11/02/10

BWTC Proposed Funding Plan 2011 - 2012BWTC Proposed Funding Plan 2011 - 2012

Proposed BWTC Funding Plan

The extended funding of the NTP program is confirmed by FHWA! The proposed outline is for your review. We believe these investments will increase bicycling and walking as transportation. Do you agree?

We'd appreciate your comments by Nov 17th

BWTC proposed funding plan 2011-2012

Comments

comments on BWTC Proposed Funding Plan 2011-2012

Congratulations on securing the next round of funding and for your proactive efforts to use the funding in the most advantageous way. Your draft "Proposed New BWTC Awards document downloaded 11/8/10 has a lot of great ideas.

Here are some suggestions from the Midtown Greenway Coalition to strengthen your funding game plan to maximize measureable outcomes.

1. Please make explicit that nonprofit organizations are eligible as applicants to pursue funding for "Building Regional Readiness through a Bank of Bike/Walk Project Designs." The Midtown Greenway Coalition has been successful in working with neighborhood organizations, elected officials, public agency staff, and the public to make sure small area plans along the Greenway include references to public spaces at future train stations in the Midtown Greenway. Making south Minneapolis increasingly walk-able will require that stations on the future Midtown Greenway express rail transit line offer a glimpse of what is around them instead of being hidden at the bottom of the Midtown Greenway 22-foot deep trench. These public spaces at future train stations are critical to integrating the Greenway with surrounding residential and business communities, especially on the busy commercial strip of Lake Street one block away. Given that the Midtown Greenway is serving as a spine for smart growth, identifying and securing a template of small public open spaces to maintain livability in an increasingly dense built environment is critical and time is short to achieve this. The next step is more detailed planning for these spaces so we may move toward implementation. Other relevant projects include expanding the phenomenal success of the Midtown Greenway with north-south feeder routes that offer levels of service similar to that of the Greenway.

2. Please clarify "Empowering Neighborhoods to Reduce Bike/Walk Barriers" funding plans to make clear that projects to increase the use of a particular facility, such as the Midtown Greenway, are eligible, and that applicant organizations can be not only neighborhood organizations, but also other community organizations.

3. Regarding "Improving Real and Perceived Bike/Ped Safety through Training and Enforcement of Traffic Law," one of the biggest barriers to expanding the use of the Midtown Greenway, already Minnesota's busiest bikeway, is a concern over crime and safety, primarily AFTER DARK. The Midtown Greenway Coalition has done the heavy lifting to begin turning this situation around by starting our Trail Watch program that we developed in close coordination with the police. But this shoe-string program that is funded and run by our nonprofit group and staffed largely by volunteers in jeopardy of being eliminated or scaled back for lack of resources. Please make clear in your funding guidelines that nonprofit organizations and police/community partnership are eligible funding recipients, and allow for the possibility that less than 100% of the initial funding goes to St. Paul. Also, police on bicycles after dark is one of the most effective ways to improve both actual perceived safety on the Midtown Greenway and perhaps elsewhere, so we encourage any guidelines to allow for police on bicycles AFTER DARK.

4. Regarding "Building on BWTC Success through Project Enhancements/Extensions," please do not limit your projects to previously-funded-BWTC projects. We have some creative ideas for infrastructure improvements that could enhance police and citizen patrolling to explode Midtown Greenway use after dark, making it an artful night-time destination of national acclaim.

The Midtown Greenway Coalition is excited and encouraged to pursue a partnership with TLC. We have a shared objective of greatly increasing Minnesota's biggest bicycle transportation success story, the Midtown Greenway, with results that can be directly measured using the detector loops already in place under the Greenway pavement and also measured via TLC's fantastic manual trail users counts on the Greenway.

Draft plan comments

Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program
Draft plan Comments

Overall this is a well thought out draft with good division of categories. It’s easy to see that a lot of work has gone into it. Specific comments:

Put the 2008 priorities into a box and highlight that this is from 2008.

Title the next paragraph so people see that it’s setting the context/background.

Please specify the day/month/year start and end dates for this new funding cycle so it is clear to everyone.

Building Regional Readiness category:
Elements – Potentially recommend selecting fewer than 25 for initial cut. Good idea to have 10 teed up and ready, even though only ~2 will be funded under next category (Enhancing the Bike Walk Network), since new funding may become available for shovel ready projects.

Enhancing the Bike Walk Network:
Elements: #1 looks more like process than element. #2 – Concern that word “neighborhoods” is used here as a location where one or more projects will be located, and that Minneapolis is the only city eligible in the next category (Empowering Neighborhoods). This “feels” exclusionary.
Process: It would be extremely helpful to have CTS, MN Design Team and the other groups mentioned here – adds more credibility than an “ad hoc” team because these organizations already are seen as being credible in the metro area and beyond.

