USDOT Issues $23M in Thriving Communities Funds

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently awarded $23.6 million in Thriving Communities Program or TCP grants to three national “capacity builders” and six regional providers that will provide roughly 112 communities – including 12 tribal nations – with technical assistance so they can access federal infrastructure funding and resources.

[Above photo by the USDOT]

Managed by the Build America Bureau within USDOT, the program’s “technical assistance” includes a variety of tasks, from preparing application materials and predevelopment activities, to deploying innovative community engagement, workforce development, and clean technology strategies.

The agency said the overall TCP initiative – created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA – provides two years of no-cost technical assistance to help advance projects that improve health outcomes, reduce housing and transportation cost burdens, improve housing conditions, preserve or expand jobs, and increase reliable mobility options for “disadvantaged communities,” especially small, rural, and tribal ones.

USDOT noted that, out of the 64 communities selected to receive $22 million in TCP grants in 2023, some 37 have now also won federal funding for their communities through various USDOT discretionary grant programs such as Safe Streets and Roads for All program, the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity or RAISE program, and the Rural and Tribal Assistance pilot program.  

“The Thriving Communities participants have proven that this technical assistance model can tremendously impact their success rate not only in competing for federal grants, but also in better utilizing innovative solutions to deliver their projects more efficiently and cost-effectively,” said Morteza Farajian, executive director of the Build America Bureau, in a statement.

The three national “capacity builders” receiving fiscal year 2023 TCP funds are:  

  • Rural Community Assistance Partnership Incorporated, in partnership with Community Engineering Corps, Communities Unlimited, Great Lakes Community Action Partnership, Midwest Assistance Program, National Association of Development Organizations, RCAP Solutions, and Rural Community Assistance Corporation, received over $4.2 million to support 16 “main street” programs. USDOT said “main street” funding is focused on tribal, rural, and small-town communities and the interconnected transportation, community, and economic development issues they face.
  • Abt Associates Inc., in partnership with EPR, P.C., Equitable Cities, Morgan State University, Nelson\Nygaard, Safe Routes Partnership, and Smart Growth America, received over $4.9 million to support 20 “complete neighborhoods communities” projects. Those projects focus on urban and suburban communities located within Metropolitan Planning Organization planning areas working to better advance complete streets policies and coordinate transportation with land use, housing, and economic development.
  • The Conference of Minority Transportation Officials or COMTO, in partnership with AECOM, Intelligent Transportation Society of America, Accelerator for America, Two Degrees, ReConnect Rondo, and MWDBE Training Academy, received over $4.2 million to support 16 “networked communities” projects. Those projects are focused on communities located near ports, airports, freight, and rail facilities to address mobility, access, housing, environmental justice, and economic issues.

USDOT also provided $1 million to $2 million in funding each to six projects benefiting 60 communities in total through a new TCP Regional Pilot Program; a program that allows participants to support TCP activities to communities within their jurisdictions at a state or regional scale. Two projects overseen by state departments of transportation received funds as part of this TCO pilot program, USDOT noted:

  • The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities in partnership with the Alaska Municipal League, receiving $2 million to support 18 communities, four of which are tribal nations.

The New York State Department of Transportation, in partnership with the with New York State Department of State and ICF Incorporated, received over $1 million to support five communities: the Town and Village of Alfred, the Village of Dolgeville, the Village of Margaretville, the Town and Village of Massena, and Wyoming County. 

Michigan DOT Launches Household Travel Survey

The Michigan Department of Transportation has launched a statewide household travel survey, dubbed “MI Travel Counts,” to help the agency determine how travel behavior has changed over the past decade; helping the agency plan future changes and improvements to the state’s transportation system.

[Above photo by Michigan DOT]

Last conducted in 2015, the survey aims to help Michigan DOT planners account for the many changes in travel that have occurred, like the prevalence of remote work, the increase in online shopping, and greater use of ridesharing and delivery services. Data from the survey will also be used to plan out transportation infrastructure investments for the next 20 years, the agency added.

Michigan DOT noted in a statement that randomly selected households will receive an invitation to participate in the survey via U.S. mail and, upon accepting the invitation, household members will provide demographic data and then report their travel either via a smartphone application, the internet, or by telephone. The information provided to MI Travel Counts will be anonymized and aggregated to calculate statistics for study purposes, the agency added.

