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Federal grant to pump $32 million into downtown Flagstaff pedestrian safety and infrastructure projects

Flagstaff railroad crossing
Ryan Heinsius/KNAU
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A $32 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation will fund several infrastructure and pedestrian safety projects in downtown Flagstaff including the installation of gates at the railroad crossings on Beaver (pictured) and San Francisco streets.

The federal government will allocate more than $32 million to pedestrian safety and infrastructure projects in downtown Flagstaff. Officials say it’s the largest investment in the city since the construction interstates 17 and 40 decades ago.

Funding for the initiative called the Downtown Mile will come from last year’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Local officials applied to the U.S. Department of Transportation for the competitive grant, which will fund pedestrian underpasses and gates at railroad crossings. It’ll also realign train tracks and enable Milton Road to eventually be widened to six lanes.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says the projects will help Flagstaff modernize its transportation infrastructure.

"The philosophy of this that the solutions, the individual project ideas, don’t all have to come from Washington but more of the funding should. That’s what this program is all about," says Buttigieg.

He hopes the funding will allow goods to move more efficiently, easing supply-chain bottlenecks and lowering inflation. He and Arizona Congressman Tom O’Halleran say it’ll enhance pedestrian safety and encourage more walking and cycling in downtown Flagstaff, and complete the Rio de Flag flood control project.

The City of Flagstaff will contribute $15 million to the Downtown Mile and $11 million will come from the BNSF Railway.

Twenty-six projects nationwide were awarded grants and will split a billion-and-a-half dollars.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.