A Region Connected Project Prioritization Strategic Funding Plan

Page created by Joel Buchanan
A Region Connected Project Prioritization Strategic Funding Plan
A Region Connected             Project Prioritization Strategic Funding Plan
 CINCINNATI USA REGIONAL CHAMBER                                               1
A Region Connected Project Prioritization Strategic Funding Plan
A Region Connected Project Prioritization Strategic Funding Plan
Executive Summary                  Page 04

Section 1:
Introduction                       Page 07

Section 2:
Federal Discretionary
Funding Opportunities              Page 09

Section 03:
Strategic Funding
Recommendations                    Page 15

Central Parkway Beautification		   Page 19

CROWN Urban Trail Loop             Page 23

Fort Washington Way Lids           Page 28

I-71/75 and I-275 interchange      Page 32

Millikin Way Interchange           Page 36

Regional EV Charging Strategy      Page 39

A Region Connected Project Prioritization Strategic Funding Plan
    The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber (the Chamber) undertook this
    study in partnership with the region’s transportation agencies and
    other key stakeholders in order to summarize, analyze, and potentially
    pursue the newly available funding resulting from the enactment of
    the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), also referred to as the
    Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).

    The study has two major goals:

      GOAL 01                                    GOAL 02
      To provide the Chamber’s member            Develop a strategic plan for leveraging
      organizations with information regarding   these new opportunities to pursue
      the increased funding levels to existing   funding for projects that can help deliver
      transportation programs, a description     the Chamber’s vision for a Connected
      of the new programs created by the IIJA,   Region. This report is prepared in support
      and the potential for such programs to     of this goal.
      support local priorities. The Chamber
      released a summary report on IIJA
      funding opportunities in June 2022.

4                                                     CINCINNATI USA REGIONAL CHAMBER
A Region Connected Project Prioritization Strategic Funding Plan
This report summarizes the discretionary
   The six projects detailed in this report          programs available to fund the six projects
   are not the sum total of projects that the        selected for analysis and includes strategies to
   Chamber supports or plans to support              position them for successful grant applications.
   for pursuit of federal funding. That list         Although the recommendations are tailored
   is much longer and includes critical              for the specific projects, the strategies can
   regional projects. For example, the Brent         be applied broadly to other projects that are
   Spence Bridge, the Western Hills Viaduct          potentially pursuing discretionary grant dollars.
   and much of the implementation of
                                                     Across the six projects evaluated and the
   Reinventing Metro are projects that align
                                                     strategies developed, the importance of telling
   with the Chamber's Connected Region
                                                     the projects’ “stories” is paramount and consistent
   vision and have already received grants
                                                     throughout this report. All discretionary grant
   thanks to the IIJA and should certainly
                                                     programs are oversubscribed and the volume
   remain priorities for the region. Rather,         of quality projects competing for limited dollars
   these six projects were identified in part        is substantial. Because of this, a key strategy
   because the strategy to seek funds is less        to compete for limited funding is to effectively
   clear, and the Chamber’s efforts to support       describe in a clear, concise, compelling manner
   the project sponsors in developing that           how the projects will improve the lives of
   strategy helps advance the cause.                 Cincinnatians and further the strategic goals
                                                     of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
                                                     These narratives require coordination among
Through outreach and coordination with
                                                     stakeholders to demonstrate broad and diverse
transportation stakeholders, the Chamber
                                                     support for the projects and help them stand
identified six different projects to evaluate,
                                                     out for reviewers, improving their chances of
each of a different project type and addressing
                                                     selection for funding.
different needs. These projects are a
representative sample of the many projects
in various stages of development around our
Connected Region and serve as case studies
in positioning for transportation discretionary
funding available from the IIJA.

Although the IIJA increases transportation
funding across the board for Cincinnati with a
nearly 24 percent increase in funds distributed
by formula, the IIJA also provides for nearly
three times the amount of funding historically
available through transportation discretionary
funding programs. Because much of the formula
dollars will address project backlogs, and with
purchasing power decreased by inflation,
discretionary programs represent unique
opportunities to secure federal dollars to deliver
critical projects in the region.

CINCINNATI USA REGIONAL CHAMBER                                                                            5
A Region Connected Project Prioritization Strategic Funding Plan
This report could not have been produced without the support and guidance of
    so many. The Chamber would like to thank our funding partners the Cincinnati
    Business Committee, the Cincinnati Regional Business Committee, and REDI
    Cincinnati for their investment and support.

    This work was also guided by a set of stakeholders and advisors who committed their time and
    knowledge to ensure we identified and selected projects of value to the Cincinnati region.
    We would like to thank the following for their engagement:

    Joe Allen, GE Aerospace                             Kimm Lauterbach, REDI Cincinnati
    Eric Beck, Hamilton County Engineer                 Gary Lindgren, CBC/CRBC
    Jeff Berding, FC Cincinnati                         Candace McGraw, CVG Airport
    Phil Castellini, Cincinnati Reds                    Mary Miller, Jancoa
    Bobbi Dillon, Procter & Gamble                      Meeka Owens, Cincinnati City Council
    Kevin Donnelly, REDI Cincinnati                     Kristi Phillips, CBC/CRBC
    Eric Kearney, Cincinnati African                    Wym Portman
    American Chamber                                    Barbara Turner
    Kris Knochelmann, Kenton County                     George Vincent, Dinsmore
    Judge Executive
                                                        Tom Williams, North American Properties

    We would like to thank our public partners and project sponsors and advocates for providing the
    critical data and content that underpins this report. Those partners include:

    Butler County                                       Hamilton County Engineer
    Butler County Regional Transit Authority            Hamilton County
    Butler County Transportation                        Kentucky Transportation Cabinet
    Improvement District                                Liberty Township
    Cincinnati Department of Transportation             Ohio Department of Transportation
    and Engineering
                                                        Ohio Kentucky Indiana Regional Council
    CVG Airport                                         of Governments
    Development Strategies Group                        Southwest Ohio regional Transit Authority
    Duke Energy                                         Tri-State Trails
    Government Strategies Group

6                                                                CINCINNATI USA REGIONAL CHAMBER
A Region Connected Project Prioritization Strategic Funding Plan

The Chamber undertook a process to understand the region’s transportation
funding, how it may be affected by the IIJA, and considering that funding, how
the region could leverage the increase to advance critical transportation projects,
consistent with the Chamber’s vision for a Connected Region. Task 1 in this process
was to develop a summary of funding opportunities created by the IIJA. The findings
of that report are summarized below:

