The Massachusetts Department of Transportation recently awarded $5.5 million in grants to 16 communities as part of the first round of its fiscal year 2023 Complete Streets funding program.
[Above photo by MassDOT]
Those grants help municipalities fund local multimodal infrastructure projects that improve travel for bicyclists, pedestrians, public transit users, and people using other forms of transportation. This is the thirteenth overall grant round for this program since the administration of Governor Charlie Baker (R) launched the program in 2016.
“The Complete Streets program has now awarded over $83 million in total funding through 444 technical assistance and construction awards since 2016 to support municipalities in their ongoing efforts to improve their transportation infrastructure, build safe, convenient, and easily accessible transportation networks and to facilitate economic development opportunities,” noted Gov. Baker in a statement. “This program continues to advance mobility and connectivity throughout the Commonwealth.”
MassDOT noted that a “Complete Street” is one that enables safe, convenient, and comfortable travel for users of all ages and abilities regardless of their mode of transportation. Additionally, some 60 percent of the total award dollars will fund projects located in “environmental justice” communities, the agency noted.
Those are where the median household income is equal to or less than 65 percent of the statewide median or where 25 percent or more of the residents identify as a race other than white or 25 percent or more of households have no one over the age of 14 who speaks English only or very well.
Municipalities may apply for up to $400,000 in construction project funding in one Complete Streets application, with project encompassing sidewalks, multimodal paths, bicycle lanes, improved street lighting, and pedestrian signalization at crosswalks or intersections.
“We are pleased to continue to work with municipal leaders to encourage the installation of infrastructure to help make for ‘Complete Streets’ everywhere,” added MassDOT Secretary and CEO Jamey Tesler. “We want everyone in every city and town in the Commonwealth to have sidewalks, crosswalks, and other features which make it easy and safe to get to where they want to go.”
In a related announcement, MassDOT noted its Safe Routes to School or SRTS program ranked number one, along with California’s in the annual “Making Strides” state report cards issued by the National Safe Routes Partnership, which measures how supportive states are of walking, bicycling, rolling, and providing tools and resources to help keep children and community members active.
Those report cards encompass four key areas: Complete Streets and Active Transportation Policy and Planning; Federal and State Active Transportation Funding; Safe Routes to School Funding and Supportive Practices; and Active Neighborhoods and School.
“We are honored to be recognized as a state that is ‘building speed’ in our efforts to support and fund active transportation programs for our children and communities,” said MassDOT’s Tesler in a separate statement.
He noted that the Massachusetts SRTS program, sponsored by MassDOT with funding from the Federal Highway Administration, promotes safer routes for students traveling to and from school via active transportation modes by fostering partnerships between community-led organizations, local law enforcement, education leaders, and public health departments. MassDOT’s SRTS program currently serves more than 1,000 schools in over 255 communities statewide.