Transportation staff at the Thomas Jefferson Planning District are putting the final touches on an application for federal funding from a new grant program created as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed by President Joe Biden earlier this year.
The Safe Streets and Roads For All program can be used to develop a safety action plan, plan for projects listed in the plan, or actually build projects listed in the plan. There’s a deadline of September 15 for eligible groups to apply.
Last week, Supervisor Ned Gallaway asked why Albemarle is not making its own application or participating with other localities.
“The TJPDC is putting a regional effort forward but it’s not the only way to participate,” Gallaway said. “You can participate as a county.”
Gallaway disagreed with staff’s decision to not pursue the funding and wanted an explanation.
Kevin McDermott, one of the county’s planning managers who specializes in transportation, said there have been limitations on staff time. He noted the county was recently awarded $2 million to plan for a multimodal trai l from the Blue Ridge Tunnel to Charlottesville via Crozet, funding that also flows from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. (read my story)
“This one was brought to us, the Safe Streets for All grant, was suggested to us through the TJPDC back in towards the end of July I think that the city of Charlottesville was interested in going for a grant,” McDermott said. “The way this is set up is that they favor regional groups going after this together.”
McDermott said his staff made the determination to not participate at this time because the timing wasn’t right.
“Part of those timing considerations are that as you may or may not know we are also going for a separate grant right now called the Reconnecting Communities grant and we are planning to bring that to the Board in early October to discuss that and ask your support for that one,” McDermott said.
McDermott said that project would seek to make improvements on U.S. 29 from the border with Charlottesville all the way north to the Rivanna River. He said the TJPDC is moving forward and last week there were briefings in Louisa County and Fluvanna County. Sandy Shackelford, transportation planning manager for TJPDC, confirmed that both localities are on board.
The Nelson County Board of Supervisors will be presented with the grant opportunity at their meeting tomorrow, as will the Greene Board of Supervisors. Localities will all have to make a local match not to exceed $30,000.
“So the idea would be to create a safety action plan for the entire region with the goal of reducing or reaching zero deaths on highway facilities in the region,” McDermott said.
Gallaway said Albemarle should be part of the regional safety plan, and he suggested setting aside the money for a local match in the hopes of qualifying the county to get federal dollars to build projects. He acknowledged the potential time crunch for staff.
“Sometimes it’s said you don’t want to put so many pokes in the fire but when it’s attempting to get money to solve transportation which many could argue is our number one issue in the county, we should as many pokes in the fire as we can,” Gallaway said.
McDermott said for Albemarle, the not-to-exceed amount for a local match would be $60,000.
Several other Supervisors also expressed support for Albemarle to join the regional program. They took action later on in the meeting to formally agree to participate.
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