TDOT awards more than $46 million in state and federal funds for transit improvements

Jan. 16, 2024
The funding comes from three grants, including The Transportation Alternatives Program, the IMPROVE Transit Investment Grant and the Multimodal Access Grant.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) has awarded more than $46 million in state and federal grant funds that support multimodal investments in transit statewide.  

“Increasing safety, promoting healthy lifestyles and providing improved access to our cities and towns make our communities better places to live and work,” said Gov. of Tennessee Bill Lee. “I’m pleased the state can provide the support necessary to move these projects forward.” 

The awards are for three grant programs administered through TDOT. The Transportation Alternatives Program grant is made possible through a federally funded program. A variety of activities, such as the restoration of historic facilities, bike and pedestrian trails, landscaping, and other non-traditional transportation projects, are eligible for grant funds under the federal program. TDOT is awarding $15.2 million to seven communities. 

“Since 1991, through these grants, TDOT has funded $400 million in non-traditional transportation projects,” said Deputy Gov. of Tennessee and TDOT Commissioner Butch Eley. “This program has assisted communities across Tennessee in their efforts to revitalize downtowns, highlight historic areas, provide alternative means of transportation and increase opportunities for economic development.”  

In addition, TDOT received 12 applications from 10 transit agencies in the IMPROVE Transit Investment Grant competitive call for projects and is awarding $18.8 million to the agencies. Since 2018, TDOT has awarded nearly $88 million in state funding through the department’s competitive transit grant program. The funding has allowed transit agencies to have a mechanism to build new facilities and transit options across Tennessee. Several examples include new transit centers in Kingsport, Pigeon Forge, Murfreesboro and Nashville. Other examples include electric buses and infrastructure in Knoxville and Chattanooga, as well as the advancement of a bus rapid transit system in Memphis with the Innovation Corridor.  

The IMPROVE Transit Investment Grant awards will fund $5.47 million in rolling stock and equipment projects, $8 million in passenger-facing infrastructure projects and $2.86 million in facility projects.   

TDOT also awarded $12.5 million in Multimodal Access Grant funding for 12 projects supporting pedestrians, bicyclists and transit users through infrastructure projects that address existing gaps along state routes. Four of the projects, totaling $4 million, are in distressed and at-risk counties. 

WeGo Public Transit 

WeGo Public Transit has received $10.7 million in funding from the IMPROVE Transit Investment Grant for three WeGo bus projects and one WeGo Star project. The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County is providing $2.7 million in matching money to secure the grant funding. 

“This funding will allow us to accelerate delivery of safe infrastructure that supports Nashvillians regardless of how they choose to use our roads. I am grateful to the state and TDOT for their partnership on these projects,” said City of Nashville Mayor Freddie O’ Connell. 

“We are pleased to continue to partner with the state of Tennessee to deliver improved transit infrastructure,” said WeGo CEO Steve Bland. “All of the projects funded by TDOT with this round of IMPROVE Act funding will support public transportation services and enhanced safety for the people of middle Tennessee.” 

The four projects funded include: 

  • $800,000 for WeGo Star arrival and departure tracking technology, providing real-time information for digital displays at the stations and sent to the Internet for transit user websites. Tennessee Metro provided $200,000 in matching funds. 
  • $2.4 million for bus shelters and pedestrian access improvements on the new bus Route 71 Trinity, which will operate crosstown service on Trinity Lane from Gallatin Pike to the new Dr. Ernest Rip Patton, Jr. North Nashville Transit Center when it opens in the spring. The WeGo Board of Directors is set to vote on approval of Route 71 later this month. If approved, it will begin service in April. The award will also fund improvements at Murfreesboro Pike and Thompson Lane. Tennessee Metro is providing $600,000 in matching funds. 
  • $5 million for construction of safety and access improvements for bus riders on High Injury Network Roadways. The work will include crosswalks and shelters. The Nashville Department of Transportation identifies dangerous roadways for such projects and will be a partner in the work. Tennessee Metro provided $1.25 million in matching funds. 
  • An additional $2.5 million in funding for the Southeast Transit Center Project (formerly known as the Hickory Hollow Transit Center). TDOT and the Federal Transit Administration have provided funds for the project in past years as well. The transit center is currently in the planning phase and will be part of a large redevelopment of the former mall location by the Metropolitan Government of Nashville. The grant brings the total funds raised for the project to $20 million. Tennessee Metro provided $625,000 in matching funds. 

The full list of grant recipients can be found at TDOT’s website.  

About the Author

Brandon Lewis | Associate Editor

Brandon Lewis is a recent graduate of Kent State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lewis is a former freelance editorial assistant at Vehicle Service in Endeavor Business Media’s Vehicle Repair Group. Lewis brings his knowledge of web managing, copyediting and SEO practices to Mass Transit Magazine as an associate editor.