Pima County seeks $41 million federal grant
In an effort to speed up the completion of the Urban Loop, Pima County has applied for a $41 million grant.
The grant is part of the second round of the federal government’s transportation-specific stimulus efforts.
In the first round of funding, Tucson received money for the streetcar
Nanette Slusser, Pima County’s assistant administrator, said the county did some research to make sure applying for the grant wouldn’t be a waste of time because the streetcar had already been funded.
“Before we committed our energy and money to doing this we checked that out,” Slusser said.
Matt Zoll, the county’s bike and pedestrian program manager, said this round of funding had more rules and requirements.
“They are more strict on this one,” Zoll said. “They have raised the bar.”
This time grant applications were required to include a cost-benefit analysis, which breaks down the construction and maintainence costs versus the benefits to the community.
According to the county’s application, the loop would require $41 million in federal money to complete and just over $700,000 a year to maintain.
Although the applications do not require the local government to offer matching money, Slusser said in their research they determined most of the previously funded projects offered some sort of matching.
Slusser said offering matching funds, “is evidence that the project is well developed and supported.”
According to the application, the majority of matching funds will come from a future bond election.
Slusser said the trend in the first round of applications was that the governments got 50 percent of the money they requested.
“None of them have been funded in full,” Slusser said. “Even if we make that cut we anticipate we would get, if we are lucky, maybe 50 cents on the dollar, maybe a lot less.”
Zoll said even if the county doesn’t receive money from this grant application, the work of Donna Lewandowski, the county employee handling the grant application process, will not be a waste because they have much better documentation about the loop and its benefits.
“If we go after additional federal and local sources, we have a better road map, Zoll said. “We’ve got better documentation of the value and justification of the system so that will help funding even small segments at a time.”
The application is seeking federal money for particularly challenging and expensive portions of the loop.
One such section is a two-mile portion of the loop that would connect the Houghton greenway to Sellarole Street on the east side of Tucson. The county is seeking $12.8 million for the stretch that will cost $16 million to complete.
Slusser said they won’t know anything for at least 30 days from the grant application deadline, which was August 23.
Download the application and cost-benefit analysis.
Get more info about the plan on the county’s Urban Loop website.