On July 22, Margo Pedroso and I joined Advocacy Advance to host a webinar reviewing the year since MAP-21 passed. We unveiled a number of new resources, including an interpretation of FHWA’s Final Guidance of the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), an update on states’ progress on TAP, and a publication that provides examples of TAP applications at the MPO level and suggestions for developing the application and guidelines.
MPOs across the country are embarking upon the process to allocate TAP funds competitively. A number of MPOs have initiated their processes, including two that we work with closely through the Regional Network Project – the Transportation Planning Board (TPB) in the Greater Washington, DC region and the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC). Both MPOs are slated to announce awards later this month or in early fall. The ARC prioritized Safe Routes to School among their focus areas, and the TPB’s application identifies Safe Routes to School projects by a single question. The TPB covers portions of Maryland and Virginia as well as Washington, DC, and these states still have funding for Safe Routes to School through SAFETEA-LU so this initial round of TAP applications did not include Safe Routes to School projects. This was not a surprise, and the TPB has plans to encourage Safe Routes to School projects in its next TAP call for applications.
This is a critical time for MPOs to be working on applications, and we’re excited to have the resources noted above to help guide those efforts in order to ensure that communities can continue to capitalize on federal funds for active transportation. The TAP program remains a target of political maneuvering (more here), so it’s imperative that advocates stay engaged at the federal level, too. Despite the threats, the TAP allocations at the MPO level are a new frontier, a whole new way to think about how to enhance our communities from the regional level and make it easier for us to choose walking or bicycling for transportation. We want to be a resource, so let us know how we can help!