Do you know how your favorite trail was funded?
Federal funds have helped build many trails across the country, and as America’s advocate and voice for these essential projects, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy keeps a close eye on the programs that make them possible.
The Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP)—known as Transportation Enhancements (TE) until 2012—lives within the federal transportation bill, MAP-21, and is the largest source of federal funding for trails, and walking and biking programs in America.
In 2014, Congress apportioned $738.3 million to the states under TAP for transportation projects like rail-trail conversions, sidewalks, biking facilities, historic preservation of transportation facilities, etc., as well as projects eligible under two other federal programs: the Recreational Trails Program and the Safe Routes to School Program.
Every year, the Transportation Alternatives Data Exchange at Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (TrADE @ RTC) compiles a spending report that provides transparency and valuable comparisons for people interested in transportation policy. This report breaks down the funds apportioned by state, as well as the funds states spent on projects that qualify for reimbursement (obligations) through TAP.
“Citizens, transportation officials and legislators can see how every penny was spent,” says Kevin Mills, senior vice president of policy at RTC. “The record makes clear that TAP provides outstanding bang for the buck in improving every state and district in America. We also see which states have gained the most by making TAP a priority."
Here are a few highlights from RTC’s findings this year:
- A significant chunk of TAP funds go to walking and biking; 97 percent of TAP funds have gone to active transportation under MAP-21.
- Wyoming, Delaware and Rhode Island are top implementers, with Indiana and Minnesota close behind.
- “Most improved” is Massachusetts, which had a five-year cumulative obligation rate of 110 percent in 2014, compared to 39 percent in 2011.
For more information, read RTC’s press release on the report.
To see how state funding compares, download the full report on the TrADE website.
The mission of the Transportation Alternatives Data Exchange at Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (TrADE @ RTC) is to track Transportation Enhancements (TE) and Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) implementation. TrADE provides a web-accessible database and annual report on national and