More than 1,000 applicants nationwide competed for $600 million in TIGER II grant funding. The EBRPD was the only park district in Northern California to receive TIGER II funds. Its application focused on completing critical gaps in its expansive nearly 200-mile paved regional trail system that connects communities, schools, employment centers and transportation nodes.
“We’re very pleased with this important award,” said EBRPD General Manager Pat O’Brien. “The park district began developing this integrated network of paved trails in the 1970s, and we’ve seen the use of these trails just explode with the population growth over the past several decades for both commuting and recreational purposes. With this grant, we will be able to expedite closing critical gaps in the Green Transportation network, providing a real boon to those who live and work in the East Bay.”
O’Brien applauded the local congressional delegation’s enthusiastic support and regional stakeholders and other organizations. “We had significant support because our elected officials and regional organizations understand the value of the Green Transportation Initiative. Work on the trail system will create hundreds of jobs and, once finished, the regional trail network will enhance East Bay communities by relieving traffic congestion and creating opportunities for a healthier lifestyle.” DOT received more than 80 letters of support from regional stakeholders in favor of the project.
In August, the EBRPD submitted an extensive application outlining seven projects where gap closures would provide a tremendous impact for connecting to local and regional transit. According to O’Brien, the EBRPD is focusing on what are called “last-mile connections” or the final segment that provides a safe convenient transit connection.
“Filling these gaps will have a multiplier effect with much greater usage of the new trail segments and the corresponding transit options,” said O’Brien. “A safe, convenient connection means commuters are much more likely to take public transit, walk or bike as a commute alternative to driving, and that benefits everyone, including commuters, transit agencies and our environment.” Studies have shown that the most cost-effective way to reduce congestion, greenhouse gasses and dependence on fossil fuels is by getting people out of their cars.
The seven projects parallel congested roads and provide commute alternatives for communities, including economically disadvantaged neighborhoods in Contra Costa and Alameda counties, to transportation centers, employment areas, schools, shops, parks and community services.
One of the primary selection criteria in the TIGER II grant award was that a project should enhance a region’s livability. The East Bay Green Transportation Initiative provides extensive qualitative benefits to the communities of the East Bay. The 265,000 residents living within one mile of these proposed projects will be provided with enhanced, healthful and non-polluting transportation choices. An additional 500,000 residents already live adjacent to existing trails and will also benefit.
In addition, the trail network improves economic competitiveness by connecting people directly to business parks and their places of work. A fully completed Green Transportation Network will make the East Bay an even more attractive place for new businesses and a highly skilled workforce to locate.
According to EBRPD Board of Directors President Doug Siden, this is the largest single competitive grant that the district has ever received. “The East Bay Regional Park District has always been quite innovative in providing East Bay residents with opportunities that mesh well with their lifestyles, whether for work or recreating. I’m quite pleased that this project, supported so well by our congressional delegation and area stakeholders, is very forward-thinking about how to achieve healthy, livable and sustainable communities that value walking, biking and transit.”
The total EBGTI project cost is estimated to be $43.3 million. The total percentage of project costs provided by the TIGER II grant program represents about 25 percent of the total project costs. The EBRPD will provide the remaining funds through its voter approved Measure AA and WW, and funding partners including SAFETEA-LU, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority, Contra Costa Transportation Authority, West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee, the San Francisco Bay Trail Project, and the cities of Dublin, Pleasanton and Hercules.
The entire application, along with detailed project descriptions, can be found on the EBRPD website, www.ebparks.org/ebgti. More details about funding for the EBRPD application will be released shortly, and the EBRPD will update the website as information becomes available.