The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted some existing mobility needs and has also created new ones, such as the need for sufficient space for people walking to physically distance themselves from one another and the need for meaningful commerce to now be safely conducted on the sidewalks and in the streets of our cities and towns. 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.
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 provided grants from $5,000 to $300,000 for quick-build improvements to sidewalks, curbs, streets, on-street parking spaces, and off-street parking lots in support of public health, safe mobility, and renewed commerce.
Over 100 days, $10.2 million was allocated to 103 municipalities to implement 123 projects, from pop-up bikes lanes to safe ‘parklets’ for outdoor dining to improved crosswalks to dedicated bus lanes, as well as a range of traffic calming measures.
Given the summer success of the Shared Streets and Spaces program, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation is now relaunching the program in order to help municipalities address the challenges of winter and the ongoing public health crisis.
This new phase of the Shared Streets and Spaces Program is called Shared Winter Streets and Spaces.
MassDOT has allocated $10 million for this program. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis, and decisions will be made in four rounds. Please note that this review schedule is different from the first, summer version of the Shared Streets and Spaces Program.
|Round||Applications received by:||Notification of awards:|
|1||December 4th||December 22nd|
|2||January 5th||February 2nd|
|3||January 29th||February 26th|
|4||February 26th||March 26th|
Project completion and spending deadline for all four rounds is May 31, 2021.
Municipalities may submit only two applications to this program and may be awarded only one grant.
- Example: Municipality A applies in Round 1, but the application is rejected. One more application may then be submitted by Municipality A in Round 2, 3, or 4.
- Example: Municipality B applies in Round 2 and receives an award. Municipality B is not eligible to apply again.
- Example: Municipality C applies in Round 1 to convert a summer Shared Streets and Spaces project into a permanent installation. They receive the award and are not eligible to apply again.
Applications must include at least one of the types of projects listed below:
Main Streets - Invest in local downtowns and villages by re-purposing streets, plazas, sidewalks, curbs, and parking areas to facilitate outdoor activities and winter programming, including but not limited to facilities for eating, shopping, play, and community events and spaces for all ages.
- Grant Limit: Up to $300,000
- Bonus points for projects explicitly related to outdoor winter activities and community programming that follow COVID-19 guidelines.
Reimagined Streets - Prioritize safe spaces for people walking and biking by implementing low-speed streets, ‘shared streets,’ new sidewalks, new protected bike lanes, new permanent off-road trails, new bicycle parking, new crosswalks, traffic-calming measures, and ADA-compliant ramps.
- Grant Limit: Up to $300,000
- Bonus points for Safe Routes to Schools, including safe walking, bicycling, and pick-up/drop-off areas within two miles of schools or along streets used by children and youth.
- Bonus points for 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.
- Bonus points for Transit Connections, including safe walking and bicycling facilities within one mile of a public transit stop.
- Bonus points for Safe Routes to Open Spaces and Parks, including new pedestrian and bicycle facilities to make key connections to open space and parks.
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
Investments in the Future - Convert temporary projects piloted to become permanent facilities (pilot need not have been funded by MassDOT previously).
- Grant Limit: Up to $300,000
- Proposed project satisfies at least one Project Type(s) and two Project Elements
- Preference given to projects with the following features:
- Quick Launch: Whether proposed project can be implemented expeditiously (within 90 days).
- Turning Pilots Permanent: Proposed projects that turn quick-build pilots permanent by May 31, 2021.
- Permanence: Whether proposed project shows strong potential to be made permanent
- Equity: Whether proposed project is in a Census Block Group identified by the relevant Regional Planning Agency as an Environmental Justice area. An additional equity 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.
- Transit: Whether the proposed project will improve or create access to transit
- COVID-19 Rates: Whether the applicant municipality is designated as a COVID-19 ‘higher risk (red) community’ at the time of application (check status at ). Applications will get this point even in the lead municipality is not a higher risk community but a municipality partnering on the application is.
- Safe Routes to Open Space and Parks – New sidewalks, walking paths, multiuse paths, crosswalks, ramps, bicycle facilities to make key connections to open space and parks.
- Community Engagement - Whether proposed project has demonstrated engagement through public involvement activities, as part of project development beyond simply providing notice (public meeting, survey, workshop, etc.), or is included in an existing local or regional planning document.
Successful projects are those that can be implemented quickly, flexibly, at relatively low cost, and without major roadway reconstruction. 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. Note that pavement and paint work often cannot be done in the winter months - applicants should plan accordingly. 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 may also be better suited for use of Chapter 90 funds. Nothing about this program will change the control or ownership of any municipal roadway.
- 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.
