Federal grants awarded for 2 transit projects in Arkansas

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 1,288 views 

An agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will give $367,650 for transit improvement projects in Arkansas as part of public transportation program that supports areas of persistent poverty.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced Thursday (June 23) awarding more than $16.2 million for 40 projects in 32 states and two territories through the agency’s Areas of Persistent Poverty program for fiscal year 2021.

Batesville-based White River Health System Inc. will receive $187,650 to create a low-cost transit network to improve access to jobs, healthcare and education for rural communities in north-central Arkansas. The healthcare provider will work with stakeholders to increase mobility for people to see their doctors and get to their jobs, reducing absenteeism and preventable hospital admissions and making the communities healthier and more secure, according to the FTA website.

The city of Pine Bluff Transit will receive $180,000 to study ways to improve public transportation by improving efficiency and ensuring their system meets the needs of those who lack access to jobs, public services, education and healthcare facilities.

“For millions of people in communities big and small, transit is a lifeline,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Every American should have a way to affordably get to work or school, buy fresh food, access medical care and visit their loved ones — and these transit grants will help make that a reality in 45 underserved communities across the country.”

The FTA received applications totaling nearly $63 million in funding requests for the Areas of Persistent Poverty program. The grants support the planning, engineering and technical studies or financial plans to improve transit in Census-defined low-income areas. The program also supports coordinated human service transportation planning to improve transit service or provide new services, including paratransit.

“Transit can be the great equalizer, but if you live in a transit desert, where options are few and far away, you don’t have access to that power,” said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “FTA’s Areas of Persistent Poverty program removes barriers to opportunity by increasing access to jobs, school and services for some of our residents who need it the most.”

According to a news release, the next round of program funding is expected to support more projects because of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The program was previously known as Helping Obtain Prosperity for Everyone.

Link here for the selected program projects for fiscal year 2021.