Empowering Neighborhoods: As noted above, this only includes Minneapolis, and only mentions the possible consideration of other cities. Some of the smaller cities who are a part of the NTP could clearly benefit, and it would be a nice gesture to them to expand the name of this category beyond neighborhoods, and to have the description reach out to the smaller towns.
Though these towns may not have formally named neighborhoods, they do have farmer’s markets, community gardens and some of the other items mentioned in this category under “Elements”.

Improving real/Perceived Bike/Ped safety – St. Paul is identified as the demonstration project, so it would be helpful to state how that was determined/their willingness, and that part of the project would be that St. Paul would coordinate an expansion into X number of additional communities by the end of the 2012 funded time frame if that is seen as being feasible.

Creating lasting Bikeable/Walkable communities – Elements: This category is where a lot of lasting change could occur in terms of policy, systems and educational environment. I recommend clearly stating that this includes cross-disciplinary education of professionals including civil engineers, urban/regional planners, environmental planners, public health professionals, etc. It could list potential partners such as ITE, CTS, MN Design Team, MNAPA, MPHA and others involved in education, and could have two tracks – institutional education (updating undergrad/grad school philosophy in these programs and their courses), and continuing education for these professionals, since most need to obtain continuing educational credits on an ongoing basis for licensure.

Overall comments –
Clarify timelines for each category so they have both month/year start and end dates
Proposed budget – include a minimum amount that TLC intends to include in each category along with the maximum. Dollar amounts would be more clear than the current percentages listed.

This is an excellent document. Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments.

Karen

Review of the draft NTP Program funding categories

Thank you for the opportunity to review the draft NTP Program funding categories and strategies. I have reviewed the draft and my comments are presented below. Please contact me if you have any questions.

Category 1: building regional readiness through a bank of bike/walk projects.
Funding level – up to 12 % or ~ $480,000.
• Do not only rely on previous public input to capture projects using #1 (previous BWTC solicitations) and #2 (jurisdictional plans), as these are no longer current. For example, since the last round of project solicitations, Three Rivers Park District has moved forward with pending development of the Intercity Regional Trail running from Minnehaha Parkway to the Mall of America through Minneapolis and Richfield, and with the Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail extension from its current terminus at the Edina/Richfield border west through the Southdale area of Edina connecting to high density housing and the Pentagon Park employment center east of Highway 100. Both of these projects would not be recognized under the currently proposed approach. Instead, open this category to a call for projects, and require all participants to apply if interested.

• This category is important, in that it can fund several planning projects, helping prepare them for future grants if funding is available, or for funding through other sources.

Category 2: Enhancing the Bike Walk Network through High Priority Network Bike Walk Connections. Funding level – up to 45 %, or ~ $1,800,000.
• Do not tie this to category 1 projects, as there may be projects that are either already at 30% pre-engineering, or projects that will be at that level in 2012 but which didn’t either apply or were not accepted under category 1. Do not limit project applications based on convenience, but rather on merit.

• The focus in this category is unclear. At first read, it appears the intent is to fund projects that are a high priority for the network infrastructure – e.g. gaps, barriers, missing segments, segment extensions to employment centers, etc. However, the “elements” description focuses on two very different ideas – the “state of the art” facility concept, and the “neighborhood” project. Is this category really about network improvement, or is it more of a method to fund a cool example project, or to fix a localized problem? Infrastructure funding in this round should focus on arterial network infrastructure, as localized projects have been heavily favored in prior rounds of funding.

Category 3: Empowering neighborhoods to reduce bike/walk barriers. Funding level – up to 5%, or ~ $200,000.
• Minneapolis has an excellent local system of sidewalks and now, through the BWTC program, bike lanes. The neighborhoods that need to be empowered are actually in the first ring suburbs, where many streets do not have sidewalks or bike lanes. You may wish to consider focusing first on NTP communities that lack needed infrastructure for this category.

Category 4: Improving real and perceived bike/ped safety through training and enforcement of traffic laws. Funding level – up to 5%, or ~ $200,000.
• This is a very important component, as inconsistent behavior is the number one cause of bike/ped/car accidents. The “case” description is somewhat confusing, as it implies that law enforcement is best way to promote active living.

Category 5: Building on BWTC Success through project enhancements/extensions. Funding – up to 33%, of which up to 64 % is for capital; or ~ $1,320,000 with $850,000 for capital.
• This makes sense – if a project such as Nice Ride is proving to be successful, it is a good idea to expand the program.

Category 6: Creating lasting bikeable/walkable communities through institutional change. Funding TBD/remainder from other categories.
• Karen Nikolai’s comments on this section are right on.
• This category has the least amount of dedicated funding, but has the greatest long term potential contribution.

General comments:
The draft needs to better explain why of the $6.5 million available, $2.5 million, or 38 % of the total budget, appears to be dedicated to overhead.

Respectfully submitted by:

Jonathan Vlaming
Chief of Planning
Three Rivers Park District
763-694-7632