Stimulus Money Awarded for Route 1 Buses

Proposed "Super Stop" LocationsPlanners and transit geeks have been waiting for months for USDOT’s announcement of TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Competitive Grant recipients – a $1.5 billion slice of the stimulus package designed to invest in innovative, multi-modal and multi-jurisdictional transportation projects related to the nation’s road, bridge, rail, port, transit and intermodal facilities and infrastructure.

USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood announced the winners yesterday in Kansas City, MO and it turns out College Park and the immediate area is getting on board the stimulus train (or bus in this instance). The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments received nearly $59 million in funds towards a planned $83 million improve to the efficiency and reliability of the region’s buses.

Construction is planned to begin ASAP and take about two years. Part of the federal money will go towards consolidating bus stops at a new Takoma/Langley Transit Center at University Boulevard and New Hampshire Avenue ($12.3 million – photos HERE). That project will not only improve buses, but will pave the way for the Purple Line. According to BeyondDC, almost $1 million will go towards improvements to Route 1 between Rhode Island Avenue Metro Station and Laurel. It is unclear whether bus improvements will be like the “super-stops” (pictured above) envisioned in the 2008 City-contracted transportation study of Route 1 in College Park (RTCP discussion/analysis HERE). Another $1 million will support similar investments on University Boulevard in conjunction with the transit center:

  • Takoma/Langley Transit Center
    This bustling intersection is one of the busiest transit locations in the DC area, however bus stops are currently scattered far from each other at different locations around the intersection. The new transit center will consolidate all the bus stops at the intersection into one facility. This will eliminate the need for transferring passengers to cross wide and busy roads where there is an unfortunate history of vehicles colliding with pedestrians. This will also provide a permanent and visible transit amenity. Through new bus bays, pedestrian walkways, a full canopy, restrooms, lighting, and bus information, the transit center will ultimately provide a safe, attractive, comfortable and efficient facility for passengers and for bus transfer activities, and will also improve pedestrian safety, accessibility, and connections to bus services in an area that is largely low income and transit dependent.
  • U.S. Route 1 Bus Priority Improvements: Capital improvements proposed include queue jump lanes and transit signal priority at several intersections.
  • University Boulevard Bus Priority Improvements: Improvements include four queue jump lanes, transit signal priority at around 20 intersections, and a number of bus stop enhancements, such as the deployment of NextBus technology. This project will support planned light rail transit, such as the Purple Line, and will utilize the Takoma Langley Transit Center also included in this proposal.

Noticeably absent from the list of winning projects is a proposed $10 million 1600-bike, regional bike-sharing system of which UMD and the City of College Park were a party to. Still the Washington Area received the sixth largest grant of any other region in the program. That project may be included in an anticipated supplementary $600 million grant round.

Competition was fierce for the TIGER program, with nationwide requests outstripping money by about 40 fold.The $1.5 billion competitive grant program made up a small fraction of the roughly $46 billion in transportation dollars appropriated in the stimulus bill (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) and one of the only pots of money (next to highspeed rail) to be spent at the disgression of USDOT transportation experts. That’s a shame since TIGER Grants reward projects that meet a core group of benchmarks and strict competitiveness standards– including job creation and sustainability — rather than politicized projects that are often less critical or less cost-competitive than those put forward by planners.

Click HERE for the original regional grant application.

Here is USDOT’s description of the improvements to the area that are funded(page 14):

Project Description:
The project will provide more efficient bus service along 13 transit corridors in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., by investing in a bus transitway, bus-only lanes, transit signal priority, traffic signal management, real-time arrival technology and other enhancements. TIGER funds will be used to construct a new transit center at the intersection of University Boulevard and New Hampshire Avenue on the border of Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties in Maryland which will consolidate scattered bus stops at a heavily used bus transfer point into one facility. TIGER funds will also provide station improvements (bus bays, real time bus information and other improvements) supporting bus priority on the I-95/395 corridor.

Highlights:

  • Significantly improves the performance of the region’s transportation network, providing more choices to more travelers, including low-income and transit-dependent residents
  • Reflects extensive, multi-jurisdictional planning efforts
  • Many of the areas to be served by these projects are economically distressed areas

Project Benefits:

The priority bus transit corridors will significantly improve the performance of existing infrastructure and will provide more efficient and timely access to economically distressed populations, connecting them to job centers throughout the region.The project increases transportation choices and makes riding transit more appealing. Consolidating bus stops at the new Takoma/Langley Transit Center will eliminate the need for dangerous and time-consuming transfers. TIGER funds will provide new bus bays, pedestrian walkways, a full canopy, restrooms, lighting and bus information. The transit center will be a safe, attractive, comfortable and efficient facility for passengers and bus transfer activities in a largely low-income, transit-dependent area.

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