On July 6, 2012 President Obama signed a new Federal Transportation Plan, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, otherwise known as MAP-21. This is a two-year transportation plan effective October 1, 2012. The major change from the previous transportation plan (SAFETEA-LU), is that the three separate programs, Recreational Trails (RTP), Transportation Enhancements (TE or CTEP) and Safe Routes to School (SRTS) have been combined into a new program called Transportation Alternatives (TA).
Unfortunately, this new program comes with several provisions that could limit funding for bicycling and walking, such as:
- Montana has incurred a 38% decrease in funding under the new Transportation Alternatives Program (from $9.3 million in FFY 2012 to $5.8 million in FFY’s 2013 and 2014). Since Montana did no ‘opt out’ of the Recreational Trails Program the funding level for that program will remain the same at $1.5 million.
- Provisions give the state DOT options for transferring out up to half of the available funds for Transportation Alternatives.
- There are new eligibilities for things like environmental mitigation and boulevard construction.
View the funding flow chart for more clarification.
Other key points of Transportation Alternatives include:
- All funds must be awarded through a competitive grant process.
- These activities will no longer be eligible:
- Safety and educational activities for pedestrians and bicycles
- Acquisition of scenic easements and scenic or historic sites
- Scenic or historic highway programs (including visitor and welcome centers)
- Historic preservation as an independent activity unrelated to historic transportation facilities
- Operation of historic transportation facilities
- Archaeological planning and research undertaken for proactive planning. This category now must be used only as mitigation for highway projects
- Transportation museums
- Allocation of SRTS funds for Infrastructure and Non-infrastructure activities are not allowed (because there’s no apportionment).
- It is now optional to have a State SRTS coordinator, not required.
- The National SRTS Clearinghouse will no longer be funded.
Eligible Project Sponsors who will be able to submit applications for project funding include:
- Local governments
- Regional transportation authorities
- Transit agencies
- Natural resource or public land agencies
- School districts, local education agencies, or schools
- Tribal governments
- Any other local or regional governmental entity with responsibility for or oversight of transportation or recreational trails (other than a metropolitan planning organization or a State agency) that the State determines to be eligible, consistent with the goals of this subsection.
- RTP and SRTS keep their own lists of eligible sponsors.
What is Bike Walk Montana doing about MAP-21?
Through meetings and letters, we have asked and will continue to ask the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) and the Governor to:
- Fully fund, staff, and implement the new Transportation Alternatives program.
- Fully maximize the state’s investments in safe, accessible streets: utilize each MAP-21 funding programs — including HSIP, CMAQ, and STP — to include biking and walking in all transportation projects.
- Fully spend remaining funds from the existing Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School, and Recreational Trails programs
We are also building a strong Montana coalition to come together as one unified voice to advocate for continued funding for bicycling and walking. Not only is this important now on a statewide level to protect the funding we have been allocated under MAP-21 but it will become critically important when it is time to pass a new Federal Transportation Bill in 2014.