New Federally Funded Projects for 2018

An average of $86 million in federal transportation dollars is spent on transportation projects throughout the northeast region of Minnesota. RoadConstruction

How that money is allocated

These funds are allocated according to a federal formula and managed by the state.  Most of this money (about $78 million) goes to MnDOT and is used to maintain the freeways, state highways and bridges in the region.  Approximately $5 million goes towards county highways, local streets, and transit in the,the MIC area.  A small allocation is also made for non-roadway projects, such as paved trails, through the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP).

Separate processes are conducted for the Duluth metro and the rest of the Arrowhead region.  The MIC administers the urban-area share of the funds and the Northeast Minnesota Area Transportation Partnership (NE MN ATP) is responsible for administering the rest.

Both the MIC and the NE MN ATP solicit, evaluate and select the specific roadway, transit and trail projects that will utilize the funds in those areas.  These processes have been underway since the start of the year.

Programming those funds in the TIP

As the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for this area, we are now finalizing the roster of all transportation projects slated to receive federal funding in the MIC area for the next four years.

This list is called the “TIP” (Transportation Improvement Program) and it must include all federally-funded transportation projects in the Duluth metro for the coming four years.  As projects in the current year get built, we add new ones to the outer year.  This time around, the outer year is 2018.

MIC Projects

It is our job to work with local communities to determine how our (increasingly scarce share of) federal transportation dollars are spent.

In a selection process that began in January, we solicited applications from local jurisdictions.  These potential projects were then published for public comment, evaluated and prioritized by the MIC’s Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) and recommended by the MIC Policy Board, submitted for consideration to the NE MN ATP, and, in June, approved for inclusion in the draft version of the Duluth Area TIP 2015-2018.

The following Duluth-area projects are being proposed for 2018 funding by the MIC:

 Decker Road Preservation

Resurfacing of Decker Road from Piedmont Avenue to Mall Drive.  Repairs to storm water, curb and gutter and sidewalk systems. ADA improvements and bike lanes/shoulders.

Jurisdiction: City of Duluth

Project Cost:             $1,412,500

Federal funds:          $   900,000

Local funds:              $   512,500

Highway Ramp Reconstruction

Reconstruct US Hwy 2 / I-35 southbound freeway ramps

Jurisdiction: MnDOT

Project Cost:             $495,670

Federal funds:          $383,720

State funds:              $ 95,930

Regular Route Bus Purchase

Purchase of three regular route vehicles to maintain existing fleet to safety, comfort, and efficiency standards.

Jurisdiction: Duluth Transit Authority

Bus Purchase Cost: $ 435,000

Federal funds:          $ 250,000

Local funds               $ 185,000

TAP Projects

In addition, the following Transportation Alternatives Program projects within the MIC have been forwarded for inclusion in the 2017 TIP projects list by the NE MN ATP:

 Construct 2 miles of sidewalk along Rice Lake Road

From Central Entrance to Arrowhead Road

Jurisdiction: St. Louis County

Project Cost:             $400,000

Federal funds:          $320,000

Local funds:              $ 80,000

Construct paved Lakewalk connection

Construct shared use path (Lakewalk) along Water St between 20th Ave East and 23rd Ave East

Jurisdiction: City of Duluth

Project Cost:             $231,809

Federal funds:          $185,447

Local funds:              $ 46,362

 

We want to know what you think!

Transportation projects are public facilities and services funded with taxpayer dollars.  Do you have any opinions about the importance of these proposed projects to our area?

Since they have been chosen for funding in 2018, is there anything you have to say about these specific projects?

 

Read the draft document

You can learn more details about these projects, as well as those lined up for years 2015, 2016 and 2017 from the draft TIP document, which is open for public comment from now until July 31.

 

Talk to us in person

Contact Senior Planner Robert Herling by phone at (218) 529-7573 or by email (INSERT EMAIL LINK), or…

 

Attend an Open House

You are invited to stop by in person to talk with us:

Wed, July 2, 7:00am – 1:00pm

Holiday Center (2nd floor skywalk level), 207 West Superior Street in downtown Duluth

Thurs, July 10, 8:00am – 5:00pm

MIC Office, 2nd floor skywalk level of the ARDC building, 221 W. First Street, Duluth.

