By Cindy Wolff, CommercialAppeal.com
June 21, 2012

Memphis and three suburban Shelby County cities are vying for $3.5 million in federal grant money that will spruce up roads and streetscapes.

The state is reviewing 73 applications asking for a total of $52 million from the federally funded Transportation Enhancement Program. The state will distribute $12 million this year, according to Nichole Lawrence, Tennessee Department of Transportation spokeswoman.

The grants have been used in the past to build sidewalks, bike and pedestrian trails and to renovate historic train depots and other transportation-related structures, according to TDOT.

Memphis is seeking funds for three projects totaling $1.5 million. The projects are “Hwy. 61 Blues Trail Designation and Signage,” “Walker Avenue Streetscape” and “Wolf River Greenway.”

Among suburban cities, Arlington is seeking $571,850 for a “Bike and Pedestrian Connector,” and Millington wants $700,136 for “Navy Road Pedestrian Enhancements.”

In Collierville, officials are seeking $756,846 to fund a project called “Collierville Center Connect.” The money would be used to upgrade Center Street to improve mobility for bicyclists and walkers and create gateways to the historic Town Square.

“We want to create a visual link on that side of the town that connects with the improvements under way on Highway 72,” said Jaime Groce, Collierville town planner.

The project would cost $946,058. If the town is awarded the federal grant, it would have to chip in a 20 percent local match, or about $189,211.

State Sen. Mark Norris, R-Collierville, wrote a letter of support to Gov. Bill Haslam for the Collierville application.

Final project selections and awards will be announced later this summer or early fall, Lawrence said.

More than $200 million has been distributed by TDOT to 180 communities through the 21-year-old federal program.

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