Task 1 Federal Transportation Funding                                       While discretionary funds still represent a
Analysis and Forecast1                                                      small portion of the overall funding available,
                                                                            this increase in funds and programs creates
Through interviews with transportation
                                                                            tremendous opportunity.
stakeholders in the region as well as analysis of
funding amounts reported by the White House                             The funding increase is significant and will help
and the U.S. Department of Transportation, the                          to close the region’s current funding shortfall
team made the following findings:                                       across all transportation infrastructure types.
                                                                        However, many of the region’s agencies reported
    y The region would have been allocated
                                                                        that these baseline increases would not generally
      approximately $250 million in federal
                                                                        go beyond addressing existing deficits, and
      transportation funds per year with a
                                                                        noted challenges associated with leveraging
      continuation of existing funding levels
                                                                        these opportunities because of restrictions on
      under the Fixing America’s Surface
                                                                        eligible expenses, local match requirements, and
      Transportation (FAST) Act.
                                                                        other considerations.
    y The region can expect allocations of
      approximately $300 million under the IIJA.                        Task 2 Strategic Approach for Pursuing
                                                                        Discretionary Funding Opportunities
    y This represents a 24 percent increase
      in baseline funding (i.e., funding that is                        As outlined in the Task 1 Report, the increase in
      distributed by formula).                                          baseline funding for the Cincinnati region will
                                                                        address project backlogs but may be insufficient
    y Formula programs were increased between
                                                                        to fund the ambitious development planned
      20 percent and 30 percent on average
                                                                        for the region. Because of this, discretionary
      (in line with expected distributions to the
                                                                        programs are valuable tools in closing funding
      region), but discretionary programs, which
                                                                        gaps and supporting delivery of projects that
      are available nationally and award funding
                                                                        may have difficulty securing necessary funding
      through competitive grants, increased by
                                                                        through traditional means. Task 2 examines a
      orders of magnitude – over the next five
                                                                        representative sample of projects across the
      years, approximately 300 percent more
                                                                        region that could pursue discretionary funding
      money is available each year in discretionary
                                                                        programs under the IIJA.
      transportation funds than in previous years.

1. The full Task 1 report is available on the Chamber’s website here.

CINCINNATI USA REGIONAL CHAMBER                                                                                               7
A Region Connected Project Prioritization Strategic Funding Plan
    In an effort to align regional policy makers and
    transportation stakeholders toward a shared vision
    for transportation investments, the Chamber released
    “The Connected Region” in 2018.

    The goal of the Connected Region is to guide the region’s
    transportation investments and policy decisions to better
    connect people to jobs, education, healthcare and all that
    the Cincinnati region has to offer. The vision lays out five
    principles for the community to embrace:

      y Invest in the Future of Public Transit

      y Improve and Maintain Infrastructure

      y Drive Innovation and Future-Oriented Investments
        and Projects

      y Provide People with Choices That Fit Their Lifestyle

      y Align Regional Decision Makers Toward the Vision

    The Chamber’s transportation work is supported and
    advised by the Transportation Business Coalition, a
    group of senior business leaders from across the
    Cincinnati region.

8                                                                  CINCINNATI USA REGIONAL CHAMBER
A Region Connected Project Prioritization Strategic Funding Plan

The IIJA provides historic levels of federal funding that will accelerate the
modernization of the nation’s roads, bridges, transit, ports, airports, and pedestrian
infrastructure. The IIJA appropriates over $257 billion for transportation funding over
the 2022 to 2026 period through a combination of increased annual formula funds
and the expansion of existing and introduction of new discretionary grant programs.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR THE                                     BASELINE FUNDING INCREASE
CINCINNATI REGION?                                            As shown in Table 1, if funding levels from
It creates an opportunity to strength                         the previous transportation authorization bill
partnerships among local governments,                         (the FAST Act) had continued, the Cincinnati
transportation providers, and the private sector              region would have received an average of
to develop an implementable strategy to bring                 approximately $246 million per year in baseline
federal transportation funds to the Cincinnati                federal funding from the FHWA and FTA over
region to accelerate the implementation of                    the next five years. Table 2 highlights that
projects that create a more connected region.                 following the passage of the IIJA, the Cincinnati
                                                              region can expect to receive an average of
As described below, there are two ways the                    approximately $305 million per year in baseline
increased federal funding will come to the                    federal funding over the next five years, which is
region: annual formula funds (baseline                        equivalent to a 24 percent increase.
funding) and discretionary (competitive)
grant opportunities.

Table 1: Estimated Baseline Federal Funding Continuing Pre-IIJA Levels ($ in Millions)
PROGRAM 2022            2023      2024      2025      2026        5 -YEAR TOTAL
FHWA         $211.6     $216.5    $221.5    $226.7    $231.9      $1,108.3             900

FTA          $22.8      $23.5     $24.2     $24.9     $25.7       $121.1

TOTAL        $234.4     $240.0    $245.7    $251.6    $257.6      $1,229.4               0

Table 2: Estimated Baseline Federal Funding With IIJA increases ($ in Millions)

PROGRAM 2022            2023      2024      2025      2026        5 -YEAR TOTAL       2000

FHWA          $267.40   $272.40   $277.40   $282.60   $287.90     $1,387.70

FTA           $27.50    $28.10    $28.80    $29.40    $30.20      $144.10


TOTAL         $294.9    $300.5    $306.2    $312.0    $318.1      $1,531.8               0

CINCINNATI USA REGIONAL CHAMBER                                                                                    9
A Region Connected Project Prioritization Strategic Funding Plan
           Without IIJA                  With IIJA








                  2022                2023           2024             2025               2026

     The era of competitive transportation grant      In addition to maintaining and expanding
     programs began with the creation of the          the existing discretionary grant program,
     Transportation Investment Generating             the IIJA also creates over a dozen new
     Economic Recovery (TIGER) Program in the         discretionary programs that provide
     American Recovery and Reinvestment Act           opportunities for a wider range of
     of 2009. Between 2009 and 2021, the USDOT        transportation projects to pursue funding.
     awarded approximately $16.5 billion in grant
                                                      The following tables provide a summary of
     funding primarily through the RAISE/BUILD/
                                                      the notable discretionary grant opportunities
     TIGER program, INFRA/FASTLANE program,
                                                      available from the FHWA, FRA, FTA, FAA, and
     and Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and
                                                      the Office of the Secretary of Transportation.
     Safety Improvement program (CRISI).

     By comparison, the total discretionary
     funding available as a result of the IIJA for
     transportation projects in urban areas like
     Cincinnati is over $65 billion from FY 2022
     to FY 2026.