 

Leave a comment at the end of this post

As we let you know on OpenMIC every year…there are three ways to have your say.

Public comments are being taken through Thursday, July 31, 2014.

 

Public Involvement in Transportation Planning

For many of us, transportation projects seem to come from nowhere.  Others may vaguely remember a project “promised” years ago.  Too often, people OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAdevelop negative impressions of the process by which transportation projects come into being because of the lack of information about how these decisions are made.

That’s where public involvement comes in.

Right now we are updating our Public Involvement Plan – the steps we take and the tools we use to facilitate two-way communication while our plans and studies are underway.  Public involvement gives community members an opportunity to provide input and lets our planning staff provide information, answer questions and understand their perspective.

Our work at the MIC is to study, analyze and make recommendations to make it easier for people and businesses to get where they need to go—whether by car, bike, bus, on foot, by air or on water.  We think about how well these transportation systems will function, and how they can be paid for, not just today but for the next 5, 10, even 25 years.

Public involvement ensures that these decisions are made with input from the people who know this area first-hand.

With this in mind, take a look at the draft of the MIC’s updated Public Involvement Plan.  We understand that there’s more to public participation than holding meetings.  We need to become more visible and find multiple ways to get people and organizations involved.

So let us know: will these steps help to encourage participation in the MIC’s planning activities, as well as to broaden the range of voices and views expressed?

 

What do YOU Think about These Projects?

We say it on OpenMIC every year…View of Mesaba Ave TIP project -location of 2017 roadway improvement

“As the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for this area, it is our job to work with local communities to determine how the federal transportation dollars that come to our area get spent.”

We are now finalizing the roster of local transportation projects that are slated to receive federal funding.  This list is called the “TIP” (Transportation Improvement Program) and it lines up projects for the coming four years.  As projects in the current year get built, we add new ones to the outer year.

This time around, the outer year is 2017, and these projects are the projects we’re adding:

  •  Resurfacing of Mesaba Avenue (I-35 to Central Entrance) – $2.1 million.
  •  Resurfacing of E 4th Street (from 6th Ave. E to Wallace Ave.) – $3.4 million.
  •  3 STRIDE Buses for the DTA – $200 thousand

Location of 2017 Rodway Improvement ProjectAs you can see –due in large part to a decrease in the federal funds now available–only two roadway improvement projects and a few new buses to the DTA’s special-needs STRIDE fleet can be programmed for 2017.

 Your Priorities?

These projects were evaluated and prioritized by the MIC’s Transportation Advisory Committee and recommended by the MIC Policy Board.

These decisions, however, also need to consider the public’s input, so we are asking you: are these the three projects you would have funded?  Since they have been chosen for inclusion in the TIP, is there anything you might have to say about these specific projects?

 View the Draft DocumentThree more STRIDE buses to be funded in the 2017 Duluth TIP

You can learn more details about these projects, as well as those lined up for years 2014, 2015, and 2016 from the draft TIP document, which is available for public review from now until August 21st .

 Talk to Us in Person

Or, you can ask us questions directly by calling (218-529-7573).  You are also invited to stop by our office during one of the TIP open houses scheduled for 7am-5pm on Thursday, July 18th and Friday, July 19th The place: 221 W First St., downtown Duluth, second floor.

Or, you can leave a comment at the end of this post.  As we let you know on OpenMIC every year…

There are three ways to have your say.

 

The New Normal?

As the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for this area, it’s our job to work with local jurisdictions to identify, plan for and program how federal transportation funds get used in the region.  We’re already working to line up funding for construction projects that won’t begin until 2017.

Those funds, not surprisingly, have become a lot more scarce.

Last year, as part of developing the TIP, (Transportation Improvement Program), a document that allows Duluth Area communities to use federal transportation dollars, we were talking about divvying up about $7.5 million in federal highway transportation funds for local roadway projects throughout Northeast Minnesota.

This year, the funding allocation for the same area is about $5 million.  Of that amount, $2.1 will go for projects to improve roads and transit services throughout Duluth, Hermantown and Proctor.

