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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Advice given to downtown group

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

SIKESTON -- Historic Midtown Development Group and city officials received valuable advice on how to better apply for a transportation enhancement grant next year.

"All we're trying to do is do better next year," said Jim Bucher, treasurer for the Historic Midtown Development Group.

The group had "specific questions so next year we understand the procedure better and know what works," he said.

The federal Surface Transportation Program funding for transportation enhancement activities in local communities is routed through the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Steve Duke, executive director of the Bootheel Regional Planning and Economic Development Commission at Malden, said he was on the review committee that made decision on prioritizing applications.

Transportation enhancement grants require 50 percent in local matching funds for grants over $400,000.

As Sikeston's grant application requested $410,000 with only a 21-percent match, "it was ineligible from the beginning," Duke said, and therefore never made it further in the review process.

Another problem with Sikeston's application is related to the grant's preference for non-traditional transportation projects.

Among other things, Sikeston's application requested funds to widen sidewalks on North Kingshighway and repair sidewalk sections that have failed.

Duke said sidewalk repairs and widening is considered to be routine maintenance.

"That's not the intent of this program," he said. "What they don't want to see is routine maintenance. They want to see non-traditional transportation projects."

Another thing officials look for when reviewing grants is past performance on previous grants. Officials expect to at least see "reasonable progress" on projects previously approved.

Duke noted that there are no administration fees on transportation enhancement grants, although engineers do get paid for their work on the projects.

"I think this cleared a lot of situations up and that's what we we're looking to do," said Ed Dust, director of the Sikeston Department of Economic Development.

He said Sikeston now has a lot more information on the process to guide them for next year's application.

Bill Robison, planning manager for the MoDOT's Southeast District, advised Sikeston officials that the transportation enhancement grant writing workshop held each spring is very helpful as well.

"The application may change a bit from now and next spring," he said.

Bucher said the rejected application was thrown together in about three days as the Historic Midtown Development Group hadn't previously been aware of the program.

"Sikeston's, I felt, was a decent application," Robison said.

The deadline for transportation enhancement grant applications each year is in May.