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Better Connections Grant Program

Grants to Vermont Municipalities for Transportation
Improvements and Downtown Revitalization

Agency Type:

State

Funding Source:

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Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans), Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD)

Conf. Date:

12/31/17

Deadline Date:

01/31/18 4:00 PM Electronic Receipt and Postmarked by Date

Description:

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Grants ranging from $35,000 and $67,500 to Vermont municipalities to enhance transportation options and develop community resilience and economic vitality in the state’s community centers. Applicants must have a pre-application meeting with program staff prior to December 31.

Purpose & Objectives:

By providing resources and state assistance, the Program encourages municipalities to proactively coordinate land use decisions with transportation investments that build community resilience, with a particular emphasis on projects that support the implementation of innovative transportation and land use concepts.

The Program works in partnership with municipalities and other stakeholders to accomplish the following objectives:
-Provides safe, multi-modal and resilient transportation system that supports the Vermont economy
-Supports downtown and village economic development and revitalization efforts
-Leads directly to project implementation (demonstrated by community capacity and readiness to implement)

Priority consideration will be given to projects that:
1. Are located within (or adjacent to) a state designated downtown, village center, neighborhood development area, new town center or growth center. (To determine if your community has a state designation, visit the Vermont Planning Atlas).
2. Represent inter-municipal efforts.
3. Demonstrate a local commitment to the project (as represented by the commitment of in-kind staff services, an overmatch of local funds, strong community and partner support (evidenced through letters of support) or complementary local activities or initiatives).

Eligible Projects:

Program grants are for planning projects that inform local policy decisions and facilitate the implementation of projects. Projects should address land use and development, context-sensitive design, transportation network connectivity and roadway design, housing, water quality, green and grey infrastructure capacity, revitalization and economic development. All projects must include an effective community visioning process and must identify and prioritize implementation measures and the economic benefit of such measures (i.e. economic impact analysis; demonstrated intent to inform the municipal capital plan; etc.). Prioritized recommendations and/or the implementation plan should coincide with capital projects identified in the regional and municipal plans, municipal capital plan or the VTrans Capital Program. Projects must support the Program purpose and objectives (on page 2).

Examples of eligible projects include, but are not necessarily limited to:

A. Activity Center Plans

Activity Center plans are smaller in geographic focus than Municipal Plans, and because of their smaller geography and focus they present a community-driven vision of the physical environment for a downtown/village center/neighborhood/street for the next 10 years. Activity Center Plans are illustrative in nature and address detailed improvement strategies for both improvements to the public realm and private sector development. A successful activity center plan will also include an extensive and diverse public engagement process with multiple public meetings, workshops, charrettes, and/or pop-up events. Activity Center plans engage the community in a process to evaluate ways to enhance their community through improved connectivity, rehabilitation of buildings, or redevelopment of sites, adding housing, and the introduction or improvement of streets, parks and open spaces. In addition to the physical plan, there can be a corresponding economic and marketing plan to ensure the market viability of the proposed improvements and inform the municipality’s capital planning. The plans are action-oriented and layout a strategic implementation plan for both short-term and long-term public and private investments in the defined project area. The relationship between transportation and land use must be clearly articulated, considering the impacts to the transportation network, local land use, water quality, housing, economic development and community resilience.

This could include:
-Downtown Transportation and Land Use Plan
-Village Center Transportation and Land Use Plan -Neighborhood Transportation and Land Use Plan -Complete Street Plans
-Wayfinding and Traffic Calming Plans
-Access Management Plans
-Parking Management Plans

B. Corridor Transportation and Land Use Plan (CTLUP)

A CTLUP supports and encourages safe, comfortable multimodal transportation options (bicycle, pedestrian, vehicles, and transit) on state highways and town highways. The CTLUP geography varies, but the plan should be implementation-driven and deliver strategies to improve both the transportation and land use along a specific area of the corridor. A successful corridor plan will also include an extensive and diverse public engagement process with multiple public meetings, workshops, charrettes, and/or pop-up events. In addition to the corridor plan, there can be a corresponding economic and marketing plan to ensure the market viability of the proposed improvements and inform the municipality’s capital planning. The relationship between transportation and land use must be clearly articulated, considering the impacts to the transportation network, local land use, water quality, housing, economic development and community resilience.

This could include:
-Corridor Transportation and Land Use Plans -Active Transportation Plans
-Traffic Calming Plans
-Access Management Plans
-Multi-modal Linkage Plans
-Complete Street Plans
-Transportation Impact Fee Studies
-Transit Impact Development Fee Studies

C. Innovative Transportation and Land Use Guidelines and Policies

Guidelines and bylaws that integrate transportation and land use to increase transportation options, support economic development, housing, water quality and community resilience. Successful guidelines and policies will also include an extensive and diverse public engagement process with multiple public meetings, workshops, charrettes, and/or pop-up events. The guidelines must be specific to a certain area (downtown, village, neighborhood or corridor) and not municipal-wide bylaws or standards.

