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Front Page » Transportation » Federal transit funds are ripe for the taking

Federal transit funds are ripe for the taking

Written by on March 29, 2016
Federal transit funds are ripe for the taking

There are federal transit funds ripe for the taking right now, Aileen Bouclé, executive director of the Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization, has told two professional organizations in the past two weeks. But, she warned, the only way to get them is to have the groundwork laid.

“The federal government takes back funds from the states that didn’t use them” within a given time frame, she told a meeting of the Latin Builders Association March 16. “Then the government says, “Hey, states, what do you have that can move forward right now?’ If we had the environmental documents ready, we could aggressively pursue those funds.”

Environmental studies, a strict government requirement, can take months or years to complete, but the county could move forward concurrently with several studies in hopes that at least one project is ready when funds suddenly become available, she said.

“When states receive funds but are not able to move their projects forward, those funds come back for any state to pursue, and that is happening right now,” Ms. Bouclé told the Chamber South business organization March 23. “We can pursue them, but must have the ecological documents in shape.” It also helps to have the local and state funding matches in place, she told the group.

The returned money is far from the only federal funding available, she said. For fiscal 2017, $1.4 billion has been set aside for 10 New Starts projects for mass transit. Competition is stiff from cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Boston, Charleston and Denver. “These New Starts dollar go above and beyond the population funding” that states normally receive, she explained.

Another $950 million has been pledged for seven New Starts projects in Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Ana and other cities on which construction has not yet started. That is money that could conceivably come back into play if construction doesn’t begin on time.

“You will notice some repetition on the lists,” Ms. Bouclé told the Chamber South group. “Some cities are very good at getting federal funds. Great for them! But if they can do it, we can do it too.”

2 Responses to Federal transit funds are ripe for the taking

  1. DC Copeland

    March 30, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    If “federal transit funds are ripe for the taking” but are only held up because of environmental studies, let’s take the money and run NOW for BayLink because I’m pretty sure it’s had at least a couple of studies done in that regard. I suspect however, like with most mass transit projects in this dysfunctional little burg, our main obstacle to getting federal and state funding is politics, with one elected official after another progress-blocking each other to champion their own personal bailiwick. As Pogo once said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

  2. Elliot Adams

    March 31, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    It would be a great idea to get those funds and use it to elevate that new rail line that’s going to connect Downtown Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Especially in Dade. Dade County could definitely use the elevated line since it has so many major thoroughfares that cross the old FEC railroad tracks. It’s virtually a no-brainer. When that new rail starts operation and it’s using the old FEC tracks, if you think we have roadway congestion now wait until those rail crossing gates start going up and down several times a day and especially during rush hour. Getting those transit funds is something to SERIOUSLY consider to get that rail line above grade.