Foxx visits Asheville to celebrate $14.6 million grant for River Arts District

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer celebrated the grant at a Sept. 12 event in the River Arts District. Photo by Cindy Kunst.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx was in Asheville today, Sept. 12, to award the city a $14.6 million federal grant to help complete an interconnected six-mile network of pedestrian, bicycle, roadway, and streetscape improvements in the River Arts District.

The grant had been announced a couple days earlier by local officials as they approved a $30 million Riverside Drive Redevelopment Plan that also calls for public restrooms and a mixed use development. The infusion of federal money covers nearly half the cost of the total plan and Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer hailed the award.

“This is a huge win for Asheville,” she said. “These funds will provide for the continued revitalization of our River Arts District, creating a shared community vision of expanded greenways, streets and sidewalk improvements, and development opportunities that will continue to generate economic growth for Asheville.”

The city was initially notified of the award by Sen. Kay Hagan, who sent a letter to Foxx in support of Asheville’s application, according to a press release from her office.

“This investment will allow Asheville to modernize its transportation system and provide new access for area residents to jobs, education and services,” said Hagan in a written statement. “Innovative projects like the East of the Riverway project will boost economic development by enabling easier transport to the River Arts District and downtown Asheville for residents and visitors.”

Hagan, a Democrat, is facing a challenge from Republican N.C. Statehouse Speaker Thom Tillis in this year’s election.

Before being appointed Secretary of Transportation by Obama in 2013, Foxx was the mayor of Charlotte.

The U.S. Department of Transportation sent out the following press release Sept. 12:

U.S. Department of Transportation Announces $14.6 Million TIGER 2014 Grant for Asheville’s East of the Riverway Multimodal Network Project
Demand Demonstrates Need for Greater Transportation Investment through GROW AMERICA Act

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx was in Asheville today to announce a $14.6 million TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant for the Asheville East of the Riverway Multimodal Network Project that will connect people in different neighborhoods to centers of employment, education and services, and enhance economic competiveness.  The project is one of 72 federally-funded transportation projects in 46 states and the District of Columbia that will receive a total of approximately $600 million from the Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) 2014 discretionary grant program.

“As uncertainty about the future of long-term federal funding continues, this round of TIGER will be a shot in the arm for local economies,” said Secretary Foxx.  “We’re building bridges from Maine to Mississippi, investing in transit, road and rail projects from Los Angeles to Detroit to New York City.  For every project we select, however, we must turn dozens more away – projects that could be getting done if Congress passed the GROW AMERICA Act, which would double the funding available for TIGER and growing the number of projects we could support.”

The Asheville project will complete an interconnected six-mile network of pedestrian, bicycle, roadway, and streetscape improvements. The project includes intersection work that will improve traffic flow, improve intersection geometry for truck movements and safety in the corridor. Other elements include four key bicycle and pedestrian facilities that complete an on-road and off-road system connecting neighborhoods to the commercial centers of the area.  These improvements will connect low and moderate income neighborhoods with jobs, neighborhood services and community assets in Asheville’s rapidly developing riverfront area.

“With the help of TIGER, Asheville residents and visitors will soon have even greater access to their community with the ability to bike and walk the city’s streets more safely and securely than before, including the roads near the French Broad River and in the Southside neighborhood,” said Secretary Foxx.

The GROW AMERICA Act, the administration’s surface transportation reauthorization proposal, would authorize $5 billion over four years for much-needed additional TIGER funding to help meet the overwhelming demand for significant infrastructure investments around the country and provide the certainty that states and local governments need to properly plan for investment.  The $302 billion, four-year transportation reauthorization proposal would provide increased and stable funding for the nation’s highways, bridges, transit and rail systems without contributing to the deficit.  The GROW AMERICA Act also includes several critical program reforms to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of federal highway, rail and transit programs.

The Department received 797 eligible applications from 49 states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia, an increase from the 585 applications received in 2013.  Overall, applicants requested 15 times the $600 million available for the program, or $9.5 billion for needed transportation projects.

Since 2009, the TIGER program has provided nearly $4.1 billion to 342 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Demand for the program has been overwhelming, and during the previous five rounds, the Department of Transportation received more than 6,000 applications requesting more than $124 billion for transportation projects across the country.  Congress provided the most recent funding as part of the bipartisan Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014, signed by President Obama on January 17, 2014.

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About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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