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EPA awards Eugene $100k grant to explore SmartTrips options

An exciting press release about a $100,000 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant for Eugene SmartTrips came our way recently from Lindsay Selser, the SmartTrips  Program manager and Transportation Planning Technician for the City of Eugene.  Lindsay also runs the very informative City of Eugene Transportation Planning Facebook page.  The entire press release can be downloaded here (PDF).

Excerpts from the press release (emphasis mine):

A new project to promote environmentally friendly commuting in Eugene got a $100,000 boost from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week.

SmartTrips Eugene is designed to reduce drive-alone trips and increase biking, walking, and public transit in targeted geographic areas of the city. A pilot project will start in the Harlow neighborhood this summer. The EPA announced today that Eugene will receive a $104,126 EPA Climate Showcase Communities grant to continue the program in 2011, making it possible to offer this program to the Trainsong, Jefferson/Westside and Whiteaker neighborhoods. The 2011 SmartTrips program will provide customized outreach to approximately 12,000 residents.

[...]

Most of the Harlow neighborhood and a portion of the Cal Young neighborhood will be included in the 2010 pilot program. The SmartTrips Eugene pilot program is funded through a separate federal grant from the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency Community Block Grant program. Close proximity to downtown and the University of Oregon and good pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure were among the considerations used to select the target neighborhoods for the SmartTrips Eugene project.

WeBikeEugene contacted Lindsay Selser for more information about how the projects are funded.  According to Selser the 2010 pilot program in the Harlow neighborhood (which hasn’t begun publicly yet) is funded by an Energy Efficiency Community Block (EECB) grant for 2010 only.  That grant was for $121,000.  The new $100,000 EPA grant will fund the Trainsong, Jefferson/Westside, and Whiteaker neighborhoods in 2011.  The program runs on a seasonal basis, so it will no longer run in the Harlow neighborhood in 2011.

I asked Selser why the $100,000 EPA grant covers three neighorhoods while the $121,000 EECB grant only covered one.  She replied:

The EPA grant has a larger local match so the real 2011 program budget is closer to $160,000 for the three neighborhoods. There are also some start up costs in terms of equipment, graphic design and materials that will only happen in the first year, so that is another reason why the budget for 2010 may look a little high and the 2011 budget may look a little low.

The EECBG grant is effectively only $109,000 because of administrative costs. This is a large federal stimulus grant which means lots of reporting requirements.

When asked to explain more about what SmartTrips Eugene does, and how it is structured, Selser responded:

… our program will be modeled off of the very successful SmartTrips program in Portland (Portland also chooses 1-2 areas/neighborhoods a year). We will, however, be implementing some innovative techniques in Eugene. [...] [As well as being a marketing tool advocating for smart transit choices] We also utilize activities, classes, bike rides and walks in the target area to engage, educate, and encourage our participants.  [...]  In the 2011 program we will be installing wayfinding signs and pavement markings in the target areas to make it easier for people to get around by bike or by foot as part of the grant. [...] This is the first time that we have done a SmartTrips program in Eugene. There was a similar program called TravelSmart piloted in Eugene some years ago, but this program will be more interactive.

The city press release further explains the mission of Eugene SmartTrips:

SmartTrips Eugene incorporates an innovative and individualized marketing program that hand-delivers packets of information to residents who wish to learn more about transportation options including transit, walking, bicycling, carpooling, and combining trips. Key components feature biking and walking maps and organized activities that get people out in their neighborhoods or places of employment to discover how many trips they can easily, conveniently, and safely make without using a car.

SmartTrips Eugene was also featured in an EPA Press Release and on KLCC news.

From the EPA Press Release: (emphasis mine)

Eugene has comparatively good transit services, walking and biking pathways, and a pedestrian-friendly downtown, but nearly half its residents still drive alone to work each day. By addressing the “information and habit gap”, the City of Eugene’s SmartTrips program enables residents to find climate-friendly travel options. The program will provide:

  • A customized outreach program for 12,000 residents
  • A Transportation Masters leadership program
  • Improved signage for bicycle routes

“Eugene is on the right track,” said Anthony Barber, EPA’s director of Operations in Oregon. “With this program, the City is making it easier for people to make greener transportation choices. We know that cars are a major source of air pollution and this program will help people reduce emissions and improve the air quality in their own communities.”

Read the full press release for more details.

From the KLCC news story:

The City of Eugene is launching a pilot program this summer in the Harlow neighborhood to promote alternative transportation. The program is modeled after the successful one in Portland. It’s designed to reduce driving and increase biking, walking and the use of public transportation. Lindsay Selser with the City of Eugene says Harlow residents will be the first to receive information packets with customized maps.

Lindsay Selser “Then the exciting thing that we get to do with the Smart Trips program through these grants is offer classes, activities, workshops in those target areas for folks on how they can commute smarter . How you know if they want to bike, how do they get to the grocery store, how do they get their kids to school.”

A master transportation program will be offered similar to the master recycling or gardening ones. Selser says participants will become block captains, or local transportation experts. In 2011, the program will expand to Eugene’s Trainsong, Whiteaker, Jefferson and Westside neighborhoods with federal money.

Audio from the interview with Lindsay Selser can be found on KLCC’s website.



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