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Program Overview - Shared Streets and Spaces Grant Program

Every municipality and public transit authority in the Commonwealth is eligible to apply for funding under this program.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted some existing mobility needs and has also created new ones. Through the Shared Streets and Spaces Grant Program, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation seeks to assist municipalities in meeting their individual needs for more and safer outdoor recreation, commerce, community activities, and mobility.

Application priority

The Shared Streets and Spaces Program will prioritize applications from:

  • Locations with safety issues as demonstrated by local information, data, plans, or community concern. Applicants can provide a wide range of evidence documenting a safety concern, including -- but not limited to:
  • Environmental Justice communities. An additional bonus point will be awarded to projects that are situated in Census Blocks in which the area median household income is below the statewide median household income
  • Municipalities designated as a COVID-19 ‘higher risk (red) community’ at the time of application (check status here)
  • Cities and towns that have not previously received a Shared Streets and Spaces grant in either summer or winter cycles
  • Proposed projects with a budget of $50,000 or less
  • Quick-build projects that can be implemented by September 7, 2021
  • Projects that are proximate to schools, senior centers, transit and transit connections, and open space and parks

Shared Streets and Spaces will provide cities and towns with grants as small as $5,000 and as large as $200,000. Please note the maximum amount that can be requested is lower than previous iterations of Shared Streets and Spaces. Better Bus projects that provide new facilities for public buses may receive up to $500,000. All Commonwealth municipalities and public transit authorities -- including those that have received Shared Streets and Spaces grants in previous rounds -- are eligible to apply.

Summary & Application information

The Shared Streets and Spaces Program was established in June 2020 and was immediately popular with Massachusetts cities and towns. The program was then relaunched in November 2020 to help municipalities address the particular challenges of winter amid the ongoing public health crisis. Since it began, the Shared Streets and Spaces Grant Program has awarded a total of $26.4 million dollars to 161 municipalities and four transit authorities to implement 232 projects. Grant-funded projects have ranged from dedicated bus and bike lanes to seasonal parklets, road diets, safer crosswalks, and new bike share stations.

Given the previous success and popularity of the Shared Streets and Spaces Program, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation is launching a new, third phase of the program, in order to help communities gear up for summer amid the ongoing public health crisis and to adopt measures to create safer conditions and safer speeds on streets for all modes, ages, users, and abilities.

Applications will be accepted until Friday, May 21st. Please note that this review schedule is different from previous iterations of the Shared Streets and Spaces Program.

Application Deadline Award Notification Date Priority Implementation Date Project Implementation Deadline:
May 21, 2021 June 25, 2021 September 7, 2021 December 31, 2021

Projects that can be completed by September 7, 2021 will be prioritized for funding. All projects must be completed by December 31, 2021.

Municipalities may submit only two applications to this program and may be awarded only one grant. We will reach out to municipal staff in the event that two applications are submitted and both earn enough points to qualify for funding, to ask that you choose one project.

Project Types

Applications must include at least one of the types of projects listed below:

Main Streets - Invest in local downtowns and villages by repurposing streets, plazas, sidewalks, curbs, and parking areas to facilitate outdoor activities and summer programming, including but not limited to facilities for eating, shopping, play, and community events and spaces for all ages.

  • Grant Limit: Up to $200,000
  • Note: Materials used to enclose an area for outdoor dining or other activities that is adjacent to active vehicular traffic, without a raised curb or other meaningful separation in between, must be sufficient to provide protection appropriate to the level and speed of the vehicular traffic.

Safe Streets and Paths - Make our streets safe for people to walk, bike, and ride public transit by implementing interventions such as curb extensions, street reconfigurations and traffic calming (e.g. ‘road diets’), pedestrian crossing modifications (e.g. ADA curb ramps, pedestrian activated warning devices, crossing islands, crosswalks), pedestrian and bike network connections (e.g. separated bike lane, new or significantly widened sidewalks), environment and streetscape investments (e.g. bicycle parking, wayfinding signs, enhanced street lighting, seating), and new off-road trails or shared-use paths or connections to off-road facilities. Interventions can be pilots or permanent. A complete list of potential safety countermeasures can be found under Eligible Project Types.

