The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recently announced 25 projects in 17 states - including SEPTA - will receive a share of approximately $8.5 million in funding through the Helping Obtain Prosperity for Everyone (HOPE) program to use transit systems as a springboard to create better lives for people in rural communities and areas experiencing long-term economic distress.
"This $8.5 million federal investment in the transportation systems of economically distressed communities will help give residents better access to jobs and vital services," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
HOPE grant recipients will receive funding to support planning and technical studies to improve transit, such as evaluating new routes, creating new connections and incorporating modern technologies. By improving transit reliability and increasing service to areas of persistent poverty, the projects will help residents access jobs and vital community services and address disparities in rural areas.
"We are pleased to partner with these grant recipients to find new ways to help rural residents reach the jobs and critical services they need, particularly during the COVID-19 public health emergency," said FTA Deputy Administrator K. Jane Williams.
FTA received eligible applications from applicants in 17 states totaling $11 million and evaluated project proposals based on criteria outlined in the HOPE Notice of Funding Opportunity.
All 25 HOPE projects are located in designated Opportunity Zones, which were created to revitalize low-income and economically distressed communities using private investment. Additionally, 19 of the projects are located in or benefit rural areas, consistent with the Department's Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success (ROUTES) initiative.
Among the projects selected to receive funding:
In California, the City of Fresno will receive $648,000 to plan for construction of a bus transfer station to serve three of the city's express bus routes, as well as area transit providers serving the county’s rural communities. The proposed Fancher Creek Transit Station will improve transit for underserved residents, increasing access to job opportunities and schools in the region.
In Mississippi, the South Central Community Action Agency (SCCAA) near Jackson will receive $624,496 to test the feasibility of an integrated electronic fare payment system for riders of eight partner agencies in rural Mississippi. The system will provide a universal payment card for unbanked riders to pay fares via cash, mobile device or web, including subsidies, to travel anywhere in the partner areas covering 9,000 square miles.
In Pennsylvania, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) will receive $495,000 to upgrade transportation infrastructure on a corridor that connects one of Philadelphia's low-income communities to Center City jobs, healthcare and other community services. The project will redesign SEPTA trolley stations to improve accessibility and add pedestrian safety features such as improved crosswalks and traffic controls.
In Maryland, Allegany County will receive $121,500 to study new transit options in rural western Maryland, including building a transit hub in Cumberland. The county will evaluate transportation services to improve reliability and increase ridership through innovative technologies.
The Grays Avenue Corridor runs approximately .85 miles in Southwest Philadelphia. It provides critical transportation connections from one of Philadelphia's poorest communities to the region's largest employment, education, and healthcare centers- University City & Center City Philadelphia. The Grays Avenue Corridor has existing light rail line, bike lanes, and trail connections- all of which need major upgrading to be safe, accessible, and attractive to community and economic development.
SEPTA, in partnership with the City of Philadelphia (City), will upgrade transportation infrastructure on the Grays Avenue Corridor, located along 49th St, Grays Ave, & Lindbergh Ave from the intersection of 49th St & Woodland Ave to 56th St and its intersections with Elmwood Ave & Lindbergh Blvd.
The project includes: Review and consolidation of existing plans and projects for the area; stakeholder meetings and public outreach activities for the development of a single preferred concept for the corridor. As well as land survey; geotechnical investigation; roadway reconfiguration; protection and reconfiguration of bicycle lanes; redesign of Route 36 trolley stations for ADA accessibility; streetscape improvements; addition of pedestrian amenities; improved intersections including new crosswalks and traffic controls; corridor gateways; striping plan; and stormwater management systems.