Estes Park Taps Federal Land Access Grants

A view into how one city tapped the Federal Highway Administration’s FLAP grants for supplementary financing to fund transit infrastructure and improvements. We also delve into recent TIGER program awards

EG Transportation IIWhat Happened?
Estes Park, Colorado, received a $14 million grant from the federal government for transit and highway improvements that must be matched with a $5 million grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation.

The Goal
Estes Park has been unable to upgrade and revamp the major transit sections and highways in the city due to budgetary restraints. The Federal Land Access Program grant, however, will provide the necessary capital to support local initiatives through a 17.2 percent state matching requirement.

Once the grants have been guaranteed at both the federal and state levels, the local government, state department of transportation and Federal Highway Commission can start planning the transit improvement projects and inform residents of the upcoming construction. The federal government assists local agencies with conducting an environmental impact study prior to implementing permanent changes, as well as collect public feedback to ensure there is support.

The transit improvements include changing the routes of many main streets in the downtown area of Estes Park, helping to reduce traffic congestion and making it easier to navigate throughout the community. These changes aim to boost the quality of life for residents as well as support a growing tourism industry.

FLAP Program
The Federal Highway Administration’s Federal Lands Access Program is designed to be a supplementary financing program for state and local governments looking to improve or construct transit infrastructure and resources. Because funding is provided by federal and local authorities, the program is flexible and can accommodate a wide variety of projects. While the federal government offers sources of capital, local and state governments maintain responsibility over the construction and maintenance of all transit infrastructures.

TIGER Grants
Atlanta and Raleigh are also seeking assistance from the federal government to get transit projects off the ground and running.

The city of Atlanta has been awarded an $18 million TIGER V grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to add 2.5 miles off the city’s beltline. The project aims to rework a former freight rail line into shared use trails, trailheads and access ports. The city is also interested in creating a streetcar transit corridor to add alternative forms of public transit in the region.

The TIGER V grant from the federal government accounts for 42 percent of the total cost of development.

In Raleigh, the federal government has offered $10 million in TIGER grant funding to create new Amtrak train station to support transit to and from a booming warehouse district. To acquire the grant, the city must provide $73 million to meet the projected budget for the station, parking, a civic plaza and other nearby improvements. City officials expect the new train station to boost economic development locally, which will increase job opportunities for residents. If the city cannot meet the $73 requirement, officials will consider seeking additional federal grants to ensure the project goes off without a hitch.

The project started small and the original TIGER grant application requested $27.5 million for the city. After new plans were reviewed, however, the cost continued to rise and thus Raleigh has not yet found enough money for the project.

Federal Aid
EfficientGov has reported on the growing trend of local governments seeking federal aid for community projects.
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About the author

Barry Greenfield

Barry Greenfield is the founder of EfficientGov.com.