Better Buses - Establish new facilities for public buses, including but not limited to dedicated bus lanes, traffic-signal priority equipment, and bus shelters.

  • Grant Limit: Up to $500,000

Shared Mobility - Support the capital costs of equipment for new bikeshare and micromobility share programs.

  • Grant Limit: Up to $200,000

Scoring Criteria

  • Proposed project satisfies at least one Project Type. Please note that projects score better when they include multiple elements (e.g. crosswalks and warning devices, parklets and a new bike lane, bus stops and a new ADA-compliant curb ramp).
  • Bonus points will be awarded to projects with the following features:
    • Safe Routes to Schools, including safe walking, bicycling, and pick-up/drop-off areas within two miles of schools or other facilities for children and youth or along streets used by children and youth.
    • Safe Routes for Seniors, including safe walking and bicycling facilities within one mile of senior centers, housing for elders, and travel corridors used by seniors.
    • Transit Connections, including safe walking and bicycling connections within one mile of bus stops, train stations, or other transit facilities.
    • Safe Routes to Open Spaces and Parks, including new pedestrian and bicycle facilities to make new connections to open space and parks.
    • Previously unfunded municipalities: Applications from municipalities that did not receive a Shared Streets and Spaces grant in either the winter or summer cycles.
    • Areas with safety issues as demonstrated by local information, data, plans, or community concerns. Applicants can provide a wide range of evidence documenting an identified safety concern, including -- but not limited to:
    • Low cost: Projects with budgets of $50,000 or less.
    • Quick Launch: Projects that can be fully implemented by September 7, 2021.
    • Permanence: Whether the proposed project shows strong potential to be made permanent or is permanent
    • Equity: Projects located in a Census Block Group identified by the relevant Regional Planning Agency as an Environmental Justice area. An additional bonus point will be awarded to projects that are situated in Census Blocks in which the area median household income is below the statewide median household income.
    • COVID-19 Rates: Municipalities designated as a COVID-19 ‘higher risk (red) community’ at the time of application. Applications will get this point even if the lead municipality is not a higher risk community but a municipality partnering on the application is
    • Community Engagement: Projects that demonstrate community support through public involvement activities, as part of project development beyond simply providing notice (public meeting, survey, workshop, etc.), or projects that are included in an existing local or regional planning document.

Successful projects are those that clearly meet the goals of the Shared Streets and Spaces Program, can be implemented quickly, flexibly, at relatively low cost, and have broad-based and demonstrated community support. Applicants should consider using inexpensive and readily available materials, such as traffic cones, temporary plastic barriers, flexible delineators, planters, and paint. Materials purchased using funds from this program become the property of the municipality. Projects that require substantive roadway/curb reconstruction may be better suited for other programs, such as the MassDOT Complete Streets Program, the MassTrails Grant Program, and the Commonwealth's MassWorks Program. Projects that focus on maintenance or repair are not eligible for Shared Streets and Spaces funding and are better suited for use of Chapter 90 funds. Nothing about this program will change the control or ownership of any municipal roadway.

