Rainier and Sunset avenues top city's 2014 grant priorities

Grant season is beginning to heat up and the City of Renton is gearing up to make a run at some federal and state monies to help improve the city’s roads and trails systems.

City of Renton Planning and Programs Supervisor for Transportation Jim Seitz this week detailed for the City Council some of the projects the city hopes to receive money for this year. There are four rounds of “Calls for Projects,” with the first coming from the Puget Sound Regional Council.

The PSRC will be distributing federal funds for projects and Seitz said his department is busy working to make sure Renton gets its share of the dollars.

Seitz said the top priority in the city eligible for PSRC money is the next phase of the Rainier Avenue South rebuild project, stretching from South Third Street north to Nelson, near the city limits.

Seitz said the city can only apply for a single phase of the project and will be requesting $3 million for the design phase of the project, which he said is crucial because the new Central Sound Aerospace Training Center will be built near the north end of the project limit.

“We’d like to have good improvements up to that point,” he said Wednesday.

But the grant application will be competing through the “very competitive” four county PSRC area, including King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap Counties, so Seitz said the city will also be entering the project in the PSRC’s county-wide competition as well.

Seitz said the regional grant takes priority so the city won’t be eligible for both, but because the project is so important to the city, a secondary grant application is worth it, just in case.

Seitz said Renton is also asking for a $2 million grant to purchase right-of-way for work planned along Sunset Avenue. The city received grant money for the design phase of the project, which looks to create a Rainier Avenue-style boulevard with sidewalks and traffic-calming medians, but to move forward on the project, money is needed to begin to buy land around the street.

In addition, Seitz said a new trail is planned for the north side of Sunset.

In the countywide non-motorized category, which includes money for sidewalks and trails, Renton is also hoping to receive $600,000 for the right-of-way work for the Lake Washington Loop Trail, which runs the perimeter of the airport and will connect to the southern portion of the trail that runs along Logan Avenue in front of Renton Memorial Stadium.

Again, the city previously received grant money for the design work and hopes this year to get moving on the construction, which should move bikers and walkers off of Perimeter Road on on to their own trail.

“Perimeter Road can sometimes get really busy, so we’re looking at separating that trail,” Seitz said.

Seitz also said the city will apply for a $500,000 grant to begin design work on a “missing link of sidewalk” on 116th Avenue Southeast, as identified in the city’s Benson Hill Neighborhood Plan.

In the “Preservation” category, which is designed to help maintain current roadways, Seitz said the city is seeking money for work on Duvall Avenue North, a major north-south roadway that connects with Coal Creek Parkway to the north.

Seitz said the projects align with the City Council’s priority list, as drawn from the six-year Transportation Improvement Plan, and also show an attempt to bring money to all parts of the city.

Seitz said there is usually a minimum city match of 20 percent of funding for federal grants and also added that when the money comes in, it comes with deadlines so the city has to be quick or they could lose it.

“We have to be ready to spend the money when we receive it,” he said.

Seitz said the city has a good shot at money, especially for Sunset Avenue and the Rainier corridor, both of which received funding last year.

“Those two projects, I think, are fairly high priority for the county,” he said.

He also said the loop trail has a good shot, but called the Benson Hill money a “longer shot” because of the location and the “missing link” nature of the project, but said he thought if the city did not get a grant, it could be re-submitted later in the year for a different round of calls for projects.

“Historically, the city has done very well at getting these projects funded,” he said.

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