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The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced yesterday it has awarded $16.6 million in grants to support future development that will improve access to rail and other transit systems.The funds — which were awarded to 20 agencies and municipalities — are being made available through the FTA's Pilot Program for Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Planning, which assists communities that are developing new or expanded mass transit systems, FTA officials said in a press release.The grants will fund comprehensive planning to support transit ridership, multimodal connectivity, and mixed-use development near transit stations."Convenient and safe access to public transportation can improve mobility," said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams.Award recipients and their grant amounts for TOD around rail projects include:• Maryland Department of Transportation, which will receive $2 million to plan for TOD along the Maryland Purple Line, a 16.2-mile light rail project under construction linking Montgomery and Prince George's counties;• Chicago Transit Authority, $1.48 million, to plan for TOD along a proposed 5.3-mile southern extension of the Red Line;• Metro in Portland, Oregon, $1,076,000, to work with the city to identify affordable housing, economic development and business stabilization opportunities along a proposed 2.3-mile streetcar extension to Montgomery Park;• Jacksonville Transportation Authority in Florida, $1,015,280, to plan for TOD along the Ultimate Urban Circulator, a project that would turn the existing Skyway monorail system in Jacksonville into an autonomous circulator;• Winston-Salem, North Carolina, $1 million, to develop a comprehensive plan for the 5.4-mile corridor along the North-South Urban Circulator, a proposed streetcar connecting colleges, jobs and the city's downtown area;• Charlotte, North Carolina, $920,000, to plan for development along the proposed LYNX Silver Line light-rail extension from Gaston County to the airport, Uptown Charlotte, Mathews and Union County;• Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority in New York, $777,943, to zone for mixed-use development along the Amherst-Buffalo Corridor Light-Rail Extension project; • Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority in Texas, $600,000, to support TOD planning along the MetroRail Green Line, a proposed 15-mile commuter rail service between the cities of Austin and Manor; and• Kansas City Area Transportation Authority in Missouri, $250,000 to plan for TOD along the 17.7-mile Rock Island Railroad Corridor, where a fixed guideway project is being planned to connect three major cities in the Kansas City region.The FTA's TOD program was established under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) in 2012 and continued by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act in 2015. The program is authorized through fiscal year 2020.