CLEVELAND - The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority has spent the last three years trying to raise 300 million dollars for updates to its infrastructure and new rail cars. RTA has raised 209 million of the 300 million dollars needed. In January, the RTA was expected to apply for a 100 million dollar grant from the infrastructure investment and jobs act. On Monday, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced 15 grants in nine states to help make it easier for people with disabilities and limited mobility to access some of the nation’s oldest and busiest rail transit systems. The Greater Cleveland, Regional Transit Authority, will receive 8,000,000 dollars to upgrade rail stations. Upgrades include creating light rail stations that will be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible, allowing safe and convenient travel. Modernization work at the station on East 79th Street which was built in the 1920s and will consist of installing ramps, concrete platforms, rail crossings, warning panels, canopy-covered concrete stairs, upgraded emergency call boxes, and slip-resistant walking surfaces.
President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds the grants. The approximately $686 million in grants represents the first round of funding from the new All Stations Accessibility Program, which is designed to improve the accessibility of transit rail stations so everyone, including those who use wheelchairs, push strollers, or cannot easily navigate stairs, can reliably access the rail systems in their communities.
“Every day, millions of people rely on our public transit system to get to work, buy groceries, and see their loved ones—yet today, three decades after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, hundreds of transit stations are still inaccessible for travelers with disabilities,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “The All-Stations Accessibility Program is going to change that by adding wheelchair ramps, elevators, and more.”
Inaccessibility is a significant hurdle for riders using rail systems built before 1990, known as legacy systems. More than 900 transit legacy stations are not fully accessible today. The All-Stations Accessibility Program supports transit agencies in repairing, improving, modifying, retrofitting or relocating station elements or facilities for passenger use. President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $1.75 billion for this vital program over five years.
“Since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, great strides have been made in improving accessibility, but there is still a lot of work to do,” said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “This includes modernizing rail systems in some of our most transit-oriented cities, and the ASAP program provides much-needed funding to address these overdue improvements. We want to ensure people with disabilities and others who need extra assistance are able to use transit systems with the same ease and reliability as any other user.”
Some of the selected ASAP projects include:
- The Greater Cleveland, Regional Transit Authority, will receive $8 million to make its East 79th Street light rail station fully accessible, allowing safe and convenient travel. Modernization work at the station, built in the 1920s, will include installing ramps, concrete platforms, rail crossings, warning panels, canopy-covered concrete stairs, upgraded emergency call boxes, and slip-resistant walking surfaces.
- The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority will receive $254.4 million to fully make three subway stations (Myrtle Avenue, Avenue I, and Norwood Avenue) in Brooklyn and one subway station (Burnside Avenue) in the Bronx ADA-accessible, allowing safe and convenient travel to and through the stations. The project will include installing elevators, modifying platforms to reduce gaps, installing tactile edge warning strips, and updating fare gates, stairs, and handrails.
- The Chicago Transit Authority will receive more than $118 million to modernize the Irving Park, Belmont, and Pulaski stations to make them fully accessible, allowing safe and convenient travel. Built over 50 years ago, the stations will be modernized with elevators, ramp upgrades, improved station signage, and general station enhancements.
Projects were selected for funding based on criteria described in the Notice of Funding Opportunity. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law created the program and provides $1.75 billion in funding through 2026. In response to the Notice of Funding of Opportunity, FTA received $905 million in funding requests. As a result of this demand, FTA is awarding both the FY 2022 and 2023 competitive grant funding.
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