Greater Washington, DC Transportation Alternatives Program Implementation

Christine GreenWe have all been waiting to learn how the new federal transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, or MAP-21, will be implemented. The new Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) is of particular interest since it now includes Safe Routes to School and Transportation Enhancements funding. In the Greater Washington, DC region, we have our answer.

For regions over 200,000 people, the TAP has two competitive grant processes, one at the state level and one at the regional level. The Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is the designated entity to host the regional competitive grant. Since Greater Washington, DC is larger than 200,000 people, our MPO, the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB), is the designated regional coordinator for TAP.

The TPB took an important step when setting up the TAP by coordinating with the states. In Greater Washington, DC, that includes Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. For both the state and regional TAP competitive grant processes, there will be one application and one timeline. Having one application and deadline for both the regional and state TAP reduces confusion for local municipalities and school districts. The TPB must deal with some differences for each state but I think all applicants are thankful they are dealing with that internally.

The TPB will appoint an application committee with representation from all the jurisdictions in the region and experts on the eligible projects to decide the regional grants. State grants will be decided at the state level. The TPB has set the priorities for regional funding as:

•    Complete streets
•    Bike and pedestrian facilities
•    Recreation trails
•    Safe routes to schools
•    Stormwater management of highway runoff
•    Historic preservation of transportation facilities

I look forward to seeing the end results. For now, I am trying to get the word out about how Safe Routes to School projects can take advantage of this funding!