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Council Considering Applying $14 Million in Federal Grants for Route 1 Undergrounding

During the most recent meeting of the College Park City-University Partnership board (The Partnership), there was discussion and interest in moving forward with applying for a TIGER grant for the Baltimore Ave. rebuild, to include undergrounding of utilities.

If awarded, this grant funding could provide approximately $11M to $14M in funds towards undergrounding utilities, which has been a long term goal of the City. The City would likely be the applicant for this grant – SHA, while supportive, typically only does 1 or 2 TIGER grants per grant round, and this is not their highest priority. In order to ensure that the grant application is as competitive as possible and can be done on time, Eric Olson, Executive Director for The Partnership, has consulted with Parsons Brinckerhoff, an engineering and consulting firm that specializes in applications like this.

In order to obtain turnkey services to put together the TIGER application, Parsons said it would cost $45-50K. The Partnership has offered to fund 50% of this cost if the city pays for the other half. The TIGER grant application is due April.

The City has budgeted for FY 15-16 funding of $300,000 for design and engineering of this project. To date, $217,464 has been spent. In FY 14-15, $140,000 was budgeted for a Feasibility Study. To date, $94,407 has been spent. Monument has agreed to fund $60,000 toward undergrounding utilities and the University has previously agreed to fund $70,000 towards the feasibility study.

At to tomorrow’s meeting, the Council will consider authorizing the expenditure of $25,000 to prepare and submit the application. I’ve a few questions about applying for the grant now, when SHA is scheduled to do the ROW (Right of Way) acquisition of the properties along Route 1, based on their plan for aerial relocation of utility lines.

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