Photo courtesy Green Lane Project | CC by 1.0

As enthusiasm for walking and bicycling continues to grow, many communities are at a tipping point. Advocates and local communities have built trails and bike lanes and sidewalks—but the fragments are disconnected, and the gaps in the networks prevent people from accessing the places they need to go safely and conveniently.

The Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) and the Safe Routes to Schools (SRTS) Program have been the backbone of support for individual walking and bicycling projects for more than 20 years. However, with more communities applying for limited resources, traditional funding sources are not always enough to complete a network.

Photo courtesy Green Lane Project | CC by 1.0

Congress has created a breakthrough financing tool for communities ready and willing to connect and accelerate the completion of their trail and active-transportation networks. Because this is financing rather than grants, it won’t be the right tool for every community, but for those ready and willing to invest in their future, these reforms can provide inexpensive money to hasten the timetable for a community to become more attractive, walkable and bikeable.

Five reforms to the TIFIA (Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act) Program, the first four which were secured by RTC in the FAST Act passed by Congress, together make TIFIA useful for trail and active-transportation networks:

  1. Lowering the minimum project size for projects involving local governments to $10 million;
  2. Allowing bundling of segments of a network into one project to meet the threshold;
  3. Allowing State Infrastructure Banks to use TIFIA funds to make financing more available to rural projects;
  4. Streamlining the application process to lower transaction costs; and
  5. Providing up to $2 million in application fee waivers for projects less than $75 million in total cost.

Congress has given USDOT until June 2016 to issue guidance interpreting the new law, and RTC has submitted comments proposing ways to streamline the process. In the meantime, the TIFIA office is open for business, and we encourage interested communities to prepare for how they will use this financing tool in their community.

Resources

Learn more about TIFIA and building complete active-transportation networks with the resources below.

Links

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Questions about TIFIA? We can help you determine if TIFIA is the right tool for your project and help you navigate the TIFIA process with USDOT. Contact RTC today.

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