The TPB’s Transportation Land-Use Connections Program (TLC) gets projects started with technical assistance to set them up to receive funding for construction from programs such as the Transportation Alternatives (TA) Set-Aside Program.
The TPB began the TLC program in 2006 and has since provided services to local jurisdictions to identify creative, forward-thinking, and sustainable projects. The program aims to create more vibrant communities, promote development close to transit, revitalize existing communities, and improve the overall quality of life. TLC projects are typically small – between $30,000 and $80,000 – but they often provide the first steps in finding solutions to some of the many transportation challenges that local jurisdictions may face.
The TLC program provides consultant services to create plans and studies and it can also fund preliminary engineering activities – often called the “30-percent design” phase. However, TLC funding cannot be used for construction or final design work – and that’s where the TA Set-Aside Program can help.
The TA Set-Aside Program was established by federal law to fund construction and final design for a variety of smaller-scale transportation projects, including trails and other pedestrian and bicycle amenities. Under federal law, the TPB selects projects every year for a portion of TA-Set-Aside funds. In recent years, a number of TLC projects have moved forward with TA Set-Aside grants.
Here are three examples of projects around the region that started as TLC projects and later received TA Set-Aside funding:
The Frederick Golden Mile project
The City of Frederick’s Golden Mile Multimodal Access Enhancement Plan was first selected as a TLC project in 2014. The first project prepared a plan to enhance multimodal access and increase safety along the Golden Mile Corridor. Then in 2017, the city of Frederick was selected for a TLC project which awarded technical assistance to prepare 30% design documents. The project was aimed to improve transit access, identify pedestrian, and bicycle connections, and encourage using alternate forms of transportation.
The TPB encourages TLC projects that support a variety of travel options and ones that are featured in Equity Emphasis Areas, which are defined as “census tracts with higher than average concentration of low-income, minority populations, or both.” These main attributes made the Golden Mile project a great candidate for selection.
Years later in 2019, the TPB selected the Golden Mile Multi-Modal Access Project for funding from the TA Set-Aside program. Building on the previous planning and design work funded by the TLC Program, the project will provide 100% of the design for a shared use path of 1.25 miles along US 40 that improves safety for pedestrians and bicycles. Due to the TLC’s success and coordination and the TA Set-Aside program, the improvements made in the Golden Mile in Frederick County is working to foster a better and more livable community.
Arlington’s Americans with Disabilities Act Study
Arlington County’s Americans with Disabilities Act Evaluation Study was selected as a TLC project in 2012. The project’s purpose was to evaluate the current conditions of sidewalks, curb ramps, and intersections within the Rosslyn-Ballston transit corridor. The jurisdiction identified a goal to “ensure pedestrian facilities are accessible to all residents, including people with disabilities and mobility limitations” as a key component to the project. The TPB is looking for projects like this which have highlighted how important it is to provide travel options for people with disabilities. The jurisdiction’s commitment to ADA made this an ideal candidate for TLC funding.
In 2019, the TPB selected the Rosslyn–Ballston ADA Improvements for funding as a TA Set-Aside project. The project will fix sidewalks and streets to eliminate things that may restrict access for persons with disabilities. In 2012, the TLC study identified specific locations that were in need of more accessible sidewalks. These projects aim to improve people’s lives by providing a safer and more inviting streetscape. Enhancing the transit corridor of Rosslyn-Ballston for those living with disabilities will make this an accessible space for everyone and that is what the TLC program and the TA Set-Aside program is looking to support.
Capital Crescent and the C&O Towpath
The TPB selected DC’s K Street / Water Street Pedestrian and Bicycle Connectivity Enhancement project to receive TLC assistance in 2016. The project’s purpose was to create a plan to improve bicycle and pedestrian access, public space, and trail connectivity along K Street and Water Street. One of the design strategies included creating a clear connection between the Capital Crescent Trail and the Rock Creek Trail. The project is located in Georgetown, which is a regional Activity Center. The region’s 141 Activity Centers are places throughout the region are hubs of economic activity where people can live, work, play, and have access to a variety of transportation connections. The TLC program seeks to strengthen transportation and land-use connections in the region’s 141 Activity Centers
Later in 2019, the TPB chose the Capital Crescent and C & O Canal – Georgetown Trailhead Improvements to receive funding from the TA Set-Aside program. This project will create a new trailhead at the Georgetown connection point of the Capital Crescent Trail and the C & O Canal Towpath, two of the most heavily traveled bicycle and pedestrian trail routes in the region. Due to TLC assistance, a plan which provided recommendations for a better trail connection led to designs to improve the site.
Small projects with a big impact
Although TLC projects may be small, these projects can allow for larger opportunities through the Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside Program. These three case studies show how the TLC program can be used as a catalyst for ongoing development and opportunities.
The TLC Program is now accepting applications until April 2, 2019. If you have an idea for a potential TLC project, we encourage you to submit an application. Visit mwcog.org/tlc for more information.
The TPB will approve a slate of projects at its meeting on May 15. Projects are expected to be underway in the fall of this year. Applicants have the option to submit an abstract for feedback before they submit their application by February 22, 2019. Feedback on the abstract will be provided roughly within a week of the abstract deadline.
Sarah Bond is the Transportation Land Use Connections intern at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. She is a graduate student at the University of Maryland, pursuing her Masters in Community Planning.