Updates to MassDOT’s Complete Streets Program Funding Guidance

Updates to MassDOT’s Complete Streets Program Funding Guidance

In March 2021, MassDOT released the new Complete Streets Program Funding Guidance for cities and towns interested in participating in the program. Launched in 2016, the MassDOT Complete Streets Funding Program is the first state program in the United States devoted to funding complete streets – streets that are designed to make travel safe, comfortable, and accessible for all users. Five years later, more than 50% of all Massachusetts communities are involved in the Complete Streets program.

Major changes to the Guidance Document include: 

  • Update to the Tier 2 Prioritization Plan 
  • Revision of the Tier 3 Project Application Template
  • Update to the funding eligibility criteria for Tier 3 grant recipients
  • New chapter on public engagement
  1. Update to the Tier 2 Prioritization Plan 
  • Tier 2 no longer has three entry options as previously indicated. The municipality must develop a Complete Streets Prioritization Plan and can still provide a commitment letter to MassDOT to pass the Complete Streets policy within one year. (This would be completing Tier 1 and 2 simultaneously).
  • Municipalities can request up to $38,000 in technical assistance funding (it is no longer $50,000). 
  1. Revision of the Tier 3 Project Application Template 
  • Revised template is available on the MassDOT website
  1. Update to the funding eligibility criteria for Tier 3 grant recipients 
  • Effective Fiscal Year 2022, municipalities can receive a maximum award of $400,000 in Tier 3 funding within any four-fiscal year timeframe. Municipalities can receive several smaller grants within the four-year window or one full grant of $400,000. It is important to note that Tier 2 grants do not count toward Tier 3 grants. Municipalities can check to see if they are eligible for additional funding here
  • If the municipality is applying for a project that costs more than the funding they are eligible for, they must include the amount of money they will need covered by external funding sources. 
  • A municipality can apply for a 2nd (or 3rd, 4th…) construction project only after the prior awarded project has been completed. 
  1. New chapter on public engagement
  • The 2021 Guidance document includes for the first time a section on “Public Engagement and Complete Streets.” MassDOT strongly recommends municipalities engage with community members– especially marginalized groups– on identifying issues and areas for improvement in the community. 
  • In order to engage with a community, MassDOT suggests: 
    • establishing working groups or planning committees with a diverse set of individuals, representative of the municipality;
    • engaging and listening to community members’ experiences and feedback; 
    • speaking with the public during all three tiers of the Complete Streets Funding process and providing updates on any changes and final decisions; and
    • removing barriers to participation, such as language, time, and access. To do this, MassDOT recommends:
      • Partnering with trusted community leaders and organizations to reach members of the community. Potentially compensate individuals for their time and involvement
      • Requesting time at a community/neighborhood meeting or hosting a pop-up at a public place like a grocery store or public library
      • Providing multiple options for individuals to provide in-person and online feedback at meetings and events 
      • Translating materials and having appropriate translators at events and meetings 
      • Ensuring accessibility for individuals with differing visual and physical abilities 
      • Providing incentives for participation, such as food, childcare, or stipends 

WalkBoston and the Complete Streets Program

WalkBoston has had a measurable impact on the success of MassDOT’s Complete Streets Funding program. We have worked on walking with 122 of the 267 municipalities that have participated in the funding program, with targeted assistance for the funding program provided to 25 cities and towns.

WalkBoston has assisted communities at each major program milestone: passage of a policy (Tier 1); development of a prioritization plan (Tier 2); and acquisition of capital funding (Tier 3). Specifically, WalkBoston provided technical assistance to:

  • 25 different communities in at least one Tier
  • 3 municipalities during Tier 1, 2, and 3
  • 10 municipalities in both Tier 2 and Tier 3
  • 19 municipalities that received Tier 3 funding, 11 of whom received funding for projects identified in walk audit recommendations

New Complete Streets Funding Announced 

On July 20, 2021, MassDOT announced that $6.05 million have been awarded to 18 communities for Complete Streets Funding Program Awards. For the full press release and information on communities awarded, visit the website here.

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