- The U.S. Department of Transportation and the city of Austin, Texas, have established an emerging projects agreement to deliver and finance more than $22 billion in innovative, mobility-focused infrastructure improvements, according to a Feb. 28 press release.
- The agreement will likely support efforts including Project Connect, a $7.1 billion partnership among the city and local transit agencies to expand and improve public transportation throughout Central Texas, and the $3.6 billion Corridor Construction program for “transformative safety and mobility improvements on several roadways,” including “Complete Communities infrastructure,” the press release said.
- “This partnership will help move projects forward to deliver benefits to the growing region, [with] the goal of reconnecting communities, using technology to reduce traffic and pedestrian fatalities, and retaining vulnerable local businesses and residents,” the press release said.
The Transportation Department has entered into emerging projects agreements with states, including California, to fast-track networks of related projects rather than using a piecemeal approach. This is its first with a city, “and others are soon to follow,” Build America Bureau Executive Director Morteza Farajian said in an email. “I believe the Austin [emerging projects agreement] will start a trend by taking a systems approach to delivering transformative transportation projects.”
The Build America Bureau, a one-stop shop the DOT created to streamline the development and financing of transportation infrastructure projects, has been discussing similar partnerships with other cities, Farajian said. But it chose to partner with Austin because the city’s “system of projects is uniquely positioned to benefit from this type of agreement.”
Austin’s mobility projects “closely aligned with USDOT’s strategic goals, involving a multimodal approach to improve safety, increase access to affordable transportation options, and to reconnect their community,” Farajian said. “Our ultimate goal is to help Austin achieve or exceed the intended outcomes of these projects, and to enable them to deliver the benefits to their community faster, cheaper, and more equitably.”
The partnership could include several other projects, including a $4 billion airport expansion, a nearly $1 million “cap and stitch” program to reconnect communities divided by Interstate 35 and $250 million in additional roadway improvements.