The agency added that the “MI Travel Counts” survey – conducted on its behalf by national research firm Resource Systems Group – will be conducted in three phases, with the first scheduled to run from April 15 through early June, with additional phases anticipated in spring 2025 and fall 2025.

Several other state departments of transportation are also in the midst of similar statewide travel survey efforts.

For example, in March, the Colorado Department of Transportation partnered with local and regional agencies across the state to conduct a “Colorado Travel Counts” household survey. The agency said insights gained from this survey – officially launched at end of February 2024 and slated wrap up in February 2025 – will help Colorado DOT and regional planning agencies prioritize local transportation projects, improve mobility, provide valuable transit services and reduce roadway congestion.

Households selected for participation will be offered up to $10 per person as compensation for the time and effort needed to join and complete the survey.

The survey results should help create a “snapshot” of how the transportation system is used statewide, Colorado DOT noted; enabling its planners to use that information as a foundation for future mobility planning and development efforts.

Environmental News Highlights – April 17, 2024


FHWA Issues $830M in PROTECT Resiliency Grants -AASHTO Journal

Court upholds California’s authority to set nation-leading vehicle emission rules –AP

Senate rebukes Biden administration on effort to reduce vehicle pollution -Route Fifty



See Maps of Where Eclipse Seekers Flocked and the Traffic That Followed -New York Times

These US Cities Benefited Most From Solar Eclipse Tourism –CityLab

Traffic gets eclipsed in Texas -Texas Department of Transportation (media release)

Thousands Travel to NH to View the Solar Eclipse -New Hampshire Department of Transportation (media release)



APTA: Transit-ridership levels continue post-pandemic recovery -Progressive Railroading



Colorado pumps $21 million into fast-charger expansion for electric vehicles -Powers Journal

This Florida highway will wirelessly charge electric cars on the go -Tampa Bay Times

Port of Albany awarded $9.9M in funding for rail and maritime infrastructure improvements from NYS DOT -American Journal of Transportation

This lamppost EV charger just went commercial in the US –Electrek

Biden urged to ban China-made electric vehicles -BBC News



California’s Clean Air Act Exemption Targeted in Lawsuits Challenging Truck GHG Rules -HDT/Truckinginfo



Civil engineering researcher looks to remedy inequities in traffic safety -University of Arizona

Extra Step Added For Transit-Oriented Housing -New Haven Independent

Biden’s environmental justice scorecard offers more questions than answers –Grist



Boy Scouts Join Tennessee DOT Litter Cleanup Campaign -AASHTO Journal

Resilience to Natural Hazards and Historic Buildings -National Park Service

Urban planning should consider building height, shape, and arrangement to best protect pedestrians during severe precipitation and wind -Physics of Fluids

WYDOT Widens Access to Road-Closure Data to Save Lives in Severe Weather -Wyoming DOT (media release)



An Ode to the Northeast Corridor, the Rail Line That Keeps Amtrak Alive –CityLab

Jersey Shore hangout spot for 4×4 beach vehicles could disappear without more sand

UTA plans to expand, redesign transit by possible 2034 Olympics -KSTU-TV



WVDOT Helps Develop Unique ‘Rail Bike’ Offering -AASHTO Journal

Houston’s New Mayor Pumps the Brakes on Street Safety Projects –Governing

Metra sees surge in bikes on trains following change in policy –Trains

How climate change is beginning to be built into employee pay and benefits –CNBC

Minnesota touts e-bike rebates worth up to 75% off cost of new purchase -WCCO-TV



Transformational Technologies and Mobility Inclusion Playbook –NCHRP

Airport Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic -TRB (webinar)



National Public Transportation Safety Plan -FTA (Notice of availability and response to comments)

Public Transportation Agency Safety Plans -FTA (Final rule)

Advisory Committee on Transportation Equity (ACTE); Notice of Public Meeting -Office of the Secretary, Department of Transportation (Notice of public meeting)

Pipeline Safety: Meeting of the Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee -Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (Notice; extension of comment period)

Renewal Package From the State of Arizona to the Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program and Proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Assigning Federal Highway Administration’s Environmental Review Responsibilities to the State -FHWA (Notice, request for comments)

Renewal Package From the State of California to the Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program and Proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Assigning Environmental Responsibilities to the State -FRA (Notice, request for comments)

Notice of Adoption of a Fish and Wildlife Service Categorical Exclusion Under the National Environmental Policy Act -EPA (Notice)