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RTA accepting applications for Community Planning program

January 20, 2021

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Joint Call for Planning Assistance open through Wednesday, February 3

The RTA is partnering with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) to issue a joint Call for Planning Assistance for high and very high need communities.

Since 1998, the RTA has offered technical assistance to municipalities in the Chicago region to address local planning needs at the intersection of public transportation and land use. That assistance has translated into $23 million invested in more than 200 projects across six counties. Read the most recent Community Planning Implementation Report to learn more about the program’s impact.

CMAP and the RTA have separate technical assistance programs, but applicants simply need to apply once. The online application is available through Wednesday, February 3.

Every community in the region has felt the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and municipal budgets are strained now more than ever. In light of these challenges, the RTA is committed to offering support for communities that need it most. The RTA will accept applications in four different categories, described below. Learn more about the types of projects and timeline for applications on the RTA website.

High and very high need communities are defined based on four factors: population, median household income, tax base per capita, and percent of population located in an economically disconnected or disinvested area. Read more about the methodology for determining community cohorts in a CMAP Policy Brief.


  • Active Mobility and Curb Management Plans: The RTA will assist municipalities in planning for balancing the needs of increased deliveries, personal mobility, gathering space, bicycle and pedestrian areas, parking, and more along roadways in a particular community, all while preserving and protecting the use of transit.
  • Developer Discussion Panels: Both CMAP and RTA will facilitate panels of developers that will meet with communities to outline needs, goals, and incentives early in the redevelopment of a particular parcel to offer potential strategies and provide a realistic outlook for the future.
  • Special Funding Districts: The RTA will help municipalities with planning for an economic development funding district such as a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district, Special Service Area (SSA), or Business Improvement District (BID) by assessing the community’s needs, identifying the potential district, and supporting the process to propose and enact such a district.
  • TOD Zoning Code Updates: The RTA will work with local government staff to create development standards and review processes that make investment in the community more attractive to potential developers, business owners, and residents seeking to improve their property. Zoning updates can be completed for an entire municipality, sub-area, for a specific TOD area, or for a specific section of the ordinance.

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