A proposal before the Transportation Planning Board asks for approval to apply for roughly $20 million in TIGER grants to pay for streetscaping and making the land around underused transit stations more accessible for pedestrians and bicyclists.
If approved on Wednesday, the region's planning board would then seek developers as partners in identifying up to six transit stations that are good candidates for transit-oriented development to nominate for funding.
"With each station, there are local planners and developers who are looking at these stations right now," said Ronald Kirby, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments' director of transportation planning.
"We'd like to find one who's been perking somewhat and say, 'We can do this one piece. If you give us $3 million to do this, it'll be part of a $20 million development.' That would be a really powerful application if we could do that."
In total, $527 million was made available in grant money, the third round of TIGER funding, on July 1. The region won $58.8 million for bus transit improvements in the first round of funding. Washington was skipped over in the second round when it applied for money to expand its bike share program.
Kirby said this proposal sought a partnership with developers because the available funding this year makes no allowances for planning and is designated solely for capital projects. Officials hope that providing funding for landscaping and designing the connection between the transit hub and surrounding development will kick start development activity around stations like in Bowie or Huntington, for example.
The proposal includes four other examples of transit stations that are could benefit from this type of funding: Van Ness/UDC Metro station, Rhode Island Metro station, Prince George's Plaza and the new Metro station at Wiehle Avenue in Reston. Officials are seeking funding for between one and two stations each in Maryland, the District and Virginia.
Such development in the region's suburbs would help balance public transit's crowded system during rush hour by attracting job centers outside of the District, Kirby said.
"We could fill some of these empty trains that are running in the reverse direction," he said.