Transit not needed for funds

Kevin Lynch is dead wrong about the purpose of the federal TEA-21 Transportation Enhancement Program, the source of funds used to pay for the lion's share of the city's historic preservation project for Court Square [On Architecture, "Court flair," October 17, 2005].

Lynch is quoted as saying that the Enhancement Program is designated for transit projects and should not have been used to underground utilities as part of the Court Square preservation project.

Apart from the obvious fact that Court Square did not have overhead utility poles and wires in Jefferson's time, and undergrounding was necessary to be faithful to the area's historic character, Lynch's statements are just not well-informed.

These are the guidelines from the VDOT website entitled, "What is the Transportation Enhancement Program?"

"The TE program fosters more choices for travel by providing funding for sidewalks, bike lanes, and the conversion of abandoned railroad corridors into trails. Communities may also use the program to revitalize local and regional economies by restoring eligible historic buildings, renovating streetscapes, or providing transportation museums and visitor centers. Many communities also use the program to acquire, restore and preserve scenic or historic sites."

"What Projects are Eligible?

The basic Federal requirements for TE projects are that they be one of the following 12 defined activities and be related to surface transportation.

- Pedestrian and Bicycle Facilities

- Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety and Educational Activities

- Acquisition of Scenic or Historic Easements and Sites

- Scenic or Historic Highway Programs including Tourist and Welcome Centers

- Landscaping and Scenic Beautification

- Historic Preservation

- Rehabilitation and Operation of Historic Transportation Buildings, Structures, or Facilities

- Preservation of Abandoned Railway Corridors

- Control and Removal of Outdoor Advertising

- Archaeological Planning and Research

- Mitigation of Highway Runoff and Provision of Wildlife Under/Over-crossings

- Establishment of Transportation Museums."

The Court Square project fits squarely within these eligibility standards, which is why the city was awarded these highly competitive grants for the historic preservation project. Please note that none of these standards mentions transit projects.

Meredith Richards