McKinney Avenue Transit Authority, Fort Worth Receive Millions in Urban Circulator Grants

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A couple of weeks ago, we were discussing the future of the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority -- specifically, its plans to create a "connector loop line down St. Paul and up Federal to Olive," in the words of MATA's chief operating officer, John Landrum. MATA and Dallas Area Rapid Transit were hoping that the feds would help pay for some of that so-called urban connector -- and, sure enough, this morning U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that the MATA connector loop will indeed get $4.9 million of the $293 million handed out today as "part of the Obama Administration's livability initiative to better coordinate transportation, housing and commercial development investments to serve the people living in those communities."

But the big winner is Fort Worth, whose Fort Worth Streetcar Loop will get $25 million -- a far cry from the nada it received in Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery funds back in February. There's a conference call with LaHood shortly -- I'm on hold with some funky lite-jazz -- but according to the release, Dallas and Fort Worth are but two of six cities receiving so-called Urban Circulator Grants -- meaning, 59 other applicants didn't receive anything.

Update at 10:06 a.m.:
LaHood says Fort Worth's getting the $25 million in federal grants -- the max amount -- isn't a make-right following Dallas's big TIGER grant win earlier this year. Instead, he says, this is all due to Mayor Mike Moncrief and the Fort Worth city council's sticking to the plan rather than giving up in February. Which is why LaHood called Moncrief this morning to offer his hearty mazel tovs.

"This project will really make a difference," LaHood says of the Fort Worth project. "When you look at Fort Worth, it's mainly because of the mayor and the city and the work they did and their leadership, and I compliment them."

Adds FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff, "When the secretary announced the original TIGER grants, he funded Dallas and not Fort Worth. That had to do with readiness. And the mayor of Fort Worth stayed at it. They didn't take the last competition with Dallas getting the money and them not as a reason to stand down. They took it as a reason to stand up, and as a result they're ready."

Now let's go to the breakdown:
Project: Fort Worth Streetcar Loop (Urban Circulator)
Sponsor: The City of Fort Worth and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority
Amount: $24,990,000

The City of Fort Worth and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority will construct a 2.5-mile one-way streetcar loop with between 20 and 25 stops and three vehicles to connect a Trinity Railway Express commuter rail station and Intermodal Transportation Center with the central business district. This will be the hub of a planned streetcar network connecting six designated "urban villages" targeted for redevelopment to the city's major employment centers, such as downtown and the Near Southside Medical District. Ultimately, the streetcar system will connect residents in four economically disadvantaged areas to job opportunities in major employment centers, while stimulating the redevelopment of walkable urban neighborhoods with a variety of housing choices.

Project: Olive/St. Paul Street Loop (Urban Circulator)
Sponsor: Dallas Area Rapid Transit Authority (DART)
Amount: $4,900,000

The Dallas Area Rapid Transit Authority (DART) will build a 0.65-mile urban streetcar track extension to an existing system. This project would link the current McKinney Trolley to the existing DART light rail St. Paul Station and to the McKinney Trolley Olive Street Extension in the heart of Downtown Dallas. The connection to the Olive Street extension would form an entire reversing loop for the trolley, making operations safer and more efficient, while connecting downtown destinations such as the Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher Sculpture Center to Uptown Dallas.
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