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Table 3: Federal Highway Administration Discretionary Grant Opportunities

PROGRAM                 5 -YEAR                DESCRIPTION/ELIGIBLE PROJECTS
                        FUNDING TOTAL

Bridge Investment       $12.5 billion          Funds available to support projects to improve bridge and culvert
Program                                        condition, safety, efficiency, and reliability. Eligible projects include
                                               the replacement, rehabilitation, preservation, or protection of one
                                               or more bridges on the National Bridge Inventory.

Congestion Relief       $250 million           Program to advance innovative, integrated, and multimodal
Program                                        solutions to reduce congestion and the related economic and
                                               environmental costs in the most congested metropolitan areas
                                               with an urbanized area population of at least 1 million.

Healthy Streets         $500 million*          Provides funding to deploy cool and porous pavements and
Program                                        expand tree cover to mitigate urban heat islands, improve air
                                               quality, and reduce flood risks.

Grants for Charging     $2.5 billion           Two programs (Community Charging and Corridor Charging) that
and Fueling                                    fund the deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure
Infrastructure                                 and alternative fuel locations in publicly accessible locations.

Active                  $1 billion*            Provides competitive connectivity grants that strategically invest in
Transportation                                 projects that connect active transportation networks, accelerating
Infrastructure                                 local and regional plans to create safe and convenient routes to
Investment Program                             everyday destinations.

                In December 2022, the Brent Spence Bridge was awarded $1.6 billion in IIJA grant
                funding, including $1.3 billion from the Bridge Investment Program.

Table 4: Federal Railroad Authority Discretionary Grant Opportunities

PROGRAM                        5-YEAR                                   DESCRIPTION/ ELIGIBLE PROJECTS
                               FUNDING TOTAL

Federal-State Partnership      $36 billion in advance appropriations Provides funds for capital projects that
for Intercity Passenger Rail   with $12 billion available for projects reduce the state of good repair backlog,
                               outside the Northeast Corridor.         improve performance, or expand or
                                                                       establish new intercity rail service.

Railroad Crossing              $3 billion in advance appropriations     Program to mitigate or eliminate hazards
Elimination Program            with an additional $2.5 billion          at railway crossings.
                               potentially available through
                               future appropriations.

Consolidated Rail              $5 billion in advance appropriations     Funds projects that improve the safety,
Infrastructure and Safety      with potential for additional.           efficiency, and reliability of intercity
Improvements (CRISI)                                                    passenger and freight rail.
                               $5 billion through annual

* indicates funding levels authorized by the IIJA but not appropriated.
NOTE: Programs in Bold type are new programs created by the IIJA.

CINCINNATI USA REGIONAL CHAMBER                                                                                            11
Table 5: Federal Transit Administration Discretionary Grant Opportunities

      PROGRAM                 5-YEAR                       DESCRIPTION/ ELIGIBLE PROJECTS
                              FUNDING TOTAL
     All Station              $1.75 billion                Funds projects to upgrade the accessibility of legacy rail
     Accessibility                                         fixed guideway public transportation systems for people with
     Program                                               disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs.

     Bus and Bus              $3.161 billion               Funds projects to replace, rehabilitate, purchase, or lease
     Facilities                                            buses and bus-related equipment and to rehabilitate,
                                                           purchase, construct, or lease bus-related facilities.

     Capital Investment       $8 billion in advance        Supports new and expanded high-capacity rail and bus
     Grant Program            appropriations and an        service. The program includes New Starts for the construction
                              additional $15 billion       of new systems and expansion of existing systems, Small
                              potentially available        Starts for projects with capital costs less than $400 million,
                              through future               and Core Capacity for projects that upgrade existing corridors
                              appropriations               to handle increased demand.

     * indicates funding levels authorized by the IIJA but not appropriated.
     NOTE: Programs in Bold type are new programs created by the IIJA.

     Table 6: Federal Aviation Administration Discretionary Grant Opportunities

      PROGRAM                  5-YEAR                  DESCRIPTION/ ELIGIBLE PROJECTS
                               FUNDING TOTAL
     Airport Infrastructure    $15 billion             Funding may be used for airport-related projects defined under
     Grants                                            the existing Airport Improvement Grant and Passenger Facility
                                                       Charge criteria.

     Airport Terminal          $5 billion              Competitive grants for airport terminal development projects that
     Program                                           address the aging infrastructure of the nation’s airports.

     Facilities and            $5 billion              Funding to replace Air Traffic facilities, update and upgrade
     Equipment                                         equipment including landing and navigational aids, and improve
                                                       safety, security, and environmental standards at facilities.

     * indicates funding levels authorized by the IIJA but not appropriated.
     NOTE: Programs in Bold type are new programs created by the IIJA.

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Table 7: Office of the Secretary of Transportation Discretionary Grant Opportunities

 PROGRAM                             5-YEAR                     DESCRIPTION/ELIGIBLE PROJECTS
                                     FUNDING TOTAL
Nationally Significant         $8 billion in advance            The INFRA program awards grants for multimodal
Multimodal Freight and Highway appropriations with up           freight and highway projects of national or regional
Projects Program (INFRA)       to $14 billion available         significance to improve the safety, efficiency, and
                               through future                   reliability of the movement of freight and people in
                               appropriations                   and across rural and urban areas.

Rebuilding American                  $7.5 billion in advance    Provides supplemental funding for grants to
Infrastructure with Sustainability   appropriations with the    states and local entities for projects that will have
and Equity (RAISE)                   potential for up to $7.5   a significant local/regional impact.

National Infrastructure Project      $5 billion in advance      Supports large, complex projects that are difficult to
Assistance (MEGA)                    appropriations with the    fund by other means and likely to generate national
                                     potential for up to $10    or regional economic, mobility, or safety benefits.
                                     billion more in annual

Promoting Resilient Operations       $1.4 billion               Supports planning, resilience improvements,
for Transformative, Efficient,                                  community resilience and evacuation routes, and
and Cost-Saving Transportation                                  at-risk coastal infrastructure.

Reconnecting Communities             $1 billion                 Restores community connectivity by removing,
Pilot Program                                                   retrofitting, or mitigating highways or other
                                                                transportation facilities that create barriers to
                                                                community connectivity, including to mobility,
                                                                access, or economic development.

Safe Streets and Roads               $5 billion                 Provides supplemental funding to support local
for All Program                                                 initiatives to prevent death and serious injury on roads
                                                                and streets, commonly referred to as “Vision Zero” or
                                                                “Toward Zero Deaths” initiatives.

