Stamford, Connecticut/Urban Transitway and Intermodal Transportation Center Improvements
Stamford Urban Transitway and Intermodal Transportation Center Improvements
The City of Stamford, in coordination with the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT), and the Southwestern Regional Planning Agency, is proposing to design and construct a one-mile Urban Transitway. This will consist of a bus lane, shared with high occupancy vehicles, that will provide a direct link from Interstate 95 to the Stamford Intermodal Transportation Center (SITC). The Urban Transitway project will include changes to the bus routes serving the SITC, improved pedestrian access, and the implementation of intelligent transportation systems (ITS). The SITC serves as a major transfer point for local bus and employer shuttle service and provides access to existing Amtrak and Metro-North rail service in the Northeast corridor. Currently, Metro-North operates 190 daily trains that stop at the SITC and approximately 2,500 riders use the service in the peak hours to commute from Stamford to New York City, while 1,500 riders travel inbound to employment opportunities in Stamford. To accommodate additional commuter capacity at the SITC, the City is expanding rail platform capacity and constructing a 1,200-space parking facility.
The total capital cost for the proposed Urban Transitway is estimated at $24 million (year 2000 dollars), with a proposed Section 5309 new starts share of $18.0 million. Because the proposed New Starts share is less than $25 million, the project is exempt from the New Starts criteria, and is thus not subject to FTA’s evaluation and rating (TEA-21 Section 5309(e)(8)(A)). However, the City of Stamford and ConnDOT wish to retain the eligibility of the overall SITC project to apply for additional federal funds in the future and have, therefore, submitted New Starts criteria for FTA evaluation and rating.
The overall project rating of Recommended is based on the project’s strong transit supportive existing land use plans and policies, the level of anticipated travel time savings, and the level of committed local funding to build the Urban Transitway. The overall project rating applies to this Annual Report on New Starts and reflects conditions as of November 2000. Project evaluation is an ongoing process. As new starts projects proceed through development, the estimates of costs, benefits, and impacts are refined. The FTA ratings and recommendations will be updated annually to reflect new information, changing conditions, and refined financing plans.
The Stamford Urban Transitway is the preferred alternative resulting from a series of studies that evaluated alternatives to improve accessibility to the Stamford Intermodal Transportation Center. FTA approved the City of Stamford’s request to initiate preliminary engineering on the Urban Transitway project in February 2000. The city plans to complete the environmental review during calendar year 2001.
Section 3030(c)(1)(A)(ix) of TEA-21 authorizes the Stamford “Fixed Guideway Connector” for final design and construction. Through FY 2001, Congress has appropriated $9.89 million in Section 5309 New Starts funds to the project.
The following criteria have been estimated in conformance with FTA's Technical Guidance on Section 5309 New Starts Criteria. It should be noted that the criteria reflect both the proposed investment in the Urban Transitway and the 1,200-space parking facility at the SITC. FTA has evaluated this project as being in preliminary engineering. The project will be reevaluated when it is ready to advance to final design and for next year’s Annual Report on New Starts.
The Medium project justification rating reflects the project’s strong transit supportive land use and mobility improvements, but below average cost effectiveness.
The City of Stamford estimates that improvements to the SITC will result in the following annual travel time savings:
Based on 1990 census data, there are an estimated 139 low-income households within a ½ mile radius of the proposed boarding points. This represents approximately 3 percent of the total number of households within ½ mile radius of the proposed stations.
The City of Stamford is currently classified as an “attainment” area for both ozone and carbon monoxide. The City of Stamford estimates that the project would result in the following annual changes in emissions.
The City of Stamford estimates that in the year 2005, the project would result in the following savings in regional energy consumption (measured in British Thermal Units - BTU).
Rating: Not Rated
Information in support of FTA’s measure for operating efficiencies is not available.
The City of Stamford estimates the following cost-effectiveness indices for the Urban Transitway and new SITC parking facility:
Transit-Supportive Existing Land Use and Future Patterns
The Medium rating reflects the moderate to high population and employment densities in the project corridor and the demonstrated integration of SITC improvements into land use planning and redevelopment of the surrounding area.
Existing Conditions: The Stamford Urban Transitway project corridor includes the area surrounding the SITC and the Stamford central business district (CBD). The existing land uses in the study area are a mixture of industrial uses, residential neighborhoods, and some commercial development. In 1990, the population and employment in the corridor was estimated at 12,800 (13/acre) and 6,950 (7/acre), respectively. The site is located near the Stamford CBD and will serve as the centerpiece for the new development and redevelopment of the area. Within the corridor, the population is expected to increase 37 percent and employment is expected to increase by 142 percent by 2020.
Future Plans and Policies: The Stamford Urban Transitway project is integrated with several strategies underway in Stamford to encourage the redevelopment of surrounding neighborhoods. These strategies are integrated with “1984 Master Plan for Amendment for the City of Stamford” and include a special “Transportation Center Design District” zoning designation in the City of Stamford’s zoning regulations. Additionally, the “Stamford Harbor Area Development Plan,” the state Enterprise Zone, and local community planning efforts have been coordinated to encourage development activity, improve pedestrian accessibility, and improve connectivity between the study area, the CBD, and the harbor area. The City is using other development programs (e.g., Brownfields) to augment planned development and redevelopment efforts adjacent to the project corridor. Additionally, there is strong business and neighborhood support for the Transitway project and associated improvements.
Local Financial Commitment
Proposed Non-Section 5309 Share of Total Project Costs: 25 %
Total project cost for the Urban Transitway is $24.0 million (year 2000 dollars). The estimated cost for the Urban Transitway and the SITC improvements is $44.0 million The City of Stamford proposes a Section 5309 New Starts share of $18.0 million (75 percent of total Urban Transitway costs); $5.8 million in City of Stamford bonds (24 percent); and $0.2 million in EPA Brownfields Pilot Program funds (1 percent).
Stability and Reliability of Capital Financing Plan
The Medium rating reflects the commitment of proposed non-New Starts funding for the Urban Transitway project.
Agency Financial Condition: The City of Stamford and the State of Connecticut are funding partners for a planned $150 million in improvements for the SITC and have demonstrated the financial capacity to undertake this portion of the project as part of an overall program.
Cost Estimates and Contingencies: The estimated cost of the project is $23.96 million (year 2000 dollars). This estimate was developed during the Alternatives Analysis phase of project development and will be updated during preliminary engineering. No contingency funding was identified as part of the capital costs and as the project progresses into preliminary engineering, the contingency costs will be updated and identified.
Existing and Committed Funding: The funding for the non-federal share of the project's capital costs will be provided primarily from the City of Stamford bond funding Of the $5.8 million in City of Stamford bond funding proposed for the project, $1.25 million has been appropriated from the City and the remaining $4.5 million is already programmed in the FY 2001 and FY 2002 City of Stamford capital budgets. An additional $0.2 million of funding is proposed from the EPA Brownfields Pilot Program.
New and Proposed Sources: The City of Stamford is considering using tax increment financing to leverage additional funds for the project. The City of Stamford is also developing a plan for a sponsorship program for private sector support of the project's incremental costs. Additionally, the City of Stamford is considering using CMAQ funding for additional elements of the project, which would be defined during preliminary engineering.
Stability and Reliability of Operating Finance Plan
Rating: Not Rated
According to the City of Stamford, current local bus routes will be modified to utilize the Urban Transitway without a significant change in bus service operations. Since the cost of the service will not be affected, no operating cost information was provided, and FTA did not rate the project on this measure. Prior to the completion of the preliminary engineering phase of project development, an Operating Finance Plan will be developed for the project and associated improvements.