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    Downtown Memphis to get $5.6 million more from TIGER grant

    Andy Ashby - Memphis Business Journal -

    Some of the money from the Main Street to Main Street Multimodal Connector project has been transferred from the Arkansas portion to the Main Street portion in Memphis.
    The U.S. Department of Transportation has agreed to a change in the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) IV grant which will redirect $5.6 million to improvements in Downtown Memphis, according to Congressman Steve Cohen’s office.
    Cohen, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, lobbied Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood on the change.
    “The $5.6 million in funds being redirected to Downtown Memphis will play an important role in revitalizing downtown,” Cohen said in a statement.
    The Secretary of Transportation agreed to the proposed scope change which includes money to add lighting and streetscape improvements, to make sidewalks compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, to provide drainage upgrades to prevent flooding and standing water on Main Street, and to create additional bike and pedestrian connections with the trolley, bus routes, the train station and landmarks like the National Civil Rights Museum.
    In the original application, money was designated to elevate portions of the Arkansas pathways in the floodplain from the Harahan Bridge to Broadway Avenue. However, elevating those pathways would cost nearly $6 million and not solve the problem completely, according to Mike Carpenter, who was tapped in July as project manager for the Main Street to Main Street Multimodal Connector.
    The entire Main Street to Main Street TIGER grant, which was awarded in June, is worth $14.9 million.
    Service roads near the pathways flood an average of 29 days a year, mostly in January and February. Since those service roads flood, elevating the new pathways which connect to it doesn’t merit the extra expense.
    “If it completely solved all the potential flooding problems, that’s one thing,” Carpenter said. “But it doesn’t.”
    Government officials in Arkansas are fine with the redirection of these funds, according to Carpenter.
    “The people in West Memphis were very gracious about this,” he said.
    Carpenter, who also leads the city of Memphis’ Office of Intergovernmental Relations, is in the process of hiring someone who will oversee the technical aspects of the project. Carpenter is also making a presentation to the Memphis City Council on Tuesday.