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T-DOT Anticipates Cookeville To Gain Urban Designation

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
T-DOT Anticipates Cookeville To Gain Urban Designation

T-DOT has preemptively added Cookeville in its budget to gain urban transit status in 2023. Now they await federal government approval.

Cookeville was listed in T-DOT’s annual three-year transportation program released Thursday. The status means the city would be eligible for federal transit funding.

Deputy Commissioner/Chief of Environment and Planning Preston Elliot said the state department waits for final census data to determine if Cookeville has met the threshold.

“If the US Census Bureau had not changed the criteria, we could have ran the analysis to determine whether if they met the threshold,” Elliot said. “But the new formula is very complicated. It’s not quite possible for us to do that. We don’t have all of the various detailed datasets.”

Elliot said T-DOT included Cookeville, because it anticipates the city might be an urban area. Elliot said the state department wanted to avoid amendments later on if the city met the criteria.

“Indications are that later in the summer we should have that information,” Elliot said. “If they exceed the 50,000 threshold, then we will go through the process of formal designation. That is something that is done by the Governor.”

Elliot said the new formula uses data such as housing density, total population and employment concentration. Elliot said the previous threshold was a population of 50,000 which could be achieved by continuous census blocks that held 1,000 people each.

Elliot said if a transition to urban designation occurs, a variety of federal grants would become available. As far as how much, Elliot said the state department does not know, but it would be an increased amount compared to rural funding.

“What this does is it formalizes it a little more in the context of the requirements they have to meet at the federal level,” Elliot said. “They may be positioned better to go after grants. They may be in a better position to leverage locally some of the resources that they have, and then seek transit funding.”

Cookeville currently receives rural transit funds through UCHRA and some urban state funds since the city’s population is above 5,000.


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