Dear Campaign Partner,
Since the passage of MAP-21, which takes a step backward for trail, walking and bicycling interests, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) has been pursuing a strategy to ensure that resources for walking and bicycling ("active transportation") in the new law are maximized. Working together, we can make the most of funding opportunities in MAP-21.
At the national level, RTC conducted two webinars in July. The first focused on what the new law says regarding active transportation, and how advocates might respond. The second tackled likely implementation scenarios. We hope you were able to join one or both. Although we are still in the process of posting some of the webinar content, the webinar slides and recordings, as well as state-specific resources, are now available.
We are currently working with USDOT to ensure sound and timely federal guidance to states and regions responsible for implementing the new law. Meanwhile, however, it is your local and state efforts that will ultimately determine our success under this new law.
See below for our recommendations regarding key state decisions that will, typically, be made very soon and actions you can take to influence them. As strong local and state advocates, you are best placed to convince states of the overwhelming need for core walking and bicycling programs to be fully funded. RTC will continue positioning our movement to improve upon MAP-21 in the future and create new opportunities to build trail and active transportation systems.
Vice President of Policy and Trail Development
Immediate Action Needed:
The Coalition for Recreational Trails—the national umbrella group of trail organizations that promotes and defends the Recreational Trails Program (RTP), and which RTC’s Sr. Vice President of Federal Relations Marianne Fowler co-chairs—is circulating a national organizational sign-on letter encouraging governors not to opt out of the state’s RTP.
Governors have until September 1, 2012, to sneak out of this key program, so please sign your organization on to the letter now at the International Mountain Bicycling Association’s website.
Recommendations to state DOTs during August/September*:
1. Maintain funding: Continue the state’s investment in trails, walking and bicycling at (or above) currently allocated levels. Your state can do this by:
- Not opting out of the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) (see above);
- Not transferring away the half of Transportation Alternative funds available to "any area of the state;" and
- Supplementing Transportation Alternatives funds with infusions from flexible funds, such as the Surface Transportation Program. It would take about a 30 percent increase in the Transportation Alternatives allocation to restore available funds to current levels.
2. Honor existing projects: Most states have a pipeline of projects that have been approved but not yet built. Make sure your state honors their commitment to all previously awarded Transportation Enhancements (TE), Safe Routes to School (SRTS), and RTP projects. As always, it is advantageous to spend any leftover SAFETEA-LU funds as soon as possible—stale funds are always at risk. Supplementing (see the third bullet under 1. above) also may be necessary.
3. Run quality programs with a sense of urgency: It is critical that states move quickly to establish effective grant programs at the state level using the new MAP-21 rules and assist Transportation Management Areas (large MPOs responsible for administering Transportation Alternatives funds within their borders) in setting up timely, local grant competitions. It is important that states commit sufficient administrative resources to ensure program success, with special attention to retaining the expertise and experience of TE managers, SRTS coordinators and state trail administrators. The new MAP-21 rules take effect on October 1 and, with only a two-year bill, it won’t be long before there is scrutiny of how well states and regions have performed.
* States determine their own timeframe. Some have already moved forward. We suggest that you get a sense of the timing of these decision in your state to guide the tempo of your advocacy.