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Help us increase and improve federal funding for biking and walking
Imagine your community with more trails for people biking and walking. Imagine a bicyclist and pedestrian bridge over that major arterial that cuts neighborhoods off from each other. At the 2019 National Bike Summit, advocates asked their senators to support enhancements to the Transportation Alternatives (TA) program that would make it easier for local governments and agencies to fund and implement projects to make biking better.
On Tuesday, Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) introduced the S.1098, the Transportation Alternatives Enhancements Act to help communities like yours build better bicycling and walking infrastructure, like trails, pedestrian and bike bridges, and other projects that connect us with where we want to go.
The bill makes several improvements to the existing Transportation Alternatives (TA) program, which accounts for almost half of all federal funding for bicycling and walking infrastructure, by making TAP funding more available and easier for local governments to access meaning better biking and walking infrastructure for people like you and me.
How TA works now
Get ready to get wonky. Currently, TA is a subsection of the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program (STBGP). Once states receive their allocation, that funding is divided evenly into two pots, both of which must go through a competitive process. The first is a state Department of Transportation competitive process, and the second half is further divided into three pots of money for communities based on population size. This ensures small communities only compete with small communities.
The bill we are supporting would not only increase overall TA funds, it would make a few technical changes to how TA funding is divided up so that it is more equitable across the country. Here is how some of these changes would improve and increase funding to make biking better:
How the change makes biking better
|Funding||Capped at $850 million/year||Change to 10% of the STBGP ($1.2 billion in the first year)||Allows TA funding to grow at same rate as other transportation programs|
|Divided 50%-50% to state DOTs grant process and among state entities based on population||Divided 34%-66% population to state DOTs grant process and among state entities based on population||Ensures more of a funding balance among types of communities|
|State Flexibility||No TA funding goes to the implementation of the program||States may use up to 5% of TA funding to:
||Helps local governments produce strong application and allows states to speed up project review|
|All projects must meet 80% federal/20% local match||Program must meet 80/20 funding ratio but gives DOTs flexibility on individual projects||Allows higher match to low-income/ small communities if balanced with other projects|
|States must use formula||Allows states to suballocate 100% of TA with FHWA approval||Allows states to give more control to local municipalities|
|Local Control||Large MPOs (200,000+) can award projects but not obligate TA funding||Allows Large MPOs to obligate TA funding||Improve obligation rates and takes burden off of states.|
|Small MPOs locked out of program||Makes small MPOs eligible to apply||This fixes a drafting error in the 2012 bill|
Ask your senators to support S.1098 and make biking and walking better in your community.