Dear 2010 Campaign Advocate,
As you have probably heard, the economic recovery package signed into law on Tuesday, Feb. 17 includes $800 million or more* for Transportation Enhancements (TE), the nation’s largest funding source for trails, walking and bicycling.
While this is less than two percent of transportation funding in the recovery package, this represents more than a doubling of TE spending for communities in the next year. Thank you to those who submitted projects that helped Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) demonstrate the ready-to-go nature of so many active transportation projects nationally.
There are several important steps local advocates can now take to ensure the best possible outcome of these dollars:
Push for quick spending
- Fifty percent of a state’s recovery funds (including TE) must be spent within 120 days of the date of apportionment to the states, and the remaining 50 percent must be spent within one year of that same date. Funds that are not spent within these timeframes will be rescinded (and re-allocated to states that followed these stipulations—another reason for expediency).
Build highest impact projects first
- Doing so demonstrates that active transportation positively benefits communities and makes the case for more active transportation funding in reauthorization and other opportunities. Where possible, these projects can and should draw from 2010 Campaign for Active Transportation case statements to make a down payment on your future active transportation systems.
- Unlike TE allocated through SAFETEA-LU, TE funds from this recovery bill have no federal matching requirement. However, there is no guarantee that states will not require a match on their distribution of funds. Therefore, please consider whether there is any action you should take to ensure that your state allocates TE funds match-free.
- Projects that can be completed within three years and are located in economically distressed areas (as defined by the recovery package) have priority.
- Of the total for highways, 30 percent must go to urbanized areas. This portion is exempt from the 120-day rescission.
- By contacting RTC with your experiences in discussing recovery funds with your DOT, you allow us to monitor activity on a national scale and provide best practices or address challenges as necessary.
As more information is constantly being made available on the distribution and allocation of these funds, RTC and national partners are developing a strategy to maximize TE obligations. Therefore, please stay tuned for more information and opportunities to engage your state as we solidify these next steps.
* This is an updated figure as of February 20, 2009, reflecting new instruction from USDOT that slightly reduces the amount originally thought available to Transportation Enhancements.