The city of Austin and the U.S. Department of Transportation signed an agreement Feb. 28 to establish billions in funding opportunities to support the transportation and infrastructure projects slated in Central Texas over the next decade, said Lauren Ramirez, public information and marketing manager for the Corridor Program Office in a press release.

Similar agreements have been established between USDOT and state entities, but this is the first agreement between USDOT and a municipality, she said.

“The Emerging Projects Agreement creates a great opportunity for Austin to try new ideas for accelerating mobility projects in a manner that also respects our community values,” said Austin Mayor Kirk Watson.

The agreement allows for project planning, procurement, financing and delivery to support projects such as Project Connect, a partnership between the city of Austin, Austin Transit Partnership and Capital Metropolitan Transit Authority to expand and improve the public transportation network for the entire region at $7.1 billion; Corridor Construction Program, which involves the study, planning, design and construction of transformative safety and mobility improvements on roadways throughout Austin at $3.6 billion; Austin Bergstrom International Airport Expansion and Development program at $4 billion; the I-35 "Cap and Stitch" program, which involves new freeway caps and community stitches along eight miles of the corridor at $963 million; and the Roadway Extensions, Connections and Capacity Improvements Program to enhance safety at $250 million, according to the press release.

“The [Build America Bureau] experts will partner with Austin officials to explore innovative approaches and best practices that can advance projects further into development and construction, so communities benefit sooner from the planned improvements,” said Bureau Executive Director Morteza Farajian. “We are dealing with a large and complicated program of projects that will significantly enhance transportation mobility, resiliency, affordability and safety. To deliver this program effectively and efficiently, we need to form a strong partnership, engage all stakeholders, use innovative approaches and best practices, and take advantage of all tools in our toolbox.”

Ramirez said the bureau and Austin mobility entities will hold a workshop to review project needs and funding solutions in the coming months.

“I commend Austin’s mobility leaders and USDOT for coming together to bring innovative solutions to funding these enhancements," interim Austin City Manager Jesus Garza said.