Tuesday, November 18, 2008

PennDOT Promotes Smart Development

Transportation projects that make communities more walkable, livable and sustainable may be eligible for funding from a new state program. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is offering a total of $60 million through its Pennsylvania Community Transportation Initiative. PennDOT District Engineer Dan Cessna says the goal is to link transportation with land use planning in order to prevent roads from becoming more congested. He says that could mean projects that promote pedestrian safety, such as painted crosswalks. Or it could mean the development of a more grid-like traffic pattern to help take cars off of congested main arteries.

Cessna says PCTI is an example of a shifting paradigm at PennDOT. He says the agency has been trying to move in the direction of smart growth and flexible transportation options. Still, some smaller municipalities may find it difficult to take advantage of programs like PCTI. Royce Lorentz, a Slippery Rock Borough Councilman, says his municipality has a major transportation need but lacks the necessary resources because of its small size. PCTI, for example, is a reimbursement program. That means municipalities have to spend the money first, and then wait for a check. Lorentz says the project he has in mind would cost about ten times his borough's annual budget, so it's hard to find that kind of money to spend upfront.

The short application window may also be difficult for smaller municipalities with limited resources. PCTI was announced a couple of months ago. The deadline is December 15th.

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