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CAMPO begins refund process for postponed transit projects

Tuesday, October 12, 2021 by Seth Smalley

Most of the discussion at the Oct. 11 Transportation Policy Board meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization centered around the possibility of refunding a handful of projects that were deferred because of the Interstate 35 expansion project.

Ryan Collins, short-range planning manager for CAMPO, laid out the process for refunding deferral projects.

CAMPO deferred approximately $120 million – “$169 million if you include the level match” – in STBG, or surface transportation block grant funding, which is intended for infrastructure projects such as highways, bridges, tunnels, public roads, bus terminals, pedestrian and bicycle paths, as well as transit projects.

Part of the deferral process, according to Collins, was an agreement to prioritize specific projects for refunding when the funds became available. Recently, $15 million in STBG funding was made available via federal congressional actions.

There were 25 project funds in question, including a $22 million proposal to turn Pearce Lane, adjacent to Circuit of the Americas, into a four-lane highway and add bike lanes. Other significant chunks of the deferred project list include $15 million toward reconstructing the intersection to add an overpass at the section of Anderson Mill Road in Travis County (and $10 million more toward the same project in Williamson County), and $14.7 million to widen Braker Lane from Harris Branch Parkway to Samsung Boulevard.

“Any project sponsor that has a project on this list and wants to be refunded, is required to submit an application so that we can look at the readiness and see what’s changed on the project so that we can make a recommendation on that refunding,” Collins explained. “The prioritization process basically just looks at the readiness of the projects on this list.”

“We will also recommend removing some projects that have either moved forward with local funding, or for some other reason does not need to be refunded,” Collins told board members.

CAMPO expects it will refund $41 million worth of projects. “That lines up basically what we get in STGB funding on an annual basis,” Collins said, speculating that, by this time next year, the entirety of the remaining projects will be funded.

So far CAMPO has received seven project applications. CAMPO will publicly present on, and make recommendations for or against, those sponsors and projects next month.

Photo made available through a Creative Commons license.

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