Grants to pay for sidewalks; air quality puts Salisbury at front of line for funding

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Mark Wineka
It’s not free money, but for the city of Salisbury, it’s close.
Dan Mikkelson, land management and development director, reported Tuesday that Salisbury has won tentative approval for $687,035 in Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality funds that will not require a local match.
In usual scenarios, the CMAQ funding pays for 80 percent of a project’s cost, while local governments are responsible for the remaining 20 percent.
But this “CMAQ Fast Track” funding doesn’t require the local funding, Mikkelson told Salisbury City Council on Tuesday.
The CMAQ grants are available to Salisbury because Rowan County is in a non-attainment area for air quality.
The fast-track funding will be used for Salisbury High School area sidewalks ($134,262), Salisbury Sports Complex sidewalks ($239,673), Statesville Boulevard sidewalks from U.S. 601 to Innes Street ($283,100) and the third and final year of free bus service on “Ozone Action” days ($30,000).
Mikkelson said to qualify for the fast-track funds, Salisbury agreed to defer several other sidewalk construction projects on a previously approved CMAQ list. To receive the fast-track money, Salisbury also must complete preliminary engineering, environmental documentation and right-of-way authorization by Aug. 29.
Salisbury will be making applications for a second round of CMAQ funding for fiscal years 2013-2017. Those applications are due to the Cabarrus-Rowan Metropolitan Planning Organization by April 3.
Eligible projects must have a positive impact on transportation air quality, as defined by federal CMAQ guidelines; have a minimum cost of $100,000; and provide a 20 percent local match.
City staff has recommended the city apply for CMAQ funding toward five projects:
– Expansion of the Salisbury Transit System.
– Salisbury Mall area sidewalks.
– Newsome Road sidewalks and bicycle lanes.
– Bringle Ferry Road sidewalks from Long Street to Newsome Road.
– South Main Street sidewalks from D Avenue to Rowan Mill Road.
City Manager David Treme said it would be important to receive CMAQ funding toward expansion of the bus service because it would provide 80 percent of the operating expenses for a new route over three years.
The transit system is funded by federal, state and local funds, but Salisbury is usually responsible for 80 percent of the operating expenses under the funding formulas.
In another matter related to transportation, council approved an ordinance outlining the creation of a Transportation Advisory Board for the transit system.
The board will have nine to 11 members, who will be appointed to three-year, staggered terms. The transit manager will serve as liaison to the board, which will meet quarterly and have standing committees.