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Shelton Mason County Journal
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Mason County Journal
October 9, 2014     Shelton Mason County Journal
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October 9, 2014

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MTA seeks more than $15M in state grants By NATALIE JOHNSON natalie@masoncoun com Mason Transit Authority's commuter bus routes from Shelton to either Olympia or Bremerton often have standing room only. To help satisfy demand, MTA is seeking more than $15 million in state money spread over the next four years to fund two projects in Mason County. "It's been confirmed by surveys; we need additional service," said MTA General Manager Brad Patterson. The agency has requested $2,488,500 for three new buses and operational costs and $13 million for both new and upgraded park and rides. Patterson said the numbers presented are best es- timates. Both requests are for 2014 Washington State De- partment of Transportation (WSDOT) Regional Mo- bility Grants. MTA's request asks that the grant money be awarded in the next two state bienniums -- from 2015 to 2018. Mason County commissioners Randy Neatherlin and Terri Jeffreys approved a letter of support for the grant requests Oct. 1 during a special meeting. Commissioner Tim Sheldon did not attend the meet= ing. All three Mason County Commissioners are mem- bers of the Mason Transit Authority board. Neatherlin and Jeffreys said they had not previ- ously heard about the grant requests. Patterson said the MTA board had been briefed on the project. Ridership on MTA bus routes increased 44 per- cent between 2008 and 2013, according to the agen- cy. MTA's first proposal requests funding for three 40-foot intercity buses at $455,000 each for a total of $1,365,000. If the grant is awarded, WSDOT would cover 80 percent of the cost and MTA would be respon- sible for the remaining 20 percent. The first request also asks for 50 percent fund- ing from WSDOT for the operations of the addi- tional buses for 3 years. If awarded, WSDOT would pay $561,750 and MTA would match that amount. "! think that's something we would be able to sus- tain long-term," Patterson said. MTA services are free within Mason County, but the agency charges fares for out-of-county trips. The additional routes would provide express ser- vice with fewer stops. The new routes would stop pri- marily at park and rides, Patterson said. "We don't have any express service now," he said. MTA's $13 million request would pay for improve- ments or construction of park and rides in Mason County. If awarded, the grant would pay for one new park and ride each in Belfair and Shelton. Each new park and ride would have 100 parking spots and cost $4 million. The grant would also pay for upgrades at the Cole Road and Pickering Road park and rides owned by Mason County, the city of Shelton's pear orchard park and ride, and the WSDOT-owned park and ride near Shelton Matlock Road. All together, the project.would add 352 new park- ing spots at park-and-ride locations. Patterson said these grants could reduce the need for MTA to request additional tax revenue in the fu- ture. Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014 - Mason County Journal - Page A-3 Journal photo by Gordon Weeks A worker on Monday paints a beam green atop Mason Transit Authority's Transit-Community Center in downtown Shelton. The Shelton City Commission on Monday agreed to team with MTA to seek money to improve the streets around the center, which is scheduled to open in February. Transit board scheduled to vote on partnership By GORDON WEEKS gordon@masoncounty.com The city of Shelton has agreed to team with Mason Transit Au- thority (MTA) to seek money to improve the streets around MTA's Transit-Community Cen- ter, hich is scheduled to open in February. The Shelton City Commission on Monday evening unanimous- ly passed a memorandum of un- derstanding with MTA that com- pels both agencies to seek grants to enhance downtown streets around the. cet ter. The bus traf- fic at the Center is expected to speed up the deterioration of surrounding streets. The city is already considering changing two blocks of Franklin Avenue to a one-way street to im- prove traffic flow at Safeway and the transit center, which is under construction at the former Wash- ington National Guard Armory building at 601 Franklin St. The MTA board of directors is scheduled to vote on the memo- randum of understanding at its regular meeting on Oct. 21, said Brad Patterson, MTA general manager. "I think it's a good arrange- ment, partnering with the city," he said. Under the proposed agree- :. ment, improvements on Frank- lin Street would be deferred for three years while the city seeks to expand improvements. If the city hasn't secured a grant within three years, MTA Would complete the deferred improvements On Franklin Street within one year. The memorandum of under-' standing also obligates MTA to provide a share of the grant -matching funds, At Monday's commission meet- ing, Steve Goins, the city's direc- tor of community and economic development, said the expanded project could include rehabilitat- ing one block of Fourth Street be- tween Franklin Street and Rail- road Avenue, and preserving by milling three blocks of Franklin Street between Fourth and First streets. He estimates the street projects could cost $1 million. The city is considering des- ignating two lanes of traffic to flow east on Franklin Street from Filch Street to Seventh Street. The change is designed to improve traffic flow and the increased pedestrian traffic that will come with the opening of the center. Under the preliminary propos- al, drivers would be alerted by six signs that would be added to the intersection of Filch and Frank- lin, including si s tha say stop, do not enter, no left turn, no right turn and one way. Signs that say one way also would be installed at Fourth and Franklin and Sev- enth and Franklin. Mason Transit Authority offi- cials starting talking to the city about the one-way street pro- posal while putting the transit- center project together four or five years ago. Hearings on MTA route changes scheduled STAFF REPORT news@masoncoun com Mason Transit Authority (MTA) has scheduled two public hearings to take public comment about proposed service changes for 2015. The first hearing is scheduled Three proposed projects will for 5:30 p.m. Oct. 17 at the North affect all MTA routes and Link Mason Timberland Library at service. 23081 state Route 3 in Belfair. Proposed changes under the The second is scheduled for first project include realigning 2:30 p.m. Oct. 21 at MTA's busi- Routes 1, 2, 5, 6, 7 and 8 to serve ness office at 790 E. 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