National Culvert Removal,            $1 billion                 Provides supplemental funding for grants to replace,
Replacement, and Restoration                                    remove, and or repair culverts or weirs.
Grant Program

Strengthening Mobility and           $500 million               Provides supplemental funding to conduct
Revolutionizing Transportation                                  demonstration projects focused on advanced smart
(SMART) Program                                                 city or community technologies and systems in a
                                                                variety of communities to improve transportation
                                                                efficiency and safety.

* indicates funding levels authorized by the IIJA but not appropriated.
NOTE: Programs in Bold type are new programs created by the IIJA.

                The City of Cincinnati received a $127 million INFRA grant in 2022 for the Western Hills
                Viaduct replacement project

CINCINNATI USA REGIONAL CHAMBER                                                                                            13
Inflation Reduction Act
                                                           APPLICABLE USDOT
     President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction
                                                           STRATEGIC GOALS
     Act (IRA) into law on August 16, 2022, making
     a $369 billion investment in sustainable              Safety – investing in improvements to
     infrastructure. Although most of the funds            make the transportation system safer for
     available through the IRA are focused on              all people.
     sustainable energy development, distribution,         Economic Strength & Global
     and storage, there are several new programs that      Competitiveness – growing an inclusive
     support transportation infrastructure through         and sustainable economy. Investing in
     programs administered by the Environmental            the transportation system to provide
     Protection Agency as well as USDOT.                   American workers and businesses reliable
     Because the agencies are still determining            and efficient access to good paying jobs,
     implementation, the programs authorized by the        resources, and markets.
     IRA are not included in this analysis but could
     provide additional opportunities for discretionary    Historically Disadvantaged Communities
     funding once the programs are up and running.         & Areas of Persistent Poverty: Reduce
                                                           inequities. Support and engage people and
                                                           communities to promote safe, affordable,
                                                           accessible, and multimodal access to
     GRANT APPLICATIONS?                                   opportunities and services while reducing
     The following section provides a framework            transportation-related disparities, adverse
     for obtaining information and developing key          community impacts and health effects.
     messages that will help advance competitive
     applications. More information about developing       Climate & Sustainability: Tackle the climate
     competitive grant applications is detailed in the     crisis by ensuring that transportation plays
     Task 1 report. Some federal discretionary funding     a central role in the solution. Substantially
     programs have expansive eligibilities that could      reduce greenhouse gas emissions and
     support a broad range of capital investment           transportation-related pollution and
     projects, while others are targeted to a very         build more resilient and sustainable
     specific functional category or strategic priority.   transportation systems to benefit and
     In either case, applicants may be able to improve     protect communities.
     their chances of securing federal funding by          Transformation & Innovation: Design for
     developing a clear understanding of what              the future. Invest in purpose-driven research
     sets apart a given project or project element,        and innovation to meet the challenges of
     whether it is serving a critical population, and/     the present and modernize a transportation
     or addressing a clear deficiency of the current       system of the future that serves everyone
     transportation network.                               today and in the decades to come.
     Regardless of which discretionary program
     agencies identify as target opportunities, there      Understanding these strategic goals and
     are consistent policy objectives targeted by the      how projects align with these outcomes
     language in the IIJA, as well as the Department       will help position projects to be competitive
     of Transportation Strategic Goals.                    in these extremely popular and frequently
                                                           oversubscribed programs.

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Following the analysis of baseline changes to transportation funding, stakeholders
were asked to submit projects that serve a regional vision and could benefit from
the pursuit of competitive grant funding available from IIJA competitive grant
programs. The group then held discussions to identify six representative projects that
are consistent with the Chamber’s vision for a Connected Region. Strategic funding
recommendations for these projects are presented in this section.

It’s important to put these projects into context – in part because there are
absolutely projects that are important priorities to the region that are not included
in this report. For example, the Brent Spence Bridge, Western Hills Viaduct, and
much of the implementation of Reinventing Metro are projects that align with the
Chamber’s Connected Region vision, have already received grants thanks to the IIJA,
and should certainly remain priorities for the region. But they aren’t projects that
require additional capacity or strategic guidance to seek those funds, and thus aren’t
included in the projects below. There are other project concepts that need to be
fleshed out before they’re prepared to seek federal planning or construction grants.
For example, the question about where the City might take the streetcar next or
the potential for fixed guideway transit to CVG or other parts of the region aren’t
specific enough to likely be prepared for federal funding during the five-year IIJA
funding window.

CINCINNATI USA REGIONAL CHAMBER                                                          15

     05                                                                                                                               01




                        01. Central Parkway Beautification          04. I-71/75 and I-275 interchange Improvements

                        02. Completing the CROWN Urban Trail Loop   05. Millikin Way Interchange

                        03. Fort Washington Way Lids                06. Regional EV Charging Strategy - not shown on map

                                                                                                                                     Imagery source: Esri, Maxar, & Earthstar Geographics

16                                          CINCINNATI USA REGIONAL CHAMBER                        CINCINNATI USA REGIONAL CHAMBER                                                          17
UNDERSTANDING THE                                  As you’ll see in the recommendations and
                                                        as mentioned above, there are overlapping
                                                        eligibilities across the various discretionary
     The strategic funding recommendations in this      programs. These broad eligibilities that
     report are based on the current understanding      encompass multiple project types can
     of the projects and may change as they evolve      create challenges and opportunities when
     through various stages of project development.     considering how to prioritize projects that
     For each project, there are three main sections:   may compete for the same pots of funding.
                                                        The simplest way to approach the various
       1. Project Background provides an overview       applicable funding sources is to consider:
          of the project.
                                                          y Local match – although most programs
       2. Potential IIJA Programs lists the                 require a minimum 20 percent match
          discretionary grant programs authorized           from nonfederal sources, some programs
         by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs          require up to 50 percent and all programs
         Act with funding eligibilities that match          view favorably projects that provide more
         the project description.                           than the minimum required.
       3. Strategy to Position for Grant Funds            y Project readiness – is the project at a
          summarizes some specific actions that             stage where it can effectively compete
          could help applicants prepare for a               for construction funds.
          competitive grant application.
                                                          y Alignment with DOT policy priorities
     Although the project types are diverse, the            – although a project may be eligible
     same programs may apply to multiple projects           to receive funds under a program, the
     due to the flexible nature of many of the              most competitive grant applications also
     funding programs. The recommendations                  align well with the Department’s policy
     in this report include best practices that             priorities. Each of the projects has a table
     applicants should follow when preparing                with an indicator of which of the USDOT
     to apply for federal discretionary grants,             strategic goals that the project most
     regardless of project type. It also includes           closely aligns. These are self-reported
     project-specific steps that can better position        and subjective – but, we think a fair
     the projects for receiving funds. The intent           representation of how the Department
     of these recommendations is to provide a               may view the projects.
     roadmap for the projects identified,
     as well as those organizations or individuals
     who may be tasked with guiding or driving
     those projects, in pursuit of federal
     discretionary grants. We hope that these
     recommendations serve as guides for other
     communities as they consider projects.

