AAATA 2014-18 Capital Program OK’d

The 2014-2018 capital and categorical grant program – a plan for spending federal funds – has been given approval by the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority board. The action took place at the board’s Dec. 19, 2013 meeting. According to the AAATA, this year’s plan does not include additional capital needs that would be associated with a five-year service improvement plan in the urban core. [.pdf of 2014-2018 grant program] [.pdf of Dec. 10, 2013 planning and development committee presentation]

The five-year service improvement plan could be implemented by the AAATA with funding that will likely be sought through an additional millage sometime in 2014. That would require approval of a majority of voters in the three jurisdictions making up the AAATA – the city of Ann Arbor, the city of Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township.

Having in place such a capital and categorical grant program – a set of allocations for specific categories of capital expenditures – is a requirement to be eligible for federal funding. This year’s plan outlines how roughly $45 million would be spent over the next five years.

For example, this year the program includes:

  • purchase of small buses for paratransit services
  • construction of a “superstop” on Washtenaw Avenue
  • increase in funding for on-board systems for fixed-route and paratransit
  • a change in the number of vans per year for vanpool services
  • spreading out the replacement of the 19 2003 buses over four years
  • purchase of management software and business intelligence software
  • planning for projects like the connector, a possible high-capacity service for the corridor running from US-23 and Plymouth southward along Plymouth to State Street and further south to I-94

In last year’s program, no funds were programmed for dedicated park-and-ride lots. Based on minutes from the Jan. 10, 2013 meeting of the board’s planning and development committee, the lack of funding for park-and-ride lots drew concern from AATA board member Eli Cooper, who is also the transportation program manager for the city of Ann Arbor. In this year’s plan, $250,000 is designated for park-and-ride facilities in each of the first three years of the program.

The submission of the capital and categorical grant program is due to the Michigan Dept. of Transportation by Feb. 1, 2014. Annual approval of the AAATA’s capital and categorical grant program has typically taken place in January of each year, but the need to allow time for review by the newly established southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority (RTA) has moved up the timeline to December.

This brief was filed from the downtown location of the Ann Arbor District Library at 343 S. Fifth Ave., where the AAATA board holds its meetings. A more detailed report will follow: [link]