Central Massachusetts Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program
The Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC) is administering a grant assistance program for small businesses in Central Massachusetts impacted by the closure and losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant program is funded by the Massachusetts Office of Attorney General Maura Healey, through the  Small Business Relief Partnership Grant Program . CMRPC was awarded $45,000 to distribute funds to small businesses in Central Massachusetts.

Applications are now being accepted on a rolling basis through the  Central Massachusetts Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program , administered by CMRPC.

For the purposes of this grant, a “small business” shall mean any for-profit business or non-profit organization with a physical place of business within one of the forty communities within the CMRPC service area with twenty or fewer employees prior to Governor Baker’s state of emergency declaration (on or about March 10, 2020). All applicants will be required to demonstrate a direct or indirect financial hardship resulting from COVID-19.

For more information on eligibility and the application itself, visit this link.  https://www.cmrpcregionalservices.org/aggrant .


For any inquiries please contact Ron Barron, rbarron@cmrpc.org.
Annual CMMPO Environmental Consultation
The Annual CMMPO Environmental Consultation, hosted by the CMRPC staff will take place on August 19 th, from 10AM – 12PM. Due to COVID-19, the meeting this year will be held virtually, via Zoom, to ensure the safety and involvement of all interested parties. The Consultation gives staff and other environmental stakeholders a space to convene and discuss a range of environmental activities associated with the planning region’s Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) , and the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) Mobility2040 . The TIP is a document that specifies federal-aid projects and available funding for a period of five years. These projects include highway, bridge, interchanges, intersection improvements, transit and others. Similarly, the LRTP is a broad-based multi-modal/intermodal performance-based document that looks out over a 25-year future timeframe.

This year the Environmental Consultation will have a focus on stormwater mitigation and culverts. To build off of this, various expert speakers have been invited, as well as other local officials to share their experiences with environmental mitigations and culverts, along with presentations on climate resiliency benefits through culvert replacements. More details are anticipated in the August newsletter.

Above all, the Annual Environmental Consultation session is an opportunity for all interested parties to meet and gain valuable insights on pertinent evolving topics. Below you will find information related to the Zoom meeting.

Environmental Consultation Zoom Link:

New to Zoom?
The following document contains a series of instructional videos to help guide you through Zoom from downloading the app to joining a meeting for the first time.

Do you have any further questions or need additional information? Contact Zachary Blais, Assistant Transportation Planner, at zblais@cmrpc.org
Join the Transportation Management Association Advisory Committee 
CMRPC was awarded a MassDOT Workforce Transportation Grant to explore the opportunities to develop a Transportation Management Association (TMA) in the Central Massachusetts region.

A TMA is an entity, private, public or a combination of both, that provides transportation services in a specific area tailored to facilitate access to jobs.  A TMA can also provide the institutional support for the implementation of Transportation Demand Management (TDM) strategies. TDM strategies include ridesharing, parking management strategies, commute trip reduction strategies (like telecommuting), pedestrian and bicycle improvements, and land use planning and coordination with residential complexes, among other strategies.

With more than 17 TMAs in the Commonwealth serving more than 400 employers in 52 cities and towns, our region is orphaned of transportation alternatives tailored to access jobs while reducing single-occupancy vehicle (SOV) trips. Another benefit from a TMA is the ability to support low income commuters by providing accessible options and closing the inequality gap of longer commutes based on housing affordability versus the location of well payed jobs.
 
Staff is looking for interested stakeholders to be part of the TMA Advisory Committee. Together the advisory committee will seek to better understand the perspectives from employees, employers, and job seekers, and determine how desirable an alternative is for each of these groups. Moreover we will analyze the viability and feasibility of the alternatives considered by the Advisory Committee. 
 
For more information about the project, please visit: www.cmrpc.org/tma . You can also contact Yahaira Graxirena ygraxirena@cmrpc.org for more information.
Resilient, Strong & Ready: Spotlight on Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness in Uxbridge
Within the CMRPC region, Towns like Uxbridge have worked hard to leverage Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program (MVP) grant funds to assess local climate change risks, and develop plans to meet their needs. Uxbridge has been awarded two MVP Action Grants to-date. In 2019, the Town was awarded $288,904 to complete an Integrated Water Infrastructure Vulnerability Assessment and Climate Resiliency Plan. In 2020, Uxbridge received an additional $256,926 for an Integrated Vector-borne Disease Control Program.
 
