Friday, February 19, 2010

Secretary LaHood announces $50 million for Missouri’s Fifth District – 4,569 jobs

Secretary Ray LaHood and Congressman Cleaver announce $50 million TIGER grant to the Mid-America Regional Council for Green Impact Zone and Regional Transit

TIGER roared into town on Wednesday, when I was proud to join U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to announce that the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) received $50 million as part of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grant program. This money will create 4,569 jobs while providing neighborhood improvements in the Green Impact Zone of Missouri and key transit connections from the urban core to the rest of the Metropolitan area including Independence.

Last summer President Obama hailed the Green Impact Zone for “transforming a low-income community into a national model of sustainability by weatherizing homes and building a green local transit system.” Now the administration’s support of the concept is coming to fruition.

Within the Green Impact Zone, sidewalks will be constructed and repaired, street lighting improved, curbs installed and streets rehabilitated. At 39th & Prospect, bus turnarounds and shelters are planned to create a safer and more comfortable environment for residents waiting to board buses. Work will begin this spring on reconstruction of the Troost Bridge over Brush Creek which received money as part of this grant. In addition, funds are allocated for traffic signal upgrades throughout the Green Impact Zone.

This is the largest investment in infrastructure on the east side of Troost since the Bruce R. Watkins Drive and Brush Creek projects. It is far past time that these neighborhoods get what many other neighborhoods take for granted: well lit streets, curbs, roads that aren’t falling apart and sidewalks where their kids can play safely. These are essential building blocks for neighborhoods that are stable and sound. We are about 40 years overdue in installing these essentials in the urban core. With this money we will start to make amends for that injustice and put people back to work.

As Secretary LaHood said, “TIGER grants will tackle the kind of major transportation projects that have been difficult to build under other funding programs. This will help us meet the 21st century challenges of improving the environment, making our communities more livable and enhancing safety, all while creating jobs and growing the economy.”

In addition to the $26.2 million allocated to the Green Impact Zone, the TIGER award will invest millions in improved transit connections throughout the region, focused on connected urban core residents to jobs in a safe reliable way. These investments will include replacing two aging transit centers in the State Avenue corridor in Kansas City and approximately 80 bus-stop and related pedestrian improvements in the urban corridor network. The investments will focus on urban core revitalization, reinvestment to increase population and job growth. These projects will build on the success of the cost-effective bus rapid transit (BRT) service introduced on Main Street called MAX (Metro Area Express). The region’s second BRT corridor, Troost Avenue, is fully funded and currently under construction thanks to earmarks I was fortunate to have already secured.

Secretary LaHood told the crowd Wednesday that we should be very proud of our application as this was one of the most competitive grants in the entire recovery package. I can say we are very happy to be one of the 51 funded out of the more than 1400 submitted.

The Kansas City regional project was selected from more than $60 billion in requests submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Awards throughout the country totaled $1.5 billion. The Kansas City Regional TIGER application will be administered by the Mid-America Regional Council. The TIGER program required that projects be shovel ready and be able to generate short- and long-term economic impacts, generate added outcomes of livability, promote safety, and involve innovative technology and financing.

The Department’s selections were based on the ability of projects to provide economic benefits, improve safety and the condition of the existing transportation system, increase quality of life, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and demonstrate strong collaboration among a broad range of participants. Congratulations to all …now let’s go put some people to work!