The Commonwealth Transportation Board approved the allocation of nearly $100 million of the $456 million in federal public transportation funding apportioned to Virginia by the CARES Act. The stimulus funds will enable local governments, small urban, and rural transit agencies throughout the Commonwealth to offset the substantial revenue losses, as well as sustain essential mobility functions related to the prevention, preparation, and response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our public transit agencies are the backbone of our economy and ensure critical movement of goods and people in all of our communities,” stated Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “This relief helps Virginia’s transit systems continue essential services and operations, and also offset the substantial costs of driver salaries, sanitization supplies, and protective equipment purchased to combat the Coronavirus and its aftermath.”
On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which includes $25 billion in federal transit assistance. The Commonwealth of Virginia was apportioned $456 million as follows:
- $356.6 million distributed directly to urban public transit agencies.
- $47.2 million to the Commonwealth of Virginia for discretionary allocation to small urban transit agencies.
- $52.5 million to the Commonwealth of Virginia for discretionary allocation to rural transit agencies, the Virginia Breeze intercity bus service, and the Appalachian Development Public Transportation Program.
The CTB amended DRPT’s FY 2020-2025 Six-Year Improvement Program (SYIP) to reflect the nearly $100 million in discretionary funding as follows:
- 100% of small urban transit agency funding according to the existing formula utilized by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Small urban agencies can apply directly to the FTA for their share of funding (CARES Act Section 5307 Apportionment Split Letter).
- 50% of rural transit agency funding according to the FY2020 allocation formula for FTA rural operating funding. (CARES Act Section 5311 Initial Distribution)
- 15% of rural transit agency funding to the Virginia Breeze intercity bus program.
- 35% of remaining rural transit agency and Appalachian Development Public Transportation Program funding to be held in reserve to address critical transit agency needs and administrative support for management of the CARES Act program.
The federal CARES Act funding does not require a state or local match and is nearly three times the amount of federal transit funding appropriated to Virginia transit agencies in FY 2020. All operating and capital uses are eligible, retroactive to January 20, 2020, and include purchases of personal protective equipment (PPE), cleaning equipment, and payment of administrative leave for employees.
CARES Act funding comes in addition to the $11 million in emergency statewide operating funding approved by the CTB last month, which has also allowed many Virginia public transit agencies to offset revenue and ridership losses and provide essential trips fare-free.
“The CARES Act will offer much-needed relief to our transit agencies that continue to endure ridership and revenue losses,” stated Director of the Department of Rail and Public Transportation, Jennifer Mitchell. “The funding will have a profound impact on the public transportation industry and its ability to recover from the pandemic.”
Stoney administration commits $25-50 million for commemoration, memorialization of “complete history”
The first investment of $3.5M will fund the Shockoe Area Memorial Park campus.
Surrounded by members of the Shockoe Alliance on Tuesday, Mayor Stoney committed to funding a capital improvement budget amendment of between $25 and 50 million in the city’s five-year CIP plan specifically for the commemoration and memorialization of what he calls “Richmond’s complete history.”
The mayor asserted that the shared priority of the Shockoe Alliance and city leadership is embracing and “telling the truth about Richmond’s history, centralizing the turmoil, resistance, resilience, and triumphs of Black Richmond.”
“Black lives built this city. Black lives have defined Richmond’s history. They matter,” Stoney said. “The story of Black lives should span our skyline, our landscape, and our textbooks accordingly.”
Priority investments will include the Shockoe Area, various African American burial grounds, and the Slave Trail. The effort will begin with a $3.5 million investment in the Shockoe Area Memorial Park.
The memorial park, a vision developed by the Shockoe Alliance and informed by decades of community work in the area, will use greenspace and structural sites such as a heritage center or museum to create a space of memorialization, education, and atonement.
The space will encompass the African American Burial Ground, the Devil’s Half Acre site, and the two blocks east of the railroad tracks that may constitute a future archeological site.
“In this city, we care about our history. We are our history, no matter how painful that may be to confront, and we are committed to telling our full story,” said Mayor Stoney. “That story, and so rightfully that investment, begins here. On the ground of Shockoe, and in honor of our ancestors.”
Richmond reschedules National Night Out events due to COVID-19 concerns
Events will be tentatively rescheduled for October 6th, 2020.
Due to COVID-19 concerns, the Richmond Police Department is rescheduling this year’s National Night Out.
National Night Out will be tentatively held on Tuesday, October 6, 2020.
“We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 conditions in Richmond,” police said in a release. “Please watch RPD’s social media sites for updates.”
National Night Out is designed to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness, generate support for, and participation in, local anti-crime efforts, strengthen neighborhood spirit and police‐community partnerships, and send a message to criminals letting them know neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
As we get closer to the rescheduled date, RPD will provide updates on the status of 2020 National Night Out.
Daily Planet pleads with community for water donations for homeless during heatwave
The nonprofit needs supplies to distribute to the homeless population during the hottest time of year.
With Richmond already experiencing its first significant heatwave of the summer, and with more expected in August, Daily Planet Health Services (DPHS) is asking those that are able to, to donate bottled water and pre-packaged, single-serve snacks to the nonprofit. The supplies will be distributed directly to the homeless living around Richmond, helping to ensure this population has the necessary resources to stay hydrated and nourished during the hottest part of the summer.
This week (July 27-31), a DPHS employee will be set up to receive donations in the parking lot of the 517 W Grace St parking lot from 8:30 a.m.-noon. If someone would like to donate water or snacks outside of that timeframe, they can call the nonprofit at 804-783-2505 x 230 to set up a donation.
74 percent of DPHS’ patients are at or below the poverty level, and as the Healthcare for the Homeless Grantee, the nonprofit serves the region’s homeless. Typically, summer and winter months are the most difficult for these populations, but given the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, they now have even fewer resources available to them.
“With so many of the traditional places that our homeless population utilizes to cool off and hydrate during the hot summer months – like libraries, restaurants and community centers – either closed or drastically limiting capacity, many are left without an avenue to escape the heat,” said Taylor Garrett, outreach coordinator at Daily Planet Health Services. “We’ve unfortunately already seen firsthand this summer the dire impact the heat can have on the homeless population, and we’re hopeful that the Richmond community can come together to help us get nourishment to those that need it most.”