UTA wins $20 million federal windfall

Tuesday , August 02, 2016 - 6:00 AM

OGDEN — Construction on several transportation projects in Weber and Davis counties could begin a lot sooner than originally planned, thanks to a $20 million federal windfall for the Utah Transit Authority.

Last week, UTA won a $20 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The money in UTA’s TIGER grant — which will be used to build and improve transit network connections like crosswalks, trails, sidewalks and bike lanes — was more than any other grant applicant, aside from the city of Chicago.

• RELATED: Downtown bike-share program, WSU transit hub tagged for funding

Jennifer McGrath, UTA Active Transportation planner, said the transit agency was among 585 nationwide applicants requesting more than $9 billion in TIGER funding.

The total amount of TIGER funding available nationally was $500 million, and UTA originally requested $28 million, with a separate $61 million in matching funds committed by local funding partners. McGrath said the grant was a boon for Utah and marks just the third time in the past decade such funds have come into the state.

“You never really get what you ask for,” McGrath said. “But we were thrilled with $20 million. We started with zero dollars and now we have $20 million to work with.”

McGrath said UTA’s application package included 343 projects, pared down from 900, with priority given to projects that improve transit safety and connectivity and those that provide what McGrath called “ladders of opportunity,” connecting minority populations to jobs, education and human services.

A final list of projects, along with a budget of matching local dollars, will not be decided on until late fall, McGrath said.

“Given that we haven’t yet talked to all of our partners, we don’t know exactly what projects will end up on the list,” she said. “But we’re going to meet with our partners and figure out how to proceed.”

Mayor Mike Caldwell says Ogden has several projects it will be fighting to fund, several of which are included in the city’s bicycle master plan.

• RELATED: Ogden biking master plan shows $7.9M in potential projects

“At this point, the money isn’t guaranteed,” the mayor said. “But we have a whole bunch of ideas for how to use it.”

Caldwell said the city’s bike-share program is a top priority, as is a link between the Ogden FrontRunner station and the Boyer Business Depot Ogden and several other projects.

The city’s bike-share program would include bike stations at six downtown locations and cost $484,686, according to the Wasatch Front Regional Council.

McGrath said Ogden’s project is a high priority, and the city could also receive new bus shelters and bicycle racks with help from the federal grant.

• RELATED: Ogden Mayor: building bus stops builds ridership

Pleasant View, Roy, West Haven, Bountiful, Clearfield, Layton, Farmington and Woods Cross are also expected to receive a piece of the grant.

You can reach reporter Mitch Shaw at mishaw@standard.net or at 801-625-4233. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23 or like him on Facebook.

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