Program Details

  • Materials used to enclose an area for outdoor dining or other activities that is adjacent to active vehicular traffic, without a raised curb or other meaningful separation in between, must be sufficient to provide protection appropriate to the level and speed of the vehicular traffic.
  • Municipalities may work together to propose cross-municipality projects, provided one municipality acts as the lead applicant.
  • Applicant municipalities must secure all necessary local approvals prior to funds being awarded under this program, including but not limited to sign-off on the proposal concept(s) by the relevant public safety entities and by municipal bodies responsible for ensuring equitable access by people with a range of abilities.
  • Projects proposed on MassDOT-owned roads will require a Highway Access Permit. More information on how to apply for a Highway Access Permit can be found here.
  • Applicant municipalities are required to demonstrate that appropriate public notification related to the proposed project has been given.
  • Municipalities are encouraged to work in partnership with other entities, such as local businesses, civic groups, chambers of commerce, schools, camps, and other childcare or youth-oriented facilities and organizations, local arts and culture organizations, Transportation Management Associations, houses of worship, and community centers to develop and implement proposed projects.
  • Applicant municipalities are encouraged to work with their local Regional Planning Agency and Regional Transit Authority in support of a proposed project.
  • A mid-point survey will be emailed approximately two months after the grant award date, and a final close-out report will be sent to each municipality at the end of October 2021. The mid-point survey will ask for an update on project progress and any impediments to project implementation. The final report will gather information on how the grant was spent and implemented, whether the project met anticipated goals, and whether the project will be made permanent. Unless otherwise noted, final reports must be completed and returned to MassDOT by December 1, 2021.
  • Project costs incurred prior to the issuance date of a Notice to Proceed given under this program are not considered eligible expenses.
  • Applicant municipalities are required to demonstrate that all funding awarded under the previous cycles of Shared Streets and Spaces has been fully expended, or has been accounted for in an extension request letter to MassDOT, before applying for additional funding.

Application Questions

1. We are a municipality interested in applying. What is our next step?

Review the project guidelines and eligibility requirements. If your project is eligible, complete an application on our website.

2. Who can apply for this grant?

Only municipalities and public transit authorities may apply.

3. Can engineering and design services for eligible projects be funded, or is funding only for construction?

Although reasonable design costs can be covered by a Shared Streets and Spaces grant as a small proportion of the overall project, we urge applicants to take advantage of the free Technical Assistance that is offered as a part of the program. Making use of this Assistance will maximize the grant funds available for on-the-ground implementation. Contact information for Technical Assistance providers can be found on the Shared Streets and Spaces Program website here:

4. Can this grant be retroactively applied to the costs of work already done, or will it only be used for projects moving forward?

No. Project costs incurred prior to the issuance date of a Notice to Proceed given under this program will not be considered eligible expenses.

5. Can municipalities submit more than one application?

Municipalities may submit up to two distinct applications but may be awarded only one grant. A single application can contain multiple sub-projects, however, provided the different pieces make sense as a thematic whole. Municipalities may sign on to the applications of other municipalities as supporters without limit.

6. Can a municipality receive more than one grant?

No, municipalities may only receive one grant under this new cycle of the Shared Streets and Spaces Program. Municipalities and transit authorities that have received grants from previous iterations of the Shared Streets and Spaces Program are still eligible to apply, but bonus points will be awarded to applications from municipalities that have never before received a grant.

7. Can this grant be used for purchasing seats, tables, benches, planters, jersey barriers, and other similar materials?

Yes.

8. We are a municipality working with private property owners to implement a Shared Streets and Spaces project. Our intention is to enter a long-term lease agreement with the owners. Is a lease agreement for public use of the private property sufficient for us to apply for these shared streets and spaces funds?

Yes. Municipalities may receive funding for improvements on private land as long as a legal agreement for the public use of the land has been obtained. However, please note that improvements made to private property that are not open and available to public use are not eligible under this grant program.

9. Is this program eligible for improvements on state-owned right of way?

MassDOT will consider the inclusion of roadways owned or controlled by MassDOT or by the Department of Conservation and Recreation. Applicants are strongly encouraged to begin the access permit approval process with their Highway District Office prior to applying for a MassDOT grant. More information on how to apply for a Highway Access Permit can be found here. Nothing about this program will change the control or ownership of any municipal roadway.

10. Will this grant cover costs for an evaluation of the project?

Yes. MassDOT will administer mid-point and final close-out surveys to funded municipalities and transit authorities. Those forms will primarily ask for qualitative assessments of how the project was implemented and its benefits, as well as spending information. If municipalities want to perform their own evaluation, those costs would need to be included in the budget for the grant and be covered by the grant (or funded separately by the municipality). Evaluation costs should represent no more than 5% of the total project cost.

11. Can work to implement projects under this program be performed by municipal Public Works personnel or other municipal staff (as opposed to requiring an outside contractor)?

Yes, work can be implemented or performed by municipal personnel.

