Mayor Menino Announces $15.5 Million Federal Grant to Connect Historic Boston

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By William Tauro

Boston one of 52 selected from 585 applicants

TIGER grant will be used to design pedestrian and bicycle connections between public transit and City’s historic sites

Mayor Thomas M. Menino today announced the City of Boston has been selected as a recipient of a $15.5 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER discretionary grant, to fund alternative transportation projects under the “Connect Historic Boston” initiative. The Mayor was joined at the announcement by U.S. Department of Transportation Under Secretary Polly Trottenberg, Congressman Michael Capuano, Cassius Cash of National Park Service, Historic Boston’s Kathy Kottaridis and community leaders from the North End, West End and Charlestown.

“Connect Historic Boston” will create safe, attractive, and easy-to-navigate pedestrian and bicycle connections between two of Boston’s most prominent assets: the public transit system and the City’s historic treasures. TIGER grant funding has the potential to generate a sea change in the use of alternative transportation modes by residents and visitors to experience Boston’s rich history. The projects will reinvigorate local businesses and generate a new slate of tourism-related jobs.

“Boston is a beautiful, historic city and we need to do everything we can to design our streets and sidewalks in a way that increases transit, walking and bicycle access to our historic treasures,” Mayor Menino said. “I want to thank the U.S. Department of Transportation for this grant that will dramatically improve Boston’s historic areas and serve as a tremendous model for other cities across the country.”

“These transformational TIGER projects are the best argument for investment in our transportation infrastructure,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Together, they support President Obama’s call to ensure a stronger transportation system for future generations by repairing existing infrastructure, connecting people to new jobs and opportunities, and contributing to our nation’s economic growth.”

Funding from the TIGER grant will be used for the reconstruction of a decades-old and inadequate system of paths and sidewalks that bring people to and from Boston’s historic sites. Designs are ready for four major projects:

· Connect Historic Boston Bike trail: Bicycles are welcome in Boston and the City is committed to providing safe and accessible streets for cyclists. A total of 90 Bicycle Wayfinding signs were installed last year at busy intersections in Boston to ensure that cyclists can easily find the safest and most direct routes to popular sites in the City. In 2012, the Hubway Bike Share program recorded more than 530,000 rides. Improvements to Causeway and Commercial streets will be implemented with separated bicycle lanes, space for group travel, bi-directional routes, and wayfinding to park sites. When complete, the trail will create a high-quality and family-friendly bicycle facility with connections to regional and local paths.

The Blackstone Block: The Blackstone Block, America’s most intact colonial street network, will be reinvigorated to feature a curbless, accessible, and shared street environment. By investing in the infrastructure at these blocks, the new pedestrian network will better link Haymarket Station to Faneuil Hall and the National Park Service Visitor Center, and improve viability around new development opportunities.
· Constitution Road: The primary entrance into the Charlestown Navy Yard, a National Park Service site, and home to new residential, commercial, and medical facilities, Constitution Road will be transformed into a welcoming, multimodal street, with sufficient space for pedestrians and bicycles at the front door of the Navy Yard. A wider sidewalk and two-way, sidewalk level, cycle track will create a new route for local residents, visitors walking to the park, and commuters originating from North Station and downtown Boston.

Joy Street: The African American National Historic Site and Black Heritage Trail are minutes away from busy transit stops and bicycle routes but are dominated by vehicular traffic. A prominent pedestrian entrance at Joy and Cambridge Streets to the African American National Historic Site, in addition to a curbless streetscape, will facilitate shared use and strengthen accessible routes into the neighborhood.

“This significant Department of Transportation grant will help strengthen Boston’s transportation infrastructure and improve access to historic sites,” Senator Elizabeth Warren said. “Boston’s rich history attracts millions of visitors from around the world every year, and these funds will support the local tourism industry and encourage economic growth. I applaud Mayor Menino for his leadership in securing this TIGER grant for the city.”

“Boston has some of our country’s most treasured historic sites, which attract tourists from around the world.” Representative Capuano said. “These federal funds will improve visitor access to our history by better connecting the sites to public transit through pedestrian and bike paths.”

Connect Historic Boston is an initiative between the National Park Service and the Boston Transportation Department to promote improved access for visitors and workers in the downtown historic area. Funded by the Federal Transit Administration, the initiative has an extensive advisory and inter-agency group with representatives from neighborhood councils, advocacy groups, non-profits, as well as Federal, State, and local government representatives. Over the last twelve months, this project team has developed engineering drawings for safety and navigational improvements, and worked with local businesses, neighborhood councils and the non-profits that manage the city’s historic sites and buildings to develop detailed designs and launch an outreach program.

Outreach programs supporting the project include an elementary school based-curriculum linking historic sites via the Silver Line, walks and rides, and a public arts competition.

Fifty-two transportation projects in 37 states will receive a total of approximately $474 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) 2013 discretionary grant program. The highly competitive TIGER program offers one of the only federal funding possibilities for large, multi-modal projects that often are not suitable for other federal funding sources. These federal funds leverage money from private sector partners, states, local governments, metropolitan planning organizations and transit agencies. The 2013 TIGER round alone supports $1.8 billion in overall project investments.

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