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Design Snapshot — Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Carefully Prioritizes Stimulus: Strategically Selecting ARRA Transit Projects

Mark Muro and Sarah Rahman

To ensure its one-time ARRA formula allocations would address short-term needs as well as support longer term goals, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority conducted a new agency-wide structured strategic capital planning process to select the most high-impact ready-to-go projects for stimulus funding. This strategic process started with identifying capital needs, refining agency goals through objectives and then prioritizing needs based on the objectives. This prioritization process will also serve as the agency’s new preferred framework for making future capital needs decisions.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) selected projects for stimulus funding based on its long-run strategic capital needs. In September 2008, WMATA released a Capital Needs Inventory (CNI) of over $11 billion over ten years. Anticipating the federal stimulus package, WMATA identified which CNI projects were “shovel ready,” eligible for federal funding, and could not be implemented without additional funds. The resulting list totaled $530 million dollars in capital needs that met the criteria.

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