Cherry Creek Regional Trail | Photo by TrailLink user angiedickson
The Transportation Alternatives (TA) program is the nation’s largest dedicated source of funding for trail and active transportation projects. The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) allocates funding to states where state departments of transportation and metropolitan planning organizations administer their own competitive process and deal directly with applicants.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law authorizes nearly 70% more money for the legacy Transportation Alternatives Program (which includes the Recreational Trails Program) from $850 million to an average of $1.44 billion per year. This vital funding is less likely to be diverted to unrelated purposes as the new law constrains such transfers. In addition, the law allows states to use up to 5% of available funds for technical assistance to administer grants and assist local governments in applying.
- Administered By: FHWA allocates funding to states, and state DOTs and MPOs administer the program.
- Type: Formula funding
- Year Created: 1992 as Transportation Enhancements
- Also Known As: Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside (TASA) (2018 – present), Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) (2013 – 2017), Transportation Enhancements (TE) (1992- 2012)
The following are eligible project sponsors or applicants:
- Local governments
- Regional transportation authorities
- Transit agencies
- Tribal governments
- Other local or regional government entities
- Nonprofit entities (can partner with any eligible entity)
The following project types are eligible for funding:
- Pedestrian and bicycle facilities
- Safe Routes for Non-Drivers
- Conversion of Abandoned Railway Corridors to Trails
- Scenic Turnouts and Overlooks
- Outdoor Advertising Management
- Historic Preservation and Rehab of Historic Transportation Facilities
- Vegetation management
- Archaeological Activities
- Stormwater Mitigation
- Wildlife Management
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s (RTC) Transportation Alternatives Data Exchange (TrADE) is the nation’s go-to transportation funding data source for trails and active transportation, tracking TA spending for tens of thousands of projects.
Wisconsin’s Oak Leaf Trail | Photo by Front Room Media
If you are in an urbanized region with a population more than 200,000, your metropolitan planning organization can provide guidance on their application process. For all other areas, your state DOT can provide information and guidance on their application process.
Explore RTC’s resources to understand how your state typically spends its Transportation Alternatives funding.
Tapping into Federal Funding: Five Trail Tales of Success: https://www.railstotrails.org/trailblog/2020/may/28/tapping-into-federal-funding-five-trail-tales-of-success/