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   Project Sponsor                                                             Complete Streets Defined:
   City of Cincinnati                                                          A Complete Street is safe, and feels safe,
                                                                               for all users. Complete Street standards
   Estimated Project Cost                                                      or policies “ensure the safe and adequate
   $20 million
                                                                               accommodation of all users of the
                                                                               transportation system, including pedestrian,
                                                                               bicyclists, public transportation users,
   ALIGNMENT WITH USDOT                                                        children, older individuals, individuals with
   STRATEGIC GOALS                                                             disabilities, motorists, and freight vehicles.” 2

            Improve Safety

                                                                           PROJECT BACKGROUND
            Inclusive & Sustainable
            Economy                                                        Cincinnati’s Central Parkway was once a
                                                                           waterway, serving as the Miami-Erie Canal in
           Reduce Inequities & Promote                                     the 19th Century, moving people and goods by
           Multimodal Access
                                                                           boat and ship. In the intervening years, the canal
                                                                           was filled and the movement of people and
            Climate Action
                                                                           goods transitioned to cars and trucks. Recently,
                                                                           support has grown for a reimagining of the
            Innovation                                                     Parkway, converting it into a Complete Street
                                                                           with vehicular and bus traffic lanes, larger and

2. See Section 11206 of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act: https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/3684?r=1&s=5

CINCINNATI USA REGIONAL CHAMBER                                                                                                            19
dedicated pedestrian sidewalks, a greenspace         Although the recommendations provided below
     median, and a dedicated bicycle track. The           are tailored for the Central Parkway project, many
     proposed project would greatly improve safety        of the same concepts would apply to Complete
     for bicyclists and pedestrians as the current        Streets projects, generally.
     configuration requires sharing the roadway
                                                          Additional information on Complete
     with vehicular traffic and its width makes
                                                          Streets is available on the Federal Highway
     crossing the street especially unsafe. As a major
                                                          Administration’s Complete Streets page.
     thoroughfare, Central Parkway is a key artery for
     Cincinnati’s bus transit system with several stops
                                                          Rebuilding American Infrastructure
     along this route currently and is expected to
                                                          with Sustainability and Equity
     remain so at the completion of the project.
                                                          The RAISE program invests in road, rail, transit,
     The project area stretches from Charles              and port projects that promise to achieve
     Street to Findlay Street and is adjacent to two      national objectives. Historically, complete streets
     historic Cincinnati neighborhoods, the West          and pedestrian and bicycle projects have fared
     End and Over-the-Rhine, as well as some of           well under the program as they advance more
     Cincinnati’s most iconic and notable structures,     sustainable transportation options, removing
     including Cincinnati City Hall, Cincinnati Policy    single-occupancy vehicles from the road
     Headquarters, historic Cincinnati Music Hall, TQL    and subsequently supporting a reduction
     Stadium, and historic Findlay Market.                in greenhouse gas emissions. The eligibility
                                                          requirements of RAISE allow project sponsors
     While portions of Over-the-Rhine has seen
                                                          to obtain funding to multi-modal, multi-
     significant reinvestment over the last 15 years,
                                                          jurisdictional projects that are more difficult
     those investments have not crossed Central
                                                          to support through traditional DOT programs.
     Parkway into the West End neighborhood,
                                                          Importantly for the Central Parkway project,
     which has experienced disinvestment since
                                                          RAISE has planning funds available which can
     the construction of Interstate 75. The project
                                                          help to further develop the project and position it
     represents an opportunity to address needed
                                                          for capital construction grants in the future.
     transportation improvements as well as promote
     increased economic development in the area.          Notably, the recent RAISE award in the area may
                                                          make this project less compelling in the short
     POTENTIAL IIJA PROGRAMS                              term as the USDOT is required to maintain an
                                                          equitable geographic distribution of grant funds.
     The Central Parkway Project is a good example
                                                          Winning in one cycle can often lead to missing
     of a Complete Streets project to inform the
                                                          out on the next cycle.
     planning and funding opportunities for complete
     streets projects across the region. The funding
     programs described below support Complete
     Streets projects and are viable funding sources
     for other, similar projects.

20                                                                 CINCINNATI USA REGIONAL CHAMBER
Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A)                                     Healthy Streets Program
 Grant Program                                                             The Healthy Streets Program is authorized at
 The SS4A program funds regional, local, and                               $100 million per year but does not currently
 Tribal initiatives to prevent roadway deaths                              have appropriations to make grant awards.
 and serious injuries. Of note for the Central                             Should Congress fund the program in future
 Parkway project, SS4A has specific eligibility                            budget cycles, the program could fund
 for “transforming a roadway corridor on a                                 elements of the Central Parkway project. The
 High-Injury Network into a Complete Street                                program is focused on deploying cool and/
 with safety improvements to control speed,                                or porous pavements and expanding tree
 separate users, and improve visibility, along                             cover to help mitigate the effects of urban
 with other measures that improve safety                                   heat islands, improve air quality, and reduce
 for all users.” Notably, the condition that the                           impervious surfaces, stormwater runoff,
 Complete Street transformation occurs on a                                and flood risks, as well as heat impacts to
 “High-Injury Network” requires that Central                               infrastructure and road users.
 Parkway has a higher rate of injuries or
 fatalities on the roadway compared to                                     Neighborhood Access and Equity
 others in the region.                                                     Grant Program
                                                                           This new program authorized by the
 SS4A has $5 billion over five years and has
                                                                           Inflation Reduction Act provides funding to
 already closed the first round of applications
                                                                           improve walkability, safety, and affordable
 under the program. Importantly, the region
                                                                           transportation access. There is little known
 must have an approved comprehensive safety
                                                                           about the project beyond what is in the
 action plan (Action Plan) in place. Without
                                                                           legislation, but it appears to be similar to the
 an Action Plan, a planning or Action Plan
                                                                           RCP and SS4A programs and would likely
 grant would be necessary to support the
                                                                           support the Central Parkway project.3 The
 plan development and then position for a
                                                                           program is appropriated with $3.15 billion with
 subsequent implementation grant.
                                                                           funding likely opening in 2023.