- Applicant municipalities are required to demonstrate that public notification related to the proposed project has been given. Bonus points will be awarded to municipalities demonstrating concerted and thoughtful community engagement related to the project planning, design, and implementation. Bonus points will also be awarded to proposed projects that are included in a local or regional planning document.
- Municipalities are encouraged to work in partnership with other entities, such as local businesses, civic organizations, chambers of commerce, schools, camps, and other childcare or youth-oriented facilities, 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 administered approximately six weeks after the grant award date, and a final close-out report will be sent to each municipality at the end of May 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 June 30, 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 round of Shared Streets & Spaces has been fully expended and all projects fully implemented before applying for additional funding under the Shared Winter Streets & Spaces program.
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 here: https://www.mass.gov/how-to/how-to-apply-shared-streets-and-spaces-grant-program
2. Who can apply for this grant?
Only municipalities and public transit authorities may apply. Unfortunately, non-profits, private businesses, restaurants, and quasi-public agencies are not eligible to apply.
3. Can engineering and design services for eligible projects be funded, or is funding only for construction?
Although reasonable design costs – in appropriate proportion to the overall costs of the project – can be covered by a Shared Winter Streets and Spaces grant, we urge applicants to take advantage of the free Technical Assistance that is 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: https://www.mass.gov/service-details/technical-assistance-shared-streets-and-spaces-grant-program
4. Can this grant be retroactively applied to the costs of work already done, or will it only be used for projects moving forward?
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. 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. Each municipality may only receive one grant across all four rounds.
7. Can this grant be used for purchasing seats, tables, benches, planters, jersey barriers, and other similar materials?
8. We are a municipality working with private property owners to implement a Shared Winter 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. However, please note that projects located on private property that are not open to general 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 required to attach an access permit when applying to the Shared Streets & Spaces grant program. 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 interim and final close-out forms to funded municipalities. 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).
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.
1. My town has received a Shared Winter 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 & 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Do I need to use my town’s existing suppliers and contractors for the Shared Winter 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 has not prepared a specific list of approved vendors and does not require materials to be purchased from a specific supplier or work to be conducted by a specific contractor. If you would like assistance with purchasing materials for your project, please contact Alison Felix, Senior Transportation Planner at the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, at email@example.com. Alison can assist municipalities located outside the Metropolitan Area Planning Council region and may be able to negotiate a better price.
4. Part of my approved grant budget was allocated to a specific item, but then was not spent in full. Can my town reallocate this money to another item related to the project?
Yes, provided the purchase is in service of your approved project, and fits within the overall goals of the Shared Winter Streets and Spaces program. For instance, you may find that you have underspent an approved budget item allocated to paint and have overspent an approved budget item allocated to benches. In this case, you may reallocate the unused funds within your existing, approved budget. Grant monies may not be allocated to different projects or different uses outside the approved grant under any circumstances. If you have any questions about whether your funding can be reallocated to a different, approved budget item within your project, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
5. One of the elements of my approved Shared Winter Streets & Spaces project was not able to be implemented. Can I submit a revised proposal to MassDOT to propose a new use of these funds?
Unfortunately, no. All monies not expended under these contracts, agreements, or transactions shall be credited to the account of the department from which they were advanced (in this case, MassDOT). Please contact email@example.com if you are unable to complete your Shared Winter Streets & Spaces project and we will work with you to find a way to credit the unspent grant money.
6. What are the reporting requirements for this grant?
Award recipients will be required to submit information regarding project progress periodically after funding is distributed. After project completion, MassDOT will provide municipalities with a close-out form to report 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. This form will be distributed in the Spring of 2021 and should be submitted to MassDOT by June 30, 2021. In addition, MassDOT may work with municipalities directly to evaluate particular successes or lessons from the projects.
7. 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 Winter Streets and Spaces project?
Unfortunately, no. MassDOT is unable to provide top-up funding for projects that have gone over budget. If, however, you receive a quote for a particular item that exceeds the amount initially budgeted in your application, which does not bring your total project budget above what was awarded by MassDOT, that is okay. We expect there to be some reallocation of funds within project budgets. Please refer to question five above for more information.
The Metropolitan Area Planning Council may also 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, however. Please contact Alison Felix at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
8. I received Technical Assistance from one of the partners working with MassDOT on the Shared Winter 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?
9. I have received a Shared Winter Streets & Spaces grant and have additional questions about how to proceed. Is there someone I can talk to?
Yes! Please email email@example.com and we will arrange a time to speak with you. If your question is specifically in relation to procurement, please contact Alison Felix at the Metropolitan Area Planning Council at firstname.lastname@example.org