Spending to Meet Performance Goals

So, working within the “new normal” of funding restraints, it’s more important than ever to decide on projects that will fix critical maintenance needs.  (Not to mention, new construction is pretty much off the table). These federal dollars do have strings attached: they need to be spent on projects that will meet performance goals, i.e., to improve safety and traffic flow, in measurable ways.

Every year, jurisdictions in the Duluth metro (the Cities of Duluth and Hermantown as well as St. Louis County) tell us which projects they’d like to use federal funds for and we work with our Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and Policy Board to decide which ones are the most important.

We Want to Hear from You

Transportation projects are public facilities and services funded with taxpayer dollars, and therefore local citizens have a right to weigh in on such decisions, along with the planners, engineers and elected officials.

This year, the following transportation projects are being proposed by the City of Duluth, St. Louis County and the Duluth Transit Authority for our area:

  • Mesaba Ave Repairs – Concrete and joint repairs from Central Entrance to I-35 and repairs to bridges over Superior Street and 2nd Ave West
  • East 4th Street Repairs – Mill & overlay, safety improvements and ADA improvements (pedestrian ramps) from 6th Avenue East to Wallace Avenue
  • DTA STRIDE Buses – Purchase of three STRIDE replacement buses to maintain existing fleet to safety, comfort, and efficiency standards

Do you have any opinions

…about the importance of these proposed projects to our area?

Talk to Us – Online, In Person or by Phone:

  1. Make a comment, below,  or
  2. Stop by our office at 221 West First Street, ARDC entrance on the Skywalk level, or
  3. Call me with questions or comments–Robert Herling at (218) 529-7573.

Although it’s only March 2013, NOW is the time to give us your input on these proposed projects before funding decisions are made for 2017.

You have three ways to let us know.

Break Trail While the Sun Shines (and Plan for Them All Year Round)

This past week, after our first snowfall of the season, it’s been easy to spot the routes that people take when they travel on foot. 

Previously-invisible pedestrian pathways are revealed as the snow is packed down underfoot.  Some are traversed only lightly while others are obviously heavily used.  Some are tough going while others are (comparatively) easy to negotiate on foot.

The Lincoln Park Pedestrian Plan, one of our recent planning efforts, was dedicated to discovering that same information — what routes people (especially school-aged children) take as they make their way through the neighborhood and how “walkable” those pathways are.

During a walkability audit in the summer of 2011, an overgrown segment of Devonshire Street was identified as a significant barrier between the new Lincoln Park Middle School and the adjacent neighborhood.  (Check out the “before” picture, below, which shows James Gittemeier, a Senior Planner with the MIC, pointing out where a new trail could be built).

Community Trail Project

Two weeks ago (aided by a fortunate fair-weather interlude), students and community members worked to bridge that gap by building a new trail connection to the school.  By clearing brush, digging up roots and rocks and placing gravel, they created a footpath that links the existing sidewalks along Devonshire Street.

The result is a direct route between the school and the eastern section of the adjacent neighborhood as well as a pathway with a more gradual slope in a neighborhood perched on one of Duluth’s steepest hillsides. (In the “after” picture, at top of the page, you can see how there’s now a trail there, and that it’s being used even in the winter).

Community Planning Partners

The finished project may look like a simple little trail, but it’s a great example of how the MIC can leverage the resources and missions of multiple community partners to achieve mutual goals.

The MIC, as the MPO for Duluth and Superior, has a primary, long-term goal of developing a safe, integrated, multimodal transportation network for this region.

Project partners in this effort, the Healthy Duluth Area Coalition, the St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) have a primary, long-term goal of encouraging active lifestyles for our kids.

The City of Duluth, through its Comprehensive Plan and Parks and Trails initiatives, has a primary, long-term goal of strengthening neighborhoods by creating and maintaining connectivity through its sidewalks, bikeways and trails.

Safe Routes to School Planning

The Devonshire trail was a small, manageable project that began with conversations the MIC has had within the neighborhood and accomplished with the help of community volunteers of all ages.

We are now undertaking a new planning Safe Routes to School initiative to build on this work and this neighborhood enthusiasm.

Stay tuned for more information  as we work to involve the community in what we hope will be another successful “before” and “after” planning effort.