We at the Safe Routes Partnership hope 2022 is off to a happy, healthy start for you and your communities. We celebrated the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) late in 2021, and now we are here to help you take advantage of the positive policy changes and new money included in the law. To learn more about the details of what’s in the law for walking, bicycling, and Safe Routes to School, we have an explanatory blog post and a webinar. We know it’s a lot to wrap your head around, so here are a few tips for making the most of this new law:
- There is so much more money for Safe Routes to School, walking, and bicycling! Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) funding will increase by ~60% to $1.38 billion in 2022 and will increase each year up to $1.49 billion in 2026, a ~70% increase. Across all five years, this is a $2.5 billion increase for sidewalks, bike lanes, Safe Routes to School, and improvements to support walking and wheeling. Re-visit priority projects, visit your state DOT’s website to learn about when the next Transportation Alternatives competition will be held, and read through application requirements and guidance to get prepared to apply for funds.
- The Transportation Alternatives Program was improved to require states to consider people and communities that could benefit most from investments in walking, bicycling, and Safe Routes to School. The BIL requires state DOTs to define and prioritize high-need communities in TAP. Learn about how states are currently doing this in Investing in Health, Safety, and Mobility: A Report on State Funding for Walking, Bicycling, and Safe Routes to School Appendix A
- Everything that could be funded by TAP under the FAST Act can be funded by TAP under the BIL. Since TAP project eligibilities remain the same*, state departments of transportation should continue to administer the Transportation Alternatives program even while FHWA is writing guidance. *There is some expanded eligibility, like Safe Routes to School programs and projects can now benefit high schools and new entities are eligible to compete, including small MPOs, and all nonprofits.
- Congress likes Safe Routes to School and wants the program to continue. Safe Routes to School programs, both infrastructure and non-infrastructure, are now eligible for high-schools. Consider how you can grow your Safe Routes to School programs to include high schools and include projects benefitting high schools in future TAP grant applications.
- Projects funded by Transportation Alternatives Program still require a non-federal share/local match, but there is new flexibility offered by the law. Learn about new flexibility and creative ways to meet that match.
- Meet at project or program level: for states administering the program, note that the average non-federal share/local match can now be met at the program level rather than the project level. This provides flexibility to average the total across all projects funded by the Transportation Alternatives Program.
- State funding: does your state have its own funds it can use as local match? Investing in Health, Safety, and Mobility: A Report on State Funding for Walking, Bicycling, and Safe Routes to School Appendix B details states that use state funding to make the non-federal share/local match requirement for walking, bicycling, and/or Safe Routes to School projects.
- Toll credits: several states use toll credits as the non-federal share/local match for projects funded by the Transportation Alternatives Program. Learn more about toll credits and how states are using toll credits as the match for Safe Routes to School programs.
- Federal safety money: the BIL allows for Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) funds to serve as the non-federal share/local match for Transportation Alternatives Program. This decision is up to a state DOT and offers the ability for TAP-funded projects to be done entirely with federal money.
We are here to help you understand what is in this new law and how it can support you to start, strengthen, and grow Safe Routes to School programs and walking and bicycling generally. Throughout the year, you can expect more blog posts, webinars, fact sheets, and infographics to that end. Let us know what questions you have and what types of tools would be most helpful for you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org