  3. See Section 60501 of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (H.R. 5376): https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/5376

CINCINNATI USA REGIONAL CHAMBER                                                                                                           21
STRATEGY FOR POSITIONING                              Funding commitments may not be available
                                                           until a total cost for the project is available and
                                                           that may not be ready until the project is further
     As mentioned previously, the strategies               defined – another reason to potentially pursue
     described below apply to the Central Parkway          federal planning grants for the project.
     project but can also be applied to similar projects
     in the area. With both the City and OKI having        Conduct Modeling and Forecasting
     complete streets policies in place, the region
                                                           Effectively capturing the benefits and the
     is well-positioned to be competitive under the
                                                           costs of the project are vital components to a
     available programs and those that are advanced
                                                           successful grant application. Starting work now
     could benefit from some or all of the strategies
                                                           on evaluating the safety benefits, the economic
     described below.
                                                           growth potential (particularly if supported by
                                                           investment commitments), as well as potential
     Pursue Planning Funds to Advance the
                                                           environmental benefits such as greenhouse
     Project Definition
                                                           gas reductions, will help to prepare the project
     The Central Parkway project has undergone             for a competitive application when it is ready to
     considerable work to get to where it is today. But    pursue capital construction grants.
     to successfully pursue federal construction grant
     dollars, the project definition must be refined,      Identify Discrete Project Elements
     and project elements fully fleshed out. One
                                                           Prior to applying for discretionary funds, it may
     strategy to move project development forward is
                                                           be helpful to identify discrete project elements
     to pursue planning grant funds under either the
                                                           that can advance independent of others. This
     RCP Program or RAISE. Because both programs
                                                           will help to break up the project, making it
     have planning grants and eligibilities that align
                                                           possible to fund pieces of the overall project
     with the Central Parkway project, either or both
                                                           vision through smaller grants, if necessary. Also,
     could be good candidates to support project
                                                           including project line items that USDOT can fund
     development work.
                                                           may help the project if the full amount requested
                                                           is more than the Department is willing to award.
     Develop Complete Funding Plan and
     Secure Funding Commitments
     Although both public and private interests
     support the project and have indicated a
     willingness to provide financial assistance to it,
     including the City of Cincinnati’s commitment
     of $1 million towards the project, those funding
     commitments from all parties need to be
     solidified. Doing so will provide USDOT with a
     reasonable assurance that the local match is
     available and that the federal funds will leverage
     other sources to deliver the project. This is an
     important piece of project readiness.

22                                                                  CINCINNATI USA REGIONAL CHAMBER
 Likely Project Sponsor(s)           ALIGNMENT WITH USDOT
 City of Cincinnati                  STRATEGIC GOALS
 Great Parks of Hamilton County
                                        Improve Safety
 Critical Partners
 Tri-State Trails                       Inclusive & Sustainable
 Wasson Way                             Economy
 Ohio River Way
 Cincinnati Parks                       Reduce Inequities & Promote
                                        Multimodal Access
 Ohio River Trail West
                                        Climate Action
 Mill Creek Alliance
 Murray Path
 Estimated Project Cost
 $13 million (Mill Creek Greenway)
 $12 million (Ohio River Trail)

CINCINNATI USA REGIONAL CHAMBER                                       23
PROJECT BACKGROUND                                 Costs to complete the Mill Creek Greenway
                                                        Trail are estimated at roughly $13 million,
     CROWN, the Cincinnati Riding Or Walking            while costs to complete the Ohio River Trail
     Network, is a proposed 34-mile urban trail loop    sections are estimated at $12 million. This $25
     around Cincinnati. When complete, CROWN            million total represents the full cost to design,
     will connect four major trails — Wasson Way,       obtain necessary rights-of-way, and ultimately
     Little Miami Scenic Trail, Ohio River Trail, and   construct the facility. Federal infrastructure
     Mill Creek Greenway — to form a network used       funds would make a transformational impact
     for transportation, recreation, and exercise.      in the region’s ability to deliver this project on a
     Key remaining gaps in the trail network include    rapid timeline. Federal costs could cover up to
     roughly 3.5 miles of the Mill Creek Greenway       80 percent of the remaining costs, depending
     Trail from Millvale to Lower Price Hill and 2.2    on available local match.
     miles of the Ohio River Trail West from Lower
     Price Hill to Smale Riverfront Park.               Completing the CROWN would promote
                                                        equitable access to active transportation,
     Phase 1 of the CROWN created connections           employment centers, recreation opportunities,
     between several existing trails. In total,         and economic development opportunities
     18.4 miles of the total 34-mile urban loop         in the lower Mill Creek Valley communities
     have been completed and are currently              that have lacked this type of proactive public
     open to the public. An additional 3.4 miles,       investment for over 60 years. Because of these
     predominantly on the east side of the loop,        projected benefits, the CROWN project could
     have secured funding through the CROWN             be competitive for a number of discretionary
     capital campaign.                                  funding programs.

24                                                               CINCINNATI USA REGIONAL CHAMBER
POTENTIAL IIJA PROGRAMS                                                The flexibility in how those match
                                                                          funds are generated, allowing for non-
   The programs listed below include eligibility
                                                                          traditional sources to make up the
   for bicycle and pedestrian projects like the
                                                                          cost-share requirement for instance,
   CROWN project. This list is not exhaustive
                                                                          may help to ameliorate the 50 percent
   and only captures the discretionary programs
                                                                          match requirement.
   authorized by the IIJA. For a more complete
   listing of possible funding sources for
                                                                          Rebuilding American Infrastructure
   pedestrian and bicycle projects, see the
                                                                          with Sustainability and Equity
   summary table of funding opportunities
                                                                          The RAISE program invests in road, rail, transit,
   published by the Federal Highway
                                                                          and port projects that promise to achieve
   Administration here.
                                                                          national objectives. Historically, Complete
   Reconnecting Communities Pilot                                         Streets and pedestrian and bicycle projects
   (RCP) Grant Program                                                    have fared well under the program as they
                                                                          advance more sustainable transportation
   The purpose of the RCP Program is to
                                                                          options, removing single-occupancy vehicles
   reconnect communities by removing,
                                                                          from the road and subsequently supporting
   retrofitting, or mitigating transportation
                                                                          a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The
   facilities, like highways or rail lines, that
                                                                          eligibility requirements of RAISE allow project
   create barriers to community connectivity,
                                                                          sponsors to obtain funding to multi-modal,
   including to mobility, access, or economic
                                                                          multi-jurisdictional projects that are more
   development.4 The program includes both
                                                                          difficult to support through traditional
   planning and capital grants, allowing for
                                                                          DOT programs.
   federal support at multiple stages of a
   project’s life cycle.                                                  The RAISE program is well-established with
                                                                          significant available funds on an annual
   The program is funded with $1 billion over
                                                                          basis and has broad eligibility for active
   the next five years providing a reliable source
                                                                          transportation improvements. Non-State-DOT
   of federal funds and the CROWN is a good
                                                                          applicants make up more than three-quarters
   example of community connectivity and
                                                                          of awarded funds. However, the recent RAISE
   potentially retrofitting or improving existing
                                                                          award in the area may make this project less
   transportation facilities to enhance that
                                                                          compelling in the short term as the USDOT is
   connectivity. This aligns well with the stated
                                                                          required to maintain an equitable geographic
   purpose of the program. However, if pursuing
                                                                          distribution of grant funds. Winning in one
   a capital grant, the program requires a 50
                                                                          cycle can often lead to missing out on the
   percent match making the cost sharing
                                                                          next cycle.
   burden higher than other programs.

