Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced that President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget includes $57 million for the construction of Grand Rapids’ Laker Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project. The project is one of 31 transportation projects in 18 states recommended to receive a share of $3.5 billion in federal funding through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Capital Investment Grant (CIG) Program.
“Since 2009, the Obama Administration has funded nearly 100 new and expanded mass transit projects across the country, including Michigan,” said Secretary Foxx. “These projects transform communities, improving mobility and access to jobs, education and other important opportunities for millions of residents. Public transit is an important ally in the effort to ensure that hard-working Americans are offered a chance to succeed in the 21st-century economy.”
The 13.3-mile Laker Line BRT system would provide service between downtown Grand Rapids and the Grand Valley State University, improving access to jobs and schools, giving a significant boost to West Michigan’s economy. The Laker Line BRT would also serve as a catalyst to support plans for higher density mixed-use and walkable development, including increased student and senior housing and fit with a growing regional emphasis on multimodal transit options.
“We are very pleased that the Laker Line is included in the President’s FY17 budget. Of the 32 projects that were considered, not only was the Laker Line chosen for federal investment, but it was one of only three projects to receive the highest rating given in the process, specifically in terms of the project’s cost-effectiveness and environmental benefits,” said The Rapid CEO Peter Varga.
“FTA is proud to partner with communities in Grand Rapids and across the country to bring more transportation options to residents and help accommodate our nation’s growing population,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “This investment in Grand Rapids’ public transportation network will improve the mobility and quality of life for thousands of residents, provide an alternative to traffic congestion, and spur more economically vibrant communities.”
Varga noted the factors that contributed to the Laker Line project’s grant award are the successful implementation and continued progress of the Silver Line. “The Rapid has shown its ability to develop and operate successful BRT service and demonstrate the return on investment the FTA expects when considering new projects. Strong community support, including the partnership with GVSU to provide operating funding for the line once it opens, also weighed heavily in The Rapid’s favor. Finally, the commitment from the Michigan Department of Transportation to provide the capital funding match needed to secure the grant was instrumental in the project being approved.” said Varga.
FTA’s highly competitive CIG Program is the federal government’s primary grant program for funding major transit capital investments that are locally planned, implemented and operated. It provides funding for investments such as new and expanded heavy rail, commuter rail, light rail, bus rapid transit and streetcar projects. The program includes funding for three categories of eligible projects, as defined by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act: New Starts, Small Starts and Core Capacity.
Funding recommendations for Fiscal Year 2017 include:
- $1.4 billion for 10 New Starts projects already under construction in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Denver, Orlando, Honolulu, Boston, Charlotte and Portland, with additional funds recommended to accelerate completion of these projects;
- $950 million for seven New Starts projects not yet under construction in Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Ana, National Capital Area in Maryland, Minneapolis, Fort Worth and Seattle;
- $458 million for 10 Small Starts projects not yet under construction in Tempe, Sacramento, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Grand Rapids, Kansas City (Missouri), Albuquerque, Everett and Seattle, Washington;
- $599 million for four Core Capacity projects to improve capacity on existing, heavily used transit lines in the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, New York City and Dallas; and
- $75 million for the Expedited Project Delivery for Capital Investment Grants Pilot Program — a new pilot program outlined in FAST that allows FTA to select up to eight projects seeking 25 percent or less in Federal funding and using a public-private partnership approach.
FTA’s Annual Report on Funding Recommendations for the Fiscal Year 2017 CIG Program, including links to individual project profiles, is available on FTA’s website.
Visit lakerline.org for more information about the Laker Line.