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Transit plans could win stimulus funding, fulfill dreams

June 26, 2009

Good news surfaced this week for fans of improved mass transit, including many people who have shared their dreams for a brighter future on this Imagine blog. Whether you care about economic development, access to great entertainment or a way to create a greener community, recent news about prospects for funding the In-Town Transit Partnership Project brought some encouragement.

According to an announcement June 25, the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham will seek federal funding for a transit system that would center on Birmingham’s 18th Street corridor and connect to nearby neighborhoods. Check out the video on the RPC website (labeled In-Town Transit Partnership Project Video) for more about how this Bus Rapid Transit Line would operate — it sounds just like what we imagine!

Money for the project’s initial study and construction — an estimated $65 million — would come from the federal stimulus package, under a competitive grant application process for funding specifically designated for Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER. RPC is working now to prepare and submit the application by the September deadline, with a decision expected by January 2010 on whether the funding will be available for this project.

That’s not the end of the story, of course, since estimates are that the system would cost $6.5 million a year to operate. No match is required to receive the funding, according to RPC’s Charles Ball, but local funds will be needed moving forward as well as an effective way to run the system moving forward.

So, keep watching for updates and encourage area leaders as they work together to make this happen. We’ll be doing the same, as part of our commitment to what people say they want in our community — more effective mass transit, and all the other great things that come with that.

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