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VIA Seeking Streetcar Funding From Federal Transit Administration

VIA Metropolitan Transit

VIA Transit is preparing grants to secure federal funding for its proposed streetcar project. Now that the Federal Transit Administration has given its stamp of approval to the streetcar plan, several federal funding sources have become available to help it along.

After hundreds of committee meetings, four public meetings, and an array of route configurations, VIA finalized its streetcar plan, allowing it to move forward with requests for grant applications.

VIA spokesman Charlie Gonzalez said funding has already been secured for the first phase of the project – a north-south route with a west leg that takes the streetcar to a multi-model center. Funding requests would be secured for phase two of the streetcar project.

"But we would still be looking at this point at Small Starts, and the maximum that you would have there is about $75 million. Now, we have to match these things, but like I said, the monies that we have now, the $210 million, can be matching funds," Gonzalez said. 

Gonzalez said VIA will likely move forward on a smaller grant first, one that offers about $15 million and must be submitted right away to be considered.

"It has a deadline of April 28, actually, for the filing of the application, and that would be the Tiger Grant," he said. "These are all significant dollars. And anytime the federal government matches your dollar, dollar-for-dollar, you're in a good position."

The streetcar plan is entering the environmental assessment phase, which is the subject of the public meeting tonight at Temple Beth-El. Total cost of the program is $380 million.