U.S. DOT grants $153 million to Chicago

| 4/30/2008

For the second time in less than a week, the U.S. DOT has awarded federal grant money to a major city as part of the agency’s congestion initiative.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters announced on Tuesday, April 29, that Chicago will receive $153 million to develop a bus rapid transit system. The grant will fund four pilot routes in the new system. Buses will use their own dedicated lanes and be equipped with technology that gives them the right of way through busy intersections.

The grant is conditional upon Chicago privatizing its metered parking system by Dec. 31. A privatized system will lead to higher costs to park, DOT officials said.

“Higher street meter rates during the morning and evening rush periods will encourage commuters to take transit downtown instead of driving,” DOT officials stated in a press release.

The grant money comes from a program titled “National Strategy to Reduce Congestion on America’s Transportation Network.” The former transportation secretary, Norman Mineta, announced the program just before he resigned in 2006.

On Friday, April 25, Peters announced that Los Angeles will receive $213 million grant from the same program to fund bus transit and free up city money to pay for the conversion of high-occupancy vehicle lanes to high-occupancy toll lanes – part of the DOT’s effort to promote congestion pricing and tolling.

The New York State Assembly recently refused a $354-million federal grant to fund transit and assist New York City in implementing congestion tolls for vehicles entering Lower Manhattan.

Grant money for Los Angeles and Chicago came from the same pot of money, a DOT official told Land Line.

– By David Tanner, staff writer