The Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) is a region’s approved list of specific transportation projects mandated by federal law. It serves as a multi-year financial schedule for obligating federal funds to state and local transportation projects. The TIP contains funding information for all modes of transportation including bicycle and pedestrian projects. State, regional and local transportation agencies typically update the TIP each year to reflect priority projects in their long-range transportation plans.
The TIP represents an agency's intent to construct or implement a specific project and the anticipated flow of federal funds and matching state or local contributions. Transportation projects are not eligible for federal or state funding unless it has been listed in the TIP.
I can hear you thinking, “This is a pretty dry subject. What’s the point?”
Well, through our work with the regional network project, we have highlighted the important role of Regional Transportation Plans (RTPs), but we are also realizing that TIP is another very important tool in furthering bicycle and pedestrian projects.
The development of the TIP requires consensus among state and regional officials, and one means for reaching consensus is scoring projects submitted to the TIP. A region’s project evaluation criteria shape the types of projects that get added to the TIP. We are finding that influencing the elements on the evaluation criteria impacts the types of projects added to the TIP. Despite fiscal constraints, this approach gives life to bicycle and pedestrian projects.
For example, the Nashville Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) modified the way their “Project Evaluation Criteria” to prioritize projects that included an active transportation element. As a result, they have realized a significant increase in transportation projects submitted to the TIP that include bicycle and pedestrian elements.
There are other examples across the country, and these particular examples are specific to the regions that are part of the regional network project:
- Although still a draft, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is revising their evaluation criteria, providing a greater emphasis on multi-modal projects.
- Bicycle and pedestrian projects comprise a significant portion of the application and evaluation criteria at the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG).
The increasing prioritization regional governments are giving to bicycle and pedestrian projects bodes well for continued infrastructure improvements even in this time of tight budgets.