Washington, D.C. – Members of the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) voted today to submit an application for a regional Priority Bus Transit Network to be funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
The current proposal, which is subject to refinement before its submission by the September 15, 2009 deadline, includes the creation of a number of priority bus corridors, as well as the reconstruction of K Street to include a Busway. The proposal as presented to the TPB today has a total cost of approximately $676 million, although that figure is likely to be scaled down prior to final submission to ensure that all components of the project could be concluded by 2012. Under the current proposal, ARRA funding would account for $276 million of the total cost.
“This proposal creates a multi-modal, multi-jurisdictional, regional approach to increasing transit usage and decreasing traffic congestion in the metropolitan Washington region,” said Harriet Tregoning, Director of the District of Columbia Office of Planning and Chair of the TPB’s Scenario Task Force.
Priority Bus Corridors would consist of enhanced bus service on new and existing routes throughout the region, including such features as dedicated bus lanes, traffic signal priority, skip stop service, enhanced pedestrian access, real-time passenger information, and enhanced bus stops, among others.
Under the proposal, 1.3 miles of K Street – from Mt. Vernon Square to Washington Circle – in Northwest Washington would also be transformed from its current form to provide for two lanes of bus-only traffic, with the option of a passing lane. Two lanes in each direction would be available to regular traffic.
The TPB’s proposal also includes an expanded regional bike-sharing program. The program would provide 1,600 bicycles at 160 bike-sharing stations in D.C., Alexandria, Arlington County, Bethesda, and Silver Spring. At the meeting, Board members expressed interest in expanding the bike-sharing service to such locations as College Park, Falls Church, and National Harbor.
Improving the region’s transportation system by utilizing priority bus transit was a primary topic of discussion at a recent conference on priority bus transit sponsored by the TPB, with the support of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).
The ARRA will provide the region with hundreds of millions of dollars in formula funding for transportation. The Recovery Act has also reserved $1.5 billion in funding to be distributed via a new multimodal discretionary funding program known as TIGER, (standing for “Transportation Improvements Generating Economic Recovery”).
The TIGER program, which would be the source of funding for the TPB’s proposal, requires that projects have a significant impact on the nation, metropolitan, or regional scale in order to be considered for funding. $300 million is the maximum amount available to any agency competing for part of the $1.5 billion.