Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority's Blue Line network

It’s best not to overlook Public Transit Authorities because upcoming projects are abundant 

June 7, 2024

Last week, the federal All-Stations Accessibility Program announced its third round of funding awards and another $343 million for transit infrastructure projects, and much-needed support will soon flow to upcoming transit projects.  Specifically, the revenue will focus on projects that increase accessibility, but the contracting opportunities will call for much more than just construction.

This particular program, which Congress created through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, has now awarded over $1.37 billion since 2022 and still has millions left for future projects between 2025 and 2026. The program was initially awarded $1.7 billion for projects to enhance the country’s public transit infrastructure.

Other federal sources are also providing funding for transit station projects. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) included $30 billion for transit projects. In 2023 alone, Congressionally Directed Spending (also called earmarks) approved another $360 million for specific transit projects in various states. More earmark allocations will provide funding for 2024-2025 projects. With America’s current growth and projected future growth, public transportation needs increase each year.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in New York City received the most significant award in the third round of funding from the All-Stations Accessibility Program.  Officials are now prioritizing projects from a list of planned projects at 70 stations. This particular plan lists upcoming projects that represent more than $5 billion.

A $156 million award will support accessibility upgrade projects at five New York stations. When completed, each station will fully comply with requirements established in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the projects will include many other components. Included will be work to install elevators, update and expand existing platforms, add platform edge warning strips, make stairway repairs, improve signage and enhance visual and audio announcement systems.

In New Jersey, transit officials are still working through a large transit station capital plan with a cumulative cost estimate of $814 million. The Authority was awarded $83.3 million, and officials will soon launch another project as the authority continues to improve the historic Brick Church Station in East Orange, New Jersey.  This project will be designed to bring the station into compliance with ADA laws and include many additional upgrades and enhancements. Two elevators will be added, and extensive backup generators will be installed to ensure there is never a break in services. New platforms will be added, and older ones will be upgraded. A pedestrian tunnel will be renovated, staircases will be upgraded, and the historic interior of the structure will be restored and redecorated.

The Brick Church Station is over a century old but still one of the most heavily used stations on the Morris and Essex line. It is a critical link between New York Penn Station and the surrounding counties. The project is currently in the engineering phase, and solicitations from contractors will be circulated in 2026.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority received $67.6 million in the current funding phase and revenue will be used to improve 14 rail stations along the Green Line, which extends north and west into the areas surrounding the city of Boston. Accessibility improvements are needed because almost all Green Line stations were built before accessibility mandates were required. Improvements include widening and leveling platforms, adding more lighting and raising platforms to shorten the step-ups to enter the cars. Ramps will be installed to bridge the high step using extendable bridge plates during construction. Pedestrian crossings and barriers between roads and platforms will be upgraded for safety. Customer-assistance call boxes, benches and improved signage are all called for in the plans. The 14 separate projects are all currently in the planning stages. A construction timeline has not been established.

 Another recently announced funding award went to the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. The allocation of $16 million will be used to renovate all eight stations within the Blue Line network. The stations will receive various accessibility upgrades, including replacing and raising the platforms and increasing safety by adding tactile warning panels, redesigned ramps and curb ramps. Parking facilities will also be expanded. In early 2025, the transit authority will also launch a project to upgrade another station located at East 79th Street.

After nearly 20 years of studies, surveys and planning, the city of Lincoln, Nebraska, will soon get a new Multi-Modal Transportation Center. The $33 million transit facility will facilitate public transportation access for pedestrians, cyclists, bus riders and vehicle drivers. It will be designed to connect all bus routes and reduce waiting times for transfers. Designed to be a two-story building, it will house accommodations for the public and StarTran administration. The first level will be a climate-controlled waiting area with an indoor restroom, security and ticket sales. The second level will be designed for administrative offices and public meetings. The project will deliver 18 bus bays, passenger boarding areas, covered walkways, wayfinding signage, parking areas and a police department building.

The transit station project is currently in the initial design and environmental review phase, which will last until late 2024. Construction is planned for 2025, with completion anticipated by 2027.

Public transportation is getting upgraded in a massive way, and the momentum is not expected to slow for several years. It is advisable for companies with services, equipment and specific skills not to overlook this well- funded and very strong trend.

Photo by Cards84664

Mary Scott Nabers

Mary is President/CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI), a business development/public affairs firm that specializes in procurement consulting, market research, government affairs, knowledge transfer and public-private partnerships (P3s). Mary is also co-founder of the Gemini Global Group (G3), a firm that works with national and international clients on business development, P3s, and other types of government objectives.

A recognized expert regarding P3s, Mary is the author of Collaboration Nation – How Public-Private Ventures Are Revolutionizing the Business of Government and Inside the Infrastructure Revolution – A Roadmap for Rebuilding America.

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