City fights suggestion to hold up funding for planning projects

The city successfully fought back Thursday against a recommendation by a Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission advisory committee that would have held up a grant to support planning work.

The grant, part of a region-wide program that is set to spend $1.2 million in Southeastern Pennsylvania, is designed to help local Transportation Management Association, or TMAs, with their efforts to mitigate traffic congestion.

Though the suburban TMAs do this mostly by providing shuttle services to major employment centers, Philadelphia’s TMA, which is controlled by the Center City District, had been planning on subcontracting several planning services out to the city, including work on Transit First projects and design work for reconstruction of Market Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard in Center City.

Though the state and federal agencies which administer the funds say they could be used for those purposes, the Regional Transportation Committee, which advises the DVRPC Board on transportation projects, recommended that Philadelphia’s portion of the money be held up until questions about the appropriateness of using the city as a subcontractor could be addressed.

Rina Cutler, the city’s deputy mayor for transportation and utilities,” said that she was “very disappointed” by the recommendation, noting that the city had long been a subcontractor for this grant and adding that the city’s work was designed to reduce congestion and promote transit and other transportation alternatives.

The DVRPC Board approved the Philadelphia TMA’s grant proposal after representatives of the suburban counties expressed support for Cutler’s position.

The board also voted to form a committee to review the criteria for the grant program for future years.

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