Regional Solicitation

Allocating federal funds to meet local and regional transportation needs

Every two years, the Regional Solicitation distributes federal transportation funds to locally initiated projects that meet regional transportation needs. The Council, as the region’s Metropolitan Planning Organization, works with the Transportation Advisory Board to review and allocate these funds, using an objective, data-driven, transparent process. 
 

DRAFT Solicitation Update Overveiw 

The Metropolitan Council and the Transportation Advisory Board are currently incorporating public comments on the draft into the Regional Solicitation and Highway Safety Improvement Program applications. The draft solicitation applications which the board released for public comment on Sept. 18 will be updated to reflect the responses shortly.
 
The three federally funded programs for the solicitations are the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program, the Congestion Mitigation Air Quality program, and Highway Safety Improvement Program. 
 
In February, we will invite local government agencies and their partners to apply for funds. 
 

Application criteria details 

With each solicitation, the Transportation Advisory Board considers many inputs into their funding decision, recognizing shifting priorities in our transportation system. The board members take these ideas and work collaboratively, making compromises to create a program that best serves the region. 

The summary of major changes below highlights the key changes in this year’s applications:  
  • Two new funding categories are proposed: roadway spot mobility and safety, and arterial bus rapid transit project
    • Roadway spot mobility and safety projects are smaller improvements that focus on mobility and safety at street level intersections with traffic lights or corridor-level intersections. These projects were previously eligible for roadway expansion, but their smaller investment scale did not compete well with larger projects.
    • The arterial bus rapid transit project category will provide funding to deliver one complete arterial bus rapid transit project. Previous solicitations did not make room for these larger projects and required them to be broken up into multiple Transit Expansion or Transit Modernization applications across funding cycles. Bus rapid transit types
  • The Transportation Advisory Board establishes ranges and midpoints to guide their funding distribution across the modal categories. New for this cycle is a proposed adjustment to increase the transit funding range by $5 million, and to reduce the roadway range by $4 million and the bicycle and pedestrian range by $1 million. The board will ultimately decide on the funding distribution when they select projects in late 2020. 
  • For the first time ever, the board is also proposing to set aside 2.5 percent of this cycle’s total funding for unique projects in the 2022 solicitation. This includes funding for the Travel Behavior Inventory and Regional Travel Model. The board will work over the next two years to establish eligibility for unique projects and develop an evaluation framework that will lay out the priorities for the funding category. Project applications will be accepted starting in the 2022 cycle for implementation in 2024 and 2025. 

The Regional Solicitation uses criteria and measures to evaluate which projects best contribute to regional goals and objectives and therefore warrant funding. These changes are proposed for this cycle:
  • Improve the equity scoring measure to focus less on where equity populations are concentrated in the region, and more on the benefits to equity populations and equity engagement specific to the project.
  • Add a new pedestrian safety measure in the roadway funding categories to emphasize the regional need for improved pedestrian safety.
  • Add a new congestion measure to the roadway applications to begin implementation of the region’s Congestion Management Process.
  • Integrate the Regional Bicycle Barriers Study into measures in the multiuse trails and bicycle facilities funding category and the roadways funding categories.
  • Include a new provision in the Roadway funding categories that allows projects to deduct funding awarded through other competitive funding programs (e.g. Transportation Economic Development Program) from the total project cost when calculating the cost effectiveness measure.
  • Add a new provision in the risk assessment measure for all projects that asks applicants about public and stakeholder engagement on the proposed project.
The Regional Solicitation has requirements for the minimum and maximum funding amounts that any project can receive, which attempts to strike a balance between efficient use of the federal funds and a geographic balance of funding. These changes are proposed for this cycle: 
  • Decrease the roadway traffic management technologies maximum federal award from $7 million to $3.5 million to better align with historical application requests.
  • Increase the roadway strategic capacity (previously roadway expansion) maximum federal award from $7 million to $10 million to accommodate the growing cost of these larger scale improvement projects.
  • Decrease the multiuse trail and bicycle facilities maximum award from $5.5 million to $4 million to spread funding around to more projects. Because, in the previous funding cycle  this category had the most project applications. with the most project applications in the previous cycle.
  • Increase the transit modernization minimum award from $100,000 to $500,000 to make sure that we are funding substantial infrastructure projects with federal funding.
  • Increase the travel demand management minimum award from $75,000 to $100,000 to ensure that these projects are substantial enough to warrant the requirements of federal funding.
  • Establish the roadway spot mobility and safety minimum award at $1 million and maximum award at $3.5 million.
  • Establish the arterial bus rapid transit maximum award at $25 million for one project.
The Regional Solicitation also includes policies that the Transportation Advisory Board establishes to address specific priorities. There are several changes proposed for this cycle:
  • Require project applicants to have a completed Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) transition plan to qualify for federal funding. An ADA transition plan is an implementation plan for government agencies to make sure that all facilities are accessible to people who have disabilities. The previous solicitation in 2018 only required substantial work toward a completed ADA transition plan. 
  • Eliminate the $10 million minimum funding for the bridge funding category, which limited the flexibility of the board when selecting projects, even though bridges are still a board priority. 
  • Establish a Transit New Market Guarantee to fund at least one transit expansion or transit modernization project that is outside of Transit Market Areas 1 and 2 on at least one end of the project. This is intended to encourage greater geographic balance of transit investments, where recent awards have focused in or around the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul.
  • Establish an eligibility requirement that the sponsors of multiuse trail projects verify that trails will be maintained for year-round bicycle and pedestrian use, including snow and ice control.

TAB Policy Workgroup

TAB created a Policy Workgroup to review and recommend changes for the 2020 Regional Solicitation.  

Contact us

Questions about the Regional Solicitation can be directed to Elaine Koutsoukos, TAB Coordinator, at elaine.koutsoukos@metc.state.mn.us or 651-602-1717.

Timeline
  • 9/19/2019 - Release Draft Solicitation for Public comment
  • 11/20/2019 - TAB adopts Solicitation
  • 12/2019 - Council Concurs with Solicitation
  • 1/2020 -2/2020 - TAB & Council host workshops
  • 2/2020 - Online Applications open in WebGrants
  • 4/16/2020 - Solicitation Applications due by 4:00 P.M.
  • 9/19/2019 - Release Draft Solicitation for Public comment
  • 11/2020 - TAB finalizes list of scored projects
  • 12/2020 - Council concurs with project selection
Public Comment Contacts