Federal Transportation Programs
There are two types of federal transportation funding: forumla funding and discretionary competitve grants. In formula funding, every state gets a percentage based on population, miles of roads and other factors. In discretionary competitive grants, states and local governments compete for funding.
Federal transportation funding flows through a number of transportation programs run by the Federal Highway Administration. While bicycling and walking projects are eligible for all the programs, the majority of our funding comes from just a few. The major changes in the BIL affecting bicycling and walking were Transportation Alternatives, Highway Safety Improvement Program, Carbon Reduction Program and planning.
Discretionary grants are funding programs states and local governments can apply for. The programs are sketched out by Congress and put under the control of the Transportation Secretary. The Secretary and their team then run the grant program and pick the winners.
The BIL gave an unprecedented $100 billion in discretionary grants to the US DOT. Not all those programs affect bicycling and walking, but many do. Some, like Safe Streets and Roads for All, are very focused on bicycling and walking. Others, like the Bridge, rural or SMART grant programs, may offer opportunities to address bicycling and walking access and concerns in new ways. One program, the Railway crossing program, may actually create barriers for bicycling and walking so we’ll be watching the rules of that program as well.
Learn more about the changes to these programs below.