Municipalities in Franklin County are being asked to stay away from seeking federal road improvement grants.
But that won’t stop Washington city staff from seeking outside funding for Downtown transportation improvements.
John Nilges, Washington public works director, said the city could still seek a transportation alternative program (TAP) grant for Front Street.
Earlier this year, Nilges mentioned to the Washington City Council he would be applying for the TAP grants in the fall.
On Monday, he told the Washington Area Highway Transportation Committee that the city has an advantage over many other communities in the East-West Gateway Council of Governments (EWGW) region because it has an Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) transition plan.
The plan gives the city an edge when seeking federal grants.
Nilges explained that TAP grants could be used for a Front Street overlay, sidewalks and apron projects, making them ADA compliant, which follows the city’s transition plan.
The sidewalks and intersections along Front Street haven’t undergone any major upgrades since the street was first renovated in the mid-1980s. Concrete intersections are crumbling and need replacement, Nilges said.
At the Oct. 24 Franklin County Transportation Committee meeting, Union City Engineer Jonathan Zimmermann requested that cities in the county, other than Union, not seek Surface Transportation Program (STP) and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) grant funding.
Each year funding for at least one project is granted to each entity of the regional planning and development group made up of cities and counties from both Missouri and Illinois.
The intent is that Union submit the only application for a Highway 47 and Highway 50 improvement project to EWGW and it would be awarded “by default.”
The proposition has not been approved, nor discussed by the Washington City Council, however, the county transportation committee was in favor of the request.
“Overall, I felt the committee supported it,” Nilges said. “Overall, the staff felt it was a wise decision.”
The TAP grants, and STP and CMAQ grants are not funded from the same source.
“That is important to us,” Nilges said. “This request from the county (transportation committee) does not affect the Front Street project — there are two different pots of money.”
The TAP grant is funded through the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) and the federal government. EWGW administers the grant.
The grant provides funding for on- and off-road pedestrian and bicycle facilities, infrastructure projects for improving nondriver access to public transportation and enhanced mobility, community improvement activities, environmental mitigation, and safe routes to school projects.
When asked by Councilman Steve Sullentrup, Nilges said the timing of the TAP grant project, if approved, fits well with the plan to bury power lines downtown.
The TAP grant potentially would fund new intersections, new pavers, sidewalks and other elements over the next a four- to five-years.
Several years ago, the city worked with Ameren Missouri to move the large distribution power line from Front Street to Third Street, but smaller utility lines, including electrical service lines, cable and phone lines, remain overhead.
Nilges previously stated that if the projects coordinated the right way the “utility cuts” to bury power lines will be done before sidewalks are installed.
The city was approved for a TAP grant in 2018 for the Busch Creek Greenway biking and walking path.