By Charles Pekow — Expect better bicycle connections to mass transit in the years to come, thanks in part to a federal grant.
The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) won a $20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) To help with UTA's connectivity plans. UTA will use the money for a variety of purposes, including building bike lanes and connections to bike paths, bicycle warning signs, bike parking, adding bike share stations, painting bike lanes and adding protection for them.
The total cost of the First/Last Mile Connections: Improving Community Access to Regional Opportunities project is budgeted at $75,722,739. UTA won the funds competitively from the eight-year-old Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program. TIGER grants must leverage non-federal investment. USDOT received 585 eligible applications for this year's round of funding but gave only 40 grants. UTA asked for $28 million and got four percent of the total TIGER money.
In a letter of support for the project application to USDOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, Laura Hanson, executive director of the Jordan River Commission, wrote that with the project “Wasatch Front
residents will be able to combine transit with segments of the 45-mile long paved bicycle path that parallels the river to fill gaps in the first and last miles of a commute and reduce the length of trips overall.”
A strategy study commissioned last year for the project by UTA noted that few transit agencies specifically create first mile/last mile efforts, preferring to integrate the matter into overall transit policies.
UTA Active Transportation Planner Jennifer McGrath wrote in an email that the project will include “everything from striping on existing shoulders and new bike repair stands to separated trail connections and bike/ped bridges over rails.” But she said it's too soon to say where any of the improvements will go.
The Colorado Department of Transportation also received a $15 million dollar TIGER grant to fit into its $237 million project to improve North Interstate 25 between the cities of Loveland and bicycle Mecca Fort Collins. The effort includes construction of bicycle/pedestrian underpasses beneath the highway.