14 Mid-Missouri towns get federal grant money for local projects

Feb 4, 2015

The Missouri Department of Transportation central district selected fourteen applicants for federal funding from the Transportation Alternatives Program. The program is part of a federal mandate that requires states to allocate a certain amount of money to local transportation projects, such as constructing or repairing sidewalks, pedestrian paths, or bicycle trails. Missouri is allotted roughly $18 million, with the central district receiving $3 million.

For the 2014-16 fiscal years, applications were due this past November. In completing their applications, many city planners and administrators put in a large amount of effort to make sure that their proposals were detailed and up to the standards of MODOT. Centralia’s proposal asked for money to build a sidewalk connecting parts of the city with the middle school. Matt Harline, Centralia City Administrator, and his staff received help from the Mid-Missouri Regional Planning Commission to put together a comprehensive application that MODOT would find suitable to receive the grant.

“It requires some engineering and some skill writing a grant looking at the priorities sent by MODOT,” Harline said. “We have to remember that this is federal money and MODOT’s money and we’re only going to get it if we meet their objectives. When their objectives and our objectives meet, we can get a successful grant application.”

Ashland’s proposal for sidewalk repairs to a high traffic sidewalk also got approval for grant money. Ashland City Administrator, Josh M. Hawkins, attributes its success to the inclusion of city residents’ letters of support in the application.

“A lot of people around town offered their support in the form of a letter of support. It really helped build our case in the fact that this wasn’t just, you know, the Board of Alderman’s project. The community saw this as a need,” Hawkins said.

The selection process for the TAP grant is largely out of MODOT’s hands. MODOT has a group of planning partners comprised of regional planning commissioners and metropolitan planning organizations. These partners rank the projects within their areas based on the selection criteria for the grant. MODOT has no input into the ranking selection of the process except to verify that they meet the grant requirements. Jenni Jones, senior planner for the MODOT central district, explained that after the initial ranking is complete, the projects are selected based on their ranking and on the limitations of the money the district has.

"The planning partners looked at the rankings and then they made a determination of ‘Okay we agree that these projects, based upon the amount of money that we have and what those projects were estimated at, should get funding.’ So we had 14 projects out of the 32 that received funding for those three fiscal years,” Jones said.

In the central district, less than half of the applicants were selected. A sizeable factor in selection is the importance of the project to the community. All funded projects are viewed as necessary to public safety or well-being.

The Missouri Department of Transportation central district selected fourteen applicants for federal funding from the Transportation Alternatives Program. The program is part of a federal mandate that requires states to allocate a certain amount of money to local transportation projects, such as constructing or repairing sidewalks, pedestrian paths, or bicycle trails. Missouri is allotted roughly $18 million, with the central district receiving $3 million.

For the 2014-16 fiscal years, applications were due this past November. In completing their applications, many city planners and administrators put in a large amount of effort to make sure that their proposals were detailed and up to the standards of MODOT. Centralia’s proposal asked for money to build a sidewalk connecting parts of the city with the middle school. Matt Harline, Centralia City Administrator, and his staff received help from the Mid-Missouri Regional Planning Commission to put together a comprehensive application that MODOT would find suitable to receive the grant.

“It requires some engineering and some skill writing a grant looking at the priorities sent by MODOT,” Harline said. “We have to remember that this is federal money and MODOT’s money and we’re only going to get it if we meet their objectives. When their objectives and our objectives meet, we can get a successful grant application.”

Ashland’s proposal for sidewalk repairs to a high traffic sidewalk also got approval for grant money. Ashland City Administrator, Josh M. Hawkins, attributes its success to the inclusion of city residents’ letters of support in the application.

“A lot of people around town offered their support in the form of a letter of support. It really helped build our case in the fact that this wasn’t just, you know, the Board of Alderman’s project. The community saw this as a need,” Hawkins said.

The selection process for the TAP grant is largely out of MODOT’s hands. MODOT has a group of planning partners comprised of regional planning commissioners and metropolitan planning organizations. These partners rank the projects within their areas based on the selection criteria for the grant. MODOT has no input into the ranking selection of the process except to verify that they meet the grant requirements. Jenni Jones, senior planner for the MODOT central district, explained that after the initial ranking is complete, the projects are selected based on their ranking and on the limitations of the money the district has.

"The planning partners looked at the rankings and then they made a determination of ‘Okay we agree that these projects, based upon the amount of money that we have and what those projects were estimated at, should get funding.’ So we had 14 projects out of the 32 that received funding for those three fiscal years,” Jones said.

In the central district, less than half of the applicants were selected. A sizeable factor in selection is the importance of the project to the community. All funded projects are viewed as necessary to public safety or well-being.