The city of Dayton is preparing to apply for a grant of nearly $20 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation to strengthen the connection between the city’s “Innovation Corridor” and West Dayton. The Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity grants, which were announced in December, will provide $1.5 billion in new funding, and the federal government is currently accepting new applications.
The current “Innovation Corridor” runs from the University of Dayton campus through downtown and the Arcade, through Tech Town in the Webster Street District to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. According to Joe Weinel, the chief engineer for the city of Dayton, the “Innovation Corridor” also includes West Dayton and the West Dayton incubator. Weinel said that the Main Street and Patterson Boulevard area is seen as the geographical center of the corridor, but it covers a large area.
To improve the connection between the “Innovation Corridor” and West Dayton, the city plans to improve Third Street west to James H. McGee Boulevard, Germantown Street almost to McGee, and Stewart Street from the Great Miami River to Interstate 75. The federal funds would be used for lighting, walkways, dedicated bike lanes, trees to calm traffic, resurfacing of roads, the removal of brick pavers on Main and Third streets, the replacement of some concrete sidewalks with planters, and more.
Dayton has been working on the “Innovation Corridor” for over a decade, and the current grant would help complete the project. The city has already improved parts of South Main, Brown and Warren streets, Springfield Street, and other areas since 2010. No bridge work is planned if the federal funds are secured, as city bridges on Stewart, Washington, Fifth, and Third streets have been completed in the past 15 years.
The city’s application for the grant is due on Tuesday, and the Dayton-Montgomery County Port Authority trustees have approved $15,000 to support a cost assessment of the project by Beavercreek architecture, engineering, geospatial, and strategic consulting firm Woolpert. Port Authority Executive Director Joe Geraghty said that the grant would look to improve the existing roadways, walkways, lighting, and other features around the pathway to Main, Patterson, and connecting out to the West Dayton Incubator out on Third Street.
Chris Lipson, a senior development specialist for the city of Dayton, said that the city is committed to submitting a “competitive application” for the grant. He acknowledged that the grant is a significant amount of capital and that the city is competing against larger cities and communities. However, Lipson said that the city has a shot at receiving the grant and is learning a lot in the process of building relationships that will allow some of the work to go forward, whether or not they receive the grant. He added that there is a lot of federal money available that the city wants to pursue in the next few years.
The RAISE program funded 166 projects nationwide out of more than 1,000 applications in 2022. The program is designed to help communities complete freight and passenger transportation infrastructure projects. Weinel expects there will be over 1,000 applications this year for the grant, making it a very competitive grant.