This could include:
-Form-based Codes for a specific area
-Streetscape Design Guidelines
-Complete Street Guidelines/Bylaws
-Specific Bylaws that integrate transportation and land use in a specific area -Street Design Guidelines with typical drawings
-Parking regulations, pricing, and management strategies

Eligible Costs: Program grants and required match can be spent only on “direct project related costs.” Eligible costs include consultant costs, postage, travel, supplies and printing. Equipment purchases and indirect costs, including general administrative overhead, are NOT eligible costs. Costs incurred prior to signing the Program grant agreement with VTrans are NOT eligible project costs.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 176430

Estimated Total Program Funding:

$180,000

Number of Grants:

It is anticipated that the program will fund 3-4 projects per grant cycle.

Estimated Size of Grant:

Awards may range between $35,000 and $67,500.

Term of Contract:

The Better Connections Program projects must be completed within 18 months from the award date. No time extensions are granted.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Applicants must be a unit of local government (town, city, or village) in Vermont outside of Chittenden County with a confirmed local planning process. To be confirmed, an adopted municipal plan must be approved by December 31, 2017 by the municipality’s Regional Planning Commission (RPC) and the municipality must maintain efforts to provide local funds for municipal and regional planning purposes as required by 24 V.S.A. §4350.

For the purposes of the Program, a municipality is defined by 24 V.S.A §4303 (12). Under this definition an incorporated village is not considered a separate municipality unless the village adopts its own plan and one or more bylaws either before, concurrently with, or subsequent to such action by the town.

Awarded projects must be consistent with the goals of the regional and municipal plan. Inter-municipal efforts are encouraged and multiple municipalities may apply as a consortium. If applying as a consortium, all towns must have a confirmed municipal plan by December 31, 2017. Consortium applications must address a shared issue and identify a lead municipality to administer the project. If applying as a consortium, each town must submit a resolution, designating the same local project manager and showing support from the legislative body of the municipality, such as selectboard, village trustees or city council.

Only one project per municipality can be funded in each grant cycle. If a municipality is awarded funds in the previous grant year, the municipality is not eligible to apply in the next grant cycle.

Municipalities are ineligible to receive funds if they are (a) suspended or debarred by the Federal Government; (b) delinquent in submitting their subrecipient annual reports; or (c) delinquent in submitting their Single Audit Reports (if required).

The Program funds eligible planning activities only. The following are not eligible uses for Program funds:
-Right-of-way acquisition
-Detailed engineering
-Construction
-Land Surveying
-Project Scoping
-Political Activities
-Storm water/sewer system design
-Construction of transportation system facilities
-Capital oriented implementation actions
-Projects inconsistent with the goals of the Municipal or Regional Plan
-Regional Plans and Municipal Plans
-Municipal-wide bylaws and standards
-Municipal and regional planning commission staff time
-Projects located within Chittenden County
-Support plans, bylaws and policies that violate the State or Federal Fair Housing Act. Fair

Housing Training is available to all grantees and is encouraged for projects which relate to housing and/or revisions to zoning bylaws.

NOTE:
-Poor administrative performance on previous state grants will affect the competitiveness of an application (points deducted).
-When application scores are tied and only one can be selected for funding, preference will be given to the municipality without a recent Program Grant and projects located in or adjacent to a state designated center.
-Experience has shown that funding the development of plans and bylaws to include “adopted” versions as a deliverable product is not realistic. Municipal planning and achieving community consensus takes time. Applicants are therefore encouraged to use the grant for activities leading up to (and including) distribution of a draft plan or bylaw for the first required public hearing by the planning commission or governing body.

Pre-proposal Conference:

All applicants are required to contact the Program Managers, Richard Amore and Jackie Cassino to set up a pre-application meeting.

All pre-application meetings will be conducted by conference call and shall occur prior to December 31, 2017.

VTrans and ACCD staff will conduct a preliminary screening process through a pre-application meeting with the potential applicant.

Pre-Application Information:

The Program provides a total of $200,000 consisting of $180,000 in grant funds and up to $20,000 in local cash match. Grant funds consist of: $160,000 in Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) State Planning and Research Funds and $20,000 in ACCD funds.

The Program requires a minimum 10% local cash match of the total project cost. Municipalities may not use other federal or state funding sources to cover the local match.

Electronic applications are due 4:00 PM, Wednesday, January 31, 2018. Email them to Jackie Cassino.

Also mail or hand-deliver five (5) paper copies of all electronically submitted application materials. Mailed applications must be postmarked by January 31, 2018.

The Program is a reimbursement program. Applicants submit quarterly invoices for completed work and VTrans pays the state and federal share of the total.

-Program Grant Announcement: October 16, 2017
-Pre-application meeting deadline & RPC confirmation of municipal planning process: December 31, 2017
-Application Deadline: January 31, 2018 @ 4:00 PM
-Award Decisions: March 2, 2018
-Project Started: June 1, 2018
-Project Completed: September 1, 2019
-Final Report Due: September 27, 2019

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Jackie Cassino, Planning Coordinator
Policy, Planning & Intermodal Development
Vermont Agency of Transportation
802.272.2368
jackie.cassino@vermont.gov

Richard Amore, Planning & Project Manager
Community Planning + Revitalization
Agency of Commerce and Community Development
802.828.5229
richard.amore@vermont.gov

VT Agency of Transportation
Policy and Planning
1 National Life Drive
Montpelier, VT 05633

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Vermont: Statewide, excluding Chittenden County