“What we are doing as a staff is positioning ourselves for an end-of-year amendment to the Federal Fiscal Year 2014,” Lombardo said.
Twenty-five years ago, Norman would not have been able to qualify for this much federal funding. Back then, funding was based on population — Norman’s share would be about 8 percent under the old plan.
“The new transportation bill, and particularly those dollars that were spent in metro areas, are now based on need,” Lombardo said. “A criteria to rate projects based on need was developed.”
Norman is a growing city with high traffic counts and aging infrastructure. Funding based on need serves the city well.
In recent years, a transportation safety element emerged that allows some projects to receive 100 percent federal funding, and Norman has been able to take advantage of those designated dollars. Ten percent of federal funding is set aside for safety projects such as traffic signals, striping and school zone flashing lights.
“We have done really well historically when it comes to that,” Lombardo said.
O’Leary said another exciting element emerged in the funding games this year. Oklahoma City made the case for funding the Santa Fe Rail station hub. The city had already been awarded a $13.6 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant. Getting another slice of the federal pie will help bring this project to fruition.
The Santa Fe hub is key for Norman because all of the metro rail legs will eventually tie into it, and the route from Oklahoma City through Moore to Norman is a key transportation component.
“We supported that; everyone did,” O’Leary said. “That elevates our commuter rail study.”
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