monopoly_money.jpgAcross the Bay Area, sites near public transit stops are about to get a little more vibrant thanks to $44 million in capital grants geared toward pedestrian, bicycle and streetscape improvements approved today by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

As part of the agency’s Transportation for Livable Communities program–which was started in 1998 to reshape downtown areas, commercial cores and transit corridors into thriving neighborhoods–cities could apply for up to $6 million in funding for each project.

The largest grant, $4.6 million, was awarded to the city of San Leandro for a pedestrian-oriented project near the city’s downtown BART station.

“Whether in downtown areas or in other neighborhoods, (these) projects help build a sense of community by making it easier and more inviting for residents to use public transit, walk or bicycle,” said Solano County Supervisor and MTC Commissioner Jim Spering, who is credited with launching the program more than a decade ago.

Community groups and local authorities in 17 cities in seven counties–including San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland–developed the 22 approved projects. Thirty-three proposals were submitted.

In Oakland, tree plantings and other landscaping improvements are part of a project that garnered a $2.2 million grant to redesign a segment of Foothill Boulevard, according to MTC spokesman John Goodwin.

Projects in San Francisco, which netted more than $7.3 million, include improvements to South of Market Street alleyways and the 24th Street/Mission BART plaza, Goodwin said.

A new public plaza is also being developed on Phelan Avenue near City College of San Francisco.

Vallejo, Santa Rosa, Hayward, Richmond and San Carlos also received grants.

Since the livable communities incentives began in 1998, the agency has doled out roughly $200 million to develop stronger links between housing and public transit.

The program supports community-inclusive efforts that provide a range of transportation choices and encourage flow between transportation and land uses.

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