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.
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:
- Lowering the minimum project size for projects involving local governments to $10 million;
- Allowing bundling of segments of a network into one project to meet the threshold;
- Allowing State Infrastructure Banks to use TIFIA funds to make financing more available to rural projects;
- Streamlining the application process to lower transaction costs; and
- 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.
Learn more about TIFIA and building complete active-transportation networks with the resources below.
- The New Federal Transportation Bill: What Does It Mean for the Walking Movement? Hosted by America Walks
- The FAST Act: Advancing Trails With the New Federal Transportation Bill Hosted by American Trails
- Federal Financing to Build Active Transportation Networks Hosted by USDOT
- TrailBlog: What do changes in the FAST Act mean for trails, walking and biking?
- BATIC Website: The Build America Transportation Investment Center (BATIC) helps interested state, municipalities and project sponsors with their application for a TIFIA loan or other federal credit assistance. The BATIC is your point of entry into the TIFIA process.
- USDOT TIFIA Website: Find all the information you need to know about the TIFIA program, including the official program guide, letter of interest form and application form (please note that the program guide has not yet been updated to include the FAST Act reforms).
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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