As the Town wraps up their FY 2019 MVP Action Grant, the Project Team will host a virtual Public Forum on Thursday, July 16, from 7 – 9:30PM. Uxbridge has recently concluded a Town-wide, integrated water infrastructure vulnerability assessment which addressed water infrastructure, water transportation systems (culverts and bridges), dams and impoundments, public and private water supply wells, and stormwater. The assessment further included a review of local bylaws with consideration for green infrastructure and nature-based solutions. Grant activities were led by environmental consultants from Fuss & O’Neill, Inc. in partnership with Resilient CE, CMRPC and an MVP Task Force consisting of representatives from the Uxbridge Board of Selectmen, Board of Health, Department of Public Works, Police Department, Fire Department, Council on Aging, Conservation Commission and School Department.
 
The project team encourages residents and other stakeholders from Uxbridge and neighboring communities to attend the 90-minute event to learn of the Vulnerability Assessment findings, to ask questions of the Town, Fuss & O’Neill and CMRPC, and to provide local knowledge and feedback. Project information including maps, documents, and outreach materials are available online at www.ResilientUxbridge.org .    A pre-recorded presentation on the project approach and findings will also be made available on the project website beginning July 11 th .
 
For more information or to submit comments to the project team, please contact Fuss & O’Neill Project Manager Julianne Busa ( jbusa@fando.com or (413) 452-0445 ext. 6119) or Kristin Black, Uxbridge Health Director ( KBlack@uxbridge-ma.gov ).
WRTA and COVID-19: Increase Service, Social Distancing, and Continue Suspension of Fare Policy
Effective Saturday, June 27 th , the WRTA announced that current service levels on certain routes will increase in response to incremental ridership demand. Starting Saturday, June 27 th , Routes 7, 11, 19, 23, 24, 26, 27, 29, 30, and 42 will resume their regular Saturday schedule, and continue to operate on their regular Sunday schedule. Routes 1, 2, 4, and 5 will continue to operate on their Sunday schedule for both Saturdays and Sundays. All remaining routes will not operate Saturday, or Sunday service.

Starting Monday, June 29 th , Routes 7, 11, 19, 23, 24, 26, 27, 29, 30, 33, and 42 will resume their regular Weekday schedule. All remaining routes will continue to operate on a modified Saturday schedule. Routes 8, 12, 14, 25, and the Westborough Shuttle will not operate service until further notice.

In response to COVID-19 and significant reductions in ridership, from March 25 th until June 26 th , all Weekday routes were running on a Saturday schedule, except for certain routes. All Saturday and Sunday routes were operating on a Sunday schedule. WRTA monitors ridership levels daily and has seen monthly increases systemwide from April forward.

To improve air circulation within the bus, all passengers will board the bus through the front door and exit the bus through the rear door only. Front door exiting will continue to be available for customers with accessibility needs. To support social distancing onboard WRTA vehicles, certain seats have been designated as ‘closed’ and ‘not in use’ and are marked with notices to reflect that the seat is closed for social distancing.

The WRTA will continue the temporary suspension of fare policy until further notice.
ADA complementary paratransit service remains unchanged currently. Local Council on Aging service varies by community, with some CoA’s that are currently closed are planning to resume operations in the upcoming weeks. 
WRTA Wants to Hear from You!
The WRTA is in the process of updating its Comprehensive Regional Transit Plan (CRTP) and is seeking your input. As part of the public outreach process, WRTA wants to hear about the current and future public transportation needs of Central Massachusetts. A survey is available on the WRTA website , and your feedback is essential to the five-year CRTP planning process. Even if you are not a current passenger of the WRTA, tell us why not!

The survey will be available online through early August and is available in English, and Spanish. Additional translations or other accommodations can be made upon request to WRTA.

CMRPC is the Regional Planning Agency for the City of Worcester and 39 Surrounding Municipalities in Southern Worcester County. Our mission is to improve the quality of life for those who live and work in the region.
If you have any questions about the newsletter, please contact  jpierce@cmrpc.org or 508.756.7717.