4. See Reconnecting Communities Pilot (RCP Grant Program Fact Sheet: https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/2022-07/

CINCINNATI USA REGIONAL CHAMBER                                                                                                     25
Safe Streets and Roads for All                      Active Transportation Infrastructure
     (SS4A) Grant Program                                Investment Program.
     The SS4A program funds regional, local, and         This program was authorized by the IIJA but is
     Tribal initiatives to prevent roadway deaths        subject to annual appropriations by Congress
     and serious injuries. In addition to supporting     and has not yet seen funding through the yearly
     roadway improvements, the SS4A program              budget process. However, should Congress
     also includes “installing pedestrian safety         appropriate funds for the program, the CROWN
     enhancements and closing network gaps               project would align quite well with the goals of
     (emphasis added)” as an eligible project            the program – to fund safe, connective active
     along with “supporting the development of           transportation networks such as trails, sidewalks,
     bikeway networks.” These project eligibilities      and protected bike lanes.
     that support a shift in mode choice from a
     motorized vehicle to active transportation
                                                         STRATEGY FOR POSITIONING
     supports the reduction in roadway deaths
                                                         FOR GRANT FUNDS
     and injuries – consistent with the objectives
     of the CROWN project.                               The strategy elements listed below are
                                                         specific to the CROWN project but can also
     SS4A has $5 billion over five years and has         serve as a general guide for other bicycle and
     already closed the first round of applications      pedestrian projects in the region that may
     under the program. Importantly, the region          seek federal grants.
     must have an approved comprehensive safety
     action plan (Action Plan) in place. Without         Define and position the project as
     an Action Plan, a planning or Action Plan           “Completing the CROWN.”
     grant would be necessary to support the
                                                         This is important for narrative reasons as it
     plan development and then position for a
                                                         helps to explain the scale of the improvements
     subsequent implementation grant.
                                                         and how it builds on previous investment. As
                                                         currently defined, the project includes three
     Neighborhood Access and
                                                         sections of improvements to the Ohio River
     Equity Grant Program
                                                         Trail West as well as two sections of the Mill
     This new program authorized by the                  Creek Greenway. A potential strategy for
     Inflation Reduction Act provides funding to         federal grant positioning would be to expand
     improve walkability, safety, and affordable         the scope to include segments that currently
     transportation access. There is little known        have Capital Campaign funding associated
     about the project beyond what is in the             with them – this would allow for the potential to
     legislative text, but it appears to be similar to   use existing committed funds for local match,
     the RCP and SS4A programs and would likely          and also define a larger overall project in case
     support the CROWN project. The program is           that proves to be better aligned with a given
     appropriated with $3.15 billion with funding        grant program’s funding potential and/or
     likely opening in 2023.                             evaluation requirements.

26                                                                CINCINNATI USA REGIONAL CHAMBER
Address the critical issue of ROW.                    To the extent information exists regarding
                                                      number and frequency of trips and the
USDOT grant reviewers consider a project’s
                                                      connections the CROWN provides, those data
readiness when making grant recommendations
                                                      points should be emphasized as well.
for awards. A key component of project readiness
is a reasonable expectation to secure permits and
                                                      Clearly define individual
acquire necessary right-of-way (ROW) to deliver
                                                      project elements
the project. Because the alignment will traverse
existing railroad tracks, working to establish        Despite historic funding levels, the discretionary
evidence of a clear path forward and alignment        funding programs at the USDOT continue to
with the owner/operator regarding the right-          be oversubscribed with many billions of dollars
of-way needed is important to communicate             more requested than available for grant awards.
readiness to the reviewers. The risk of cost and/or   As a result, clearly defining how each section
schedule overruns associated with this challenge      would deliver benefits and the approximate cost
could be a detriment to readiness-criteria scoring    to deliver each section could allow decision-
for most applications.                                makers to make an award that is less than the
                                                      requested amount and still provide substantial
Elevate partnerships and capture                      benefits to the project.
community benefits.
The CROWN is a shining example of building
a coalition to deliver on a promise to connect
the community. These partnerships show
community support and the importance
of the project to future users.

CINCINNATI USA REGIONAL CHAMBER                                                                            27
     Project Sponsor
                                          PROJECT BACKGROUND
     City of Cincinnati/Hamilton County   Fort Washington Way (FWW) is a sunken
                                          highway that runs through downtown
     Estimated Project Cost               Cincinnati, carrying traffic across Interstate 71
     $110 million                         (I-71), U.S. 50, and providing access to downtown
                                          and the riverfront from Interstate 75 (I-75)
                                          and I-71. In the early 2000s when FWW was
                                          constructed, the City invested in additional
                                          structural pilings to allow for a future cap over
                                          the highway. The City and Hamilton County, in
                                          partnership with the Cincinnati USA Regional
            Improve Safety
                                          Chamber, have taken important steps recently
                                          to advance the construction of a cap or lid over
           Inclusive & Sustainable
                                          FWW in creating a vital public space.
                                          The cap concept has been done elsewhere in
           Reduce Inequities & Promote
           Multimodal Access              Ohio, most notably the Columbus Cap of High
                                          Street Over I-670, which created a mixed-use
            Climate Action                plaza with pedestrian accessibility, restaurants
                                          and retail at Short North.


