2024-06-18 5:43 AM

$ Coming to F.C. In Omnibus Federal Bill

According to News-Press sources, the U.S. Congressional 2022 Omnibus spending bill expected to be passed and signed this Friday includes substantial funding for two programs in the City of Falls Church championed by U.S. Rep. Don Beyer. 

Beyer’s office confirmed this with Falls Church Deputy City Manager Cindy Mester this week, Mester has said. The two programs included in the bill are one for $600,000 for “green vehicle fleet upgrades and replacements” and another for $1,500,000 for a multimodal transportation infrastructure improvements. In a city the size of Falls Church, these are no mean amounts.

On an entirely separate track, the offices of Virginia’s two U.S. senators, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, yesterday announced $842,140 in federal funding to help homeless veterans in Virginia access affordable housing with the bulk of the funding going to the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority ($415,494) and the Virginia Housing Development Authority ($315,641) for use throughout the state.

Three smaller amounts under $41,000 each will go to Richmond, Roanoke and Staunton housing authorities. 

This comes following last week’s announcement by the two senators that over $940,000 in federal funding is coming to help Virginians with disabilities access affordable housing and after another announcement they made in September, that over $4.2 million was coming for affordable housing in Virginia, in which context Sen. Kaine introduced the Fair Housing Improvement Act of 2022 aimed at protecting veterans and low income families from housing discrimination.

Concerning the “green fleet” fund for the City of Falls Church, $600,000 was requested to upgrade the City’s Public Works Division fleet with electric and hybrid vehicles and to install 10 electric vehicle chargers at the Robert L. Goff Property Yard at 7100 Gordon Road. Two other charging units contained in the request already exist at City Hall.

So, the total vehicle purchase is expected to be an even dozen with six fully electric and six hybrid to accommodate additional positions needed for supporting private redevelopment inspections and public capital infrastructure projects. 

The additional fleet vehicles are a net energy savings due to the fact that they will involve eliminating fossil fuel vehicles and utilizing smaller more efficient vehicles where appropriate.

The program provides replacements for five Chevrolet Silverado hybrids, one Ford E15 van, and one Kia Sportage that have exceeded their useful life, according to Mester, by having increased maintenance costs and decreased  average miles per gallon. One Silverado currently averages 8.4 miles per gallon.

By obtaining this grant, the City will purchase two Ford e-Transit Vans, six Ford Maverick Hybrids, four Ford F150 Lighting electric vehicles, will install ten chargers with remote communications capability at the property yard, and remove the current vehicles listed above from service.

A blend of fully electric and hybrid was determined to be the best solution, at this point, given the type of available vehicles that match the public works functional needs and duration that  some vehicles may need to operate such as during an emergency or overnight work inspections.

These trucks will allow for reduced emissions, improved gas mileage, supply a sufficient number of vehicles for Public Works’ needs, and accommodate for the Department’s growth over the last few years.  All vehicles purchased with the requested funds follow the City’s green fleet goals, policies, and objectives.

Concerning the multimodal transportation infrastructure, the City requested $1,500,000 to include pedestrian (sidewalk, crosswalk, intersections), bicycle, bridge, and traffic calming improvements.

The funds requested will be used to correct deficient infrastructure, enhance bridge infrastructure and pedestrian and bicycle facilities throughout the City. The activities are included in the definitions of the federal surface transportation block grant program.

According to Mester, all projects implemented with the requested funds are in the City’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP), follow the City Comprehensive Plan guidelines, and will align with and complement the regional long-range goals for transportation planning.

 All potential projects will share one main objective, she said, which is to increase safety for all transportation methods (particularly transit, pedestrian and bicycle), to reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, to enhance existing transportation networks, and to maintain and repair existing infrastructure.

The requested funds will be used for repair, enhancement, and/or construction of the following types of facilities: bridges, sidewalks, crosswalks, pedestrian signals, mid-block pedestrian crossings, lighting, bicycle signs and signals, bicycle lanes and shared-use lane markings, bicycle parking, traffic calming, traffic monitoring, multimodal transportation management programs such as the Capital Bikeshare program, improvements or capital, and trails.

In addition, the requested funds can also be used for the following activities: Intersection improvements such as the addition of bump-outs and reconfiguring of curb ramps, to achieve compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and state regulations; Relocation of traffic and utility poles and utility lines underground when such relocations support transportation alternatives and bicycle transportation facilities as described above, or improve compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act; bridge inspection, maintenance, repair, and replacement activities; and all phases of design, engineering, right-of-way acquisition, construction, and project management activity.

Also the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission’s Community Requests submission made through U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly’s office with Rep. Beyer’s support, along with a City Council support letter, for the Envision Route 7 Bus Rapid Transit project was funded. with $2 million for preliminary engineering.


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