June 30, 2016

Partly sunny

County transit seeks money from NOACA

Medina County officials are hoping to get additional transportation funding through the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency.

The county already has received nearly $470,000 from NOACA for Medina County Public Transit’s 2014 operating budget, including a $46,750 New Freedom grant.

Those funds helped the county make up a funding gap that was created when the Ohio Department of Transportation reclassified Medina County as an urban transit system beginning in 2014.

Urban systems get more federal funding for equipment and facilities but less to subsidize daily operations.

Cutbacks to service from that shortfall include on-demand routes that serve many handicapped residents.

Medina County Commissioner Stephen D. Hambley said NOACA had money left over in its budget and decided to make it available for further transportation funding.

More than $615,000 in New Freedom funds is available during this application cycle.

“We intend on applying for that,” said Hambley, who represents the county at NOACA. “It’s one option we have for the expansion of our ADA route.”

NOACA is accepting applications through Jan. 17 for the New Freedom program. The federal program supports new or expanded public transportation services for individuals with disabilities beyond what is required by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Those eligible for the grant include private nonprofit organizations, state and local government authorities, and public and private operators of public transportation services in the Cleveland Urbanized Area, which includes most of Cuyahoga County and parts of Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage and Summit counties.

“These funds are meant to improve transportation for individuals with disabilities and older adults, including transportation to and from jobs and medical facilities,” NOACA Executive Director Grace Gallucci said. “These are groups that often have significant, unmet transportation needs.”

Hambley said groups like Faith in Action will benefit from any money the county obtains through the New Freedom grant.

Faith in Action is a faith-based charity group that provides volunteer drivers to take immobile patients to medical appointments out of town, using vehicles leased from the county. Hambley said the group is in need of two newer vehicles.

A map of the eligible areas and the application are available on NOACA’s website, noaca.org/index.aspx?page=151.

An application also may be obtained by calling Meredith Davis at (216) 241-2414, ext. 350, or Kelley Britt at ext. 211. The deadline to submit applications is 4 p.m. Jan. 17.

NOACA’s coordinated plan is available on its website. The agency is a transportation and environmental planning agency that represents state, county, city, village, and township officials. NOACA addresses the transportation, air quality, and water quality needs of Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain and Medina counties.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.