Take Action: Keep up the momentum for more federal funding for biking
The Transportation Alternatives program accounts for almost half of all federal funding for bicycling and walking infrastructure, and it’s currently capped at $850 million per year – for the entire country. In March, attendees at the 2019 National Bike Summit asked Congress for improvements to the TA program that would make biking better… and they were successful! In April, the Senate introduced a bill that would not only increase funding for bicycling and walking by $350 million or more a year, but also would make it possible to get projects implemented faster. Thousands of people like you contacted your senators and asked them to support more and better places to bike and walk.
To make sure these important changes to TA are passed and implemented in your community, we need to get the same changes into the House bill.
Just before Thanksgiving, Reps. Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) and Rick Larsen (WA-2) introduced HR 5231, the Transportation Alternatives Enhancements Act to help communities like yours build better bicycling and walking infrastructure, like trails, pedestrian and bike bridges, sidewalks, and other projects that connect us with where we want to go.
How TA works now
For a refresher on how TA works now: it’s 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|
|States can transfer 50% of TA funds||States must first run a competition for projects and offer technical assistance before certifying there are no qualified applications||This makes sure the program is consistent with the goal of getting TA funds to local governments for local priorities|