12. How will the grant award be administered? Is it a reimbursement program like Chapter 90 or a direct funding award?

Grant awards are not paid through reimbursement. MassDOT will administer funds through a direct, lump sum payment which will be electronically transferred at the project outset to the same bank account that is used to receive municipal Chapter 90 funds.

 

13. Do you have any links to previously funded Shared Streets and Spaces projects that we can look to as examples of what MassDOT is looking to fund?

We encourage applicants to refer to the descriptions of previously awarded projects under the Award Announcements on the Shared Streets and Spaces Program page. Applicants may also be interested in seeing photos of previously funded projects on either the MassDOT Google Photo Drive or MAPC’s Flickr page of Shared Streets and Spaces installations. MAPC also has a more comprehensive Shared Streets and Spaces resource library that may be helpful for applicants to refer to when developing their projects.

Implementation Questions

1. My town has received a Shared Streets & Spaces grant. What is our next step?

Once a municipality receives an award letter from MassDOT, project implementation can proceed. Any allowable project costs, per your application, can be accrued after the date on your award letter. Unlike the Chapter 90 program, Shared Streets and Spaces grants are paid in full at the project outset and are not paid through reimbursement. Grant funds will be transferred directly to the same account used for Chapter 90 reimbursements within two weeks after the award letter is sent. If you experience a delay beyond two weeks, please email sharedstreets@dot.state.ma.us.

2. Do I need to use my town’s existing suppliers and contractors for the Shared Streets & Spaces project? Or can I source my own materials through alternative suppliers?

A municipality may source approved materials and labor through existing or alternative suppliers or contractors. All standard bidding and procurement rules should be followed.

3. Does MassDOT have a list of approved suppliers and contractors that I can consult?

MassDOT does not require materials to be purchased from a specific supplier or work to be conducted by a specific contractor. Applicants may find it helpful to consult the State Contract Guide developed by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) for frequently used materials. Please contact Alison Felix, Senior Transportation Planner at MAPC, at afelix@mapc.org with any questions. Alison can assist municipalities located outside of the MAPC region and may be able to negotiate a better price.

4. One of the elements of my approved Shared Streets and Spaces project was not able to be implemented or was less expensive than originally budgeted. Can I reallocate the leftover funds towards a different project?

Yes. Leftover funds can be spent on any projects that meet the eligibility requirements of the Shared Streets and Spaces Grant Program. Please send an email to sharedstreets@dot.state.ma.us if you anticipate having leftover grant funds and we will provide guidance on appropriate and eligible ways to spend the remainder of your grant.

5. What are the reporting requirements for this grant?

Award recipients will be required to complete an interim and end of grant survey. The mid-point survey will be emailed approximately two months after the grant award date, and the final evaluation survey will be emailed at the end of October 2021 for completion by December 1, 2021. Survey questions will seek to capture final project details, including spending details, lessons learned, the process of implementation, whether the project met anticipated goals, whether it was widely used, whether there were any safety concerns, public and business feedback received, and whether the project will be made permanent. Photographs of the project will also be requested of the project site before, during, and after project implementation. In addition, MassDOT may work with municipalities directly to evaluate particular successes or lessons from the projects.

6. I underestimated the price of certain items in my application budget, and the new quotes I have received exceed the total grant amount my municipality was awarded by MassDOT. Can MassDOT approve any additional funding for my Shared Streets and Spaces project?

Unfortunately, no. MassDOT is unable to provide top-up funding for projects that have gone over budget. The Metropolitan Area Planning Council may be able to help your municipality – regardless of whether you are in the Metropolitan Area Planning Council region – secure a more competitive, discounted price for certain project materials. Please consult MAPC State Contract Guide or contact Alison Felix at afelix@mapc.org for more information.

7. I received Technical Assistance from one of the partners working with MassDOT on the Shared Streets and Spaces Program. Can I allocate a portion of my project budget to hire the Technical Assistance provider as a contractor for project implementation

Unfortunately, no.

8. I have received a Shared Streets & Spaces grant and have additional questions about how to proceed. Is there someone I can talk to?

Please email sharedstreets@dot.state.ma.us and we will arrange a time to speak with you.

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