U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Recommends $14.7 Million Toward Construction of Bus Rapid Transit in Grand Rapids, MI

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President’s FY 2013 Budget Recommends $2.2 Billion Recommended for 29 Capital Transit Projects Across America that Will Create Jobs, Opportunities

2/14/2012
Contact: Angela Gates
(202) 366-3669

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today recommended $14.7 million in new transit construction funding for a 9.6-mile bus rapid transit (BRT) line that will offer speedy, efficient access to Grand Rapids’ central business district and relieve congestion in one of the city’s busiest corridors.

The project is included in President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget submitted to Congress yesterday, which recommends $2.2 billion in funding to initiate or advance construction of 29 significant rail and bus rapid transit projects in 15 states.

“President Obama called on us to rebuild America by putting people back to work on transportation infrastructure projects that are built to last,” said Secretary LaHood. “Throughout Michigan, there is work to be done on projects like these. The budget proposal released yesterday demonstrates our commitment to putting people back to work building the infrastructure we need to improve our transit systems, highways, railways, airports and ports well in to the future. At this make-or-break moment for the middle class, we can afford to do no less.”

The President’s budget recommendation would provide funds to the Grand Rapids Interurban Transit partnership for a new Silver Line BRT system along busy Division Avenue from the Grand Rapids central business district to 60th Street at Division Avenue. The line would parallel US 131, which experiences heavy congestion on a daily basis.

“The Obama Administration continues to make transformational investments in our nation’s transit infrastructure that open the door to more jobs and opportunities for millions of Americans,” said Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff. “As the state of Michigan continues to rebound from a devastating recession, Grand Rapids’ ability to deliver more good transportation options like the Silver Line is key to moving this city forward economically, improving access to area employers, revitalizing downtown, and taking more cars off nearby roads.”

Last month, Secretary LaHood visited Grand Rapids to celebrate the ribbon cutting for the Rapid bus system’s new Wealthy Operations Center, a modern, efficient bus maintenance facility that will make it easier for area commuters to get where they’re going. The $32 million center was funded with $10.6 million in Recovery Act funds, $17.4 million in other FTA funds, and other sources.

Today’s recommendation is part of the FTA’s Annual Report on Funding Recommendations for Fiscal Year 2013, available online here. Individual detailed project descriptions are available here.

The New Starts and Small Starts capital investment program is one of the largest discretionary grant programs in the U.S. Government. Proposed projects, such as rapid rail, light rail, commuter rail, bus rapid transit, and ferries, are evaluated and rated on a number of measures at several steps in the process as they seek FTA approval for a federal funding commitment to finance project construction.

Secretary LaHood and FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff recently proposed changes to this program to cut red tape in order to allow approved projects to begin construction sooner and help FTA focus more on local needs, such as economic development, community revitalization, and responding to historically underserved populations.

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