28                                                 CINCINNATI USA REGIONAL CHAMBER
The City, County, and Chamber are committed to                       RCP capital construction grants fund the
working together to address the many complex                         implementation of projects that remove, retrofit,
issues associated with the project, including                        mitigate, or replace an existing eligible facility
engagement with the Ohio Department of                               with a new facility that reconnects communities.
Transportation (ODOT) related to the air rights                      $50 million was available in Fiscal Year 2022 and
over FWW; engagement with the region’s park                          we expect similar amounts will be available in
systems over how to develop and maintain                             future years.
public green space; and how to coordinate the
construction of the FWW Lids alongside the
Brent Spence Bridge project.                                             Eligible Facility Under RCP
                                                                         Program Defined:
The City submitted a planning grant application
for the Reconnecting Communities grant, which                            A highway, including a road, street, or
would support the planning phase of this project                         parkway or other transportation facility,
to prepare it for federal construction funds.                            such as a rail line, that creates a barrier
                                                                         to community connectivity, including
                                                                         barriers to mobility, access, or economic
POTENTIAL IIJA PROGRAMS                                                  development, due to high speeds, grade
The FWW Lids project which promotes                                      separations, or other design factors.
neighborhood connectivity, environmental
benefits through the creation of greenspace, as
                                                                     Rebuilding American Infrastructure
well as equity and economic competitiveness,
                                                                     with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE)
aligns with the objectives of several programs
authorized under the IIJA.                                           The RAISE program invests in road, rail, transit,
                                                                     and port projects that promise to achieve
Reconnecting Communities                                             national objectives. The program allows
Pilot (RCP) Program                                                  project sponsors to obtain funding to multi-
The RCP Program provides both planning and                           modal, multi-jurisdictional projects that are
capital construction grants to support the                           more difficult to support through traditional
removal, retrofit, or mitigation of transportation                   department of transportation (DOT) programs.
facilities that create barriers to community                         Importantly for the FWW Lids project, the
connectivity. The FWW Lids project aligns well                       RAISE program also provides both planning
with the RCP Program as the lids would provide                       and capital improvement grants, allowing for
important connectivity to the neighborhood,                          projects that are still early in development to
mitigating the effects of the highway that bisects                   receive federal assistance to help further
the Central Business District.                                       define the project elements.

RCP Planning grants may be used to study the
feasibility and impacts of removing, retrofitting,
or mitigating an existing eligible facility or to
conduct planning activities necessary to design
a project to remove, retrofit, or mitigate an
existing eligible facility.5

5. See USDOT Reconnecting Communities: https://www.transportation.gov/grants/reconnecting-communities

CINCINNATI USA REGIONAL CHAMBER                                                                                           29
The RAISE program is authorized for up to                                 The Mega program also may be used
        $15 billion over the five-year term of the IIJA,                          for development-phase costs, including
        making it a reliable source of funding for                                planning, feasibility analysis, alternatives
        years to come. However, the recent RAISE                                  analysis, environmental review and activities
        award for the State-to-Central Project may                                to support environmental review, preliminary
        make this project less compelling in the short                            engineering, and other preconstruction
        term as the USDOT is required to maintain                                 activities.
        an equitable geographic distribution of grant
                                                                                  Importantly, the Mega program is focused
        funds. Winning in one cycle can often lead to
                                                                                  on projects that cost more than $100 million,
        missing out on the next cycle. With that said,
                                                                                  and with an estimated cost of $110 million to
        the FY2023 RAISE NOFO is now on the street,
                                                                                  complete the FWW Lids, the project meets
        with applications due February 28, 2023.
                                                                                  the cost threshold for the program. Although
        Mega Grant Program                                                        focused on projects with large price tags,
                                                                                  the Mega program will only fund 60 percent
        The Mega Program (also known as the
                                                                                  of the total project costs, making the local
        National Infrastructure Project Assistance
                                                                                  match requirement considerable.
        program) supports large, complex projects
        that are difficult to fund by other means and                             Neighborhood Access and
        are likely to generate national or regional                               Equity Grant Program
        economic, mobility, or safety benefits.6 Eligible
                                                                                  This new program authorized by the
        projects include a “highway or bridge project
                                                                                  Inflation Reduction Act provides funding to
        carried out on the National Multimodal
                                                                                  improve walkability, safety, and affordable
        Freight Network, the National Highway
                                                                                  transportation access. There is little known
        Freight Network, or the National Highway
                                                                                  about the project beyond what is in the
        System.” Although the lids are not a traditional
                                                                                  legislative text, but it appears to be similar
        “bridge” project, the City could argue that the
                                                                                  to the RCP and Safe Streets and Roads for
        connections created by the cap does bridge
                                                                                  All (SS4A) programs and would likely
        the span over Fort Washington Way and thus
                                                                                  support the FWW project.7 The program
        is eligible for the program.
                                                                                  is appropriated with $3.15 billion with
                                                                                  funding likely opening in 2023.

     6. See USDOT Mega Grant Program: https://www.transportation.gov/grants/mega-grant-program
     7. See Section 60501 of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (H.R. 5376): https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/5376

30                                                                                            CINCINNATI USA REGIONAL CHAMBER
STRATEGY TO POSITION                                Leverage Planning Funds to Enter
FOR GRANT FUNDS                                     Federal Funding Pipeline
The City and County have applied to USDOT           A secondary but important benefit to pursuing
for planning funds under the RCP Program. If        and securing federal planning dollars is that it
successful, those planning funds can help further   opens a dialogue with USDOT on the project
define the project and identify potential future    where DOT officials can provide feedback on its
funding opportunities. In addition to the RCP       merits and help inform how the project advances
planning funds, other strategies include:           in a way that makes it competitive for capital
                                                    construction grants in the future. Also, once
Build Community Consensus                           planning dollars are committed, federal officials
on the Project                                      may consider the agency “invested” in the
                                                    project and want to see it through to completion,
One of the important factors considered as
                                                    further enhancing its competitiveness
part of the discretionary funding evaluation is
whether there is broad community support
for the project. Although there already exists
a diverse set of stakeholders supporting
the project, further defining the vision and
seeking and securing letters of support from
stakeholders would be another important step.

Prepare and Complete an
Environmental Review
Project readiness is an evaluation factor for
all discretionary programs. Prior to signing
the funding agreement, USDOT must have
completed the environmental review under
the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA),
which can take time. It is best to get started
on that work early so that it doesn’t hinder
the project’s competitiveness through the
discretionary programs.

CINCINNATI USA REGIONAL CHAMBER                                                                         31
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