging: BWTC Funding Update

BWTC Funding Update

From Steve Clark

The response to last December's call for 'shovel ready' projects and suggestions for things to study (mostly gaps in the network) made two things very clear:

1)      there is no shortage of enthusiasm and good ideas  for improving conditions for bicyclists and pedestrians, and

2)      deliberation by expert project reviewers and staff and the TLC Board of Directors about how to best spend federal funds  will be challenging and strategic.

We received 12 "shovel ready" proposals, for a total request of $8 million. We also received more than 60 suggestions for planning studies. Unfortunately, the available funding covers only a fraction of the projects submitted.  In the case of the planning studies (intended to move new projects into a "shovel ready" status by the next funding process in November), the field will need to be whittled down to 15 or fewer.

And so you ask, what exactly is being considered in this most recent call for proposals?

First, under the planning studies, we received suggestions from many different entities. A wide range of candidate projects were submitted, from determining the best location for a downtown bike station with ample covered bike parking, to making a complex intersection like Penn/Osseo/44th in North Minneapolis more pedestrian friendly. Many of the suggestions focused on major roads, like Snelling Ave in St. Paul, or Broadway St. NE in Minneapolis. These critical corridors are extremely unpleasant for bicycling, yet are deemed essential to reach important destinations. Could such roads ever be made bike friendly? Well, yes --- but only with reprioritization of the space, and that's the purpose of the planning studies!  

Secondly, under "shovel-ready" projects, we received proposals that ranged from ordinary infrastructure projects (e.g., a side path along 49th Ave N) to the more ideational - from creating bike walk centers run by non-profits to setting up a RFID (ZAP!) program in downtown Minneapolis both to capture the number of bike trips and to give employers the data to provide awards/incentives to bike commuters. Nice Ride - the bike sharing program in Minneapolis -- submitted a proposal for major expansion not only in Minneapolis, but across the river to St. Paul as well.  

So, some tough decisions ahead on how to make the best investments with these federal transportation dollars! Each project provides an opportunity to build out the network. The recently appointed project advisory team will work with BWTC staff to rate each project against criteria, making recommendations to the TLC Board for decision on February 25. 

The best news? We can expect that "shovel-ready" projects funded will actually be completed/implemented this year!  The addition of these projects to what is already being built this year (through the funding provided in prior years) will mean that 2011 should be the biggest and best year for walkers and bicyclists this area has ever seen!

Category I - Planning

Category II - Capital

Stay tuned!