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The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) yesterday announced that 21 transit agencies and municipalities will receive a share of $19.5 million in grants to support comprehensive planning projects aimed at improving access to public transit.The funds were made available through the FTA's Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Planning Pilot Program for communities developing new or improved mass transit systems, FTA officials said in a press release.FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan unveiled the grants in Tacoma, Wash., home to Sound Transit, one of the grant recipients.In partnership with the city of Tacoma, the Puget Sound-area transit agency will receive $2 million in funding to support the development of a mobility and economic development plan for communities along the proposed 2.4-mile Tacoma Link expansion, FTA officials said."Transit-oriented development is critical to the success of new projects and to the economy of the local communities they serve,” McMillan said. "These grants will help communities like Tacoma develop a transportation system that encourages people to use transit to reach jobs, education, medical care, housing and other vital services that they need."Other grant awardees include: • The Sacramento Area Council of Governments, which is slated to receive approximately $1.1 million to work with local partners to develop a set of policy and regulatory changes to encourage TOD in the areas surrounding the planned Downtown Riverfront Streetcar project. The changes include updated plans and guidelines for areas along the streetcar route, updated zoning codes that encourage TOD, an infrastructure assessment and an analysis of affordable housing. • GoTriangle in Durham, N.C., which will receive about $1.7 million to support its efforts to implement TOD along the Durham-Orange Light Rail project, which will link the cities of Durham and Chapel Hill. • The Chicago Transit Authority, which will receive $1.25 million to continue improvements to its Red and Purple linesPhoenix; Atlanta; and Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. are also slated to receive funding for TOD projects near streetcar lines.The remaining recipients can be viewed on the FTA's website.FTA's TOD Pilot Program was established under the current transportation funding authorization, known as MAP-21.To be eligible for the program, the planning work must be associated with a transit project for which the local community intends to seek funding through the FTA's capital Investment Grants program, FTA officials said.For more information on TOD related to streetcars, read this story from the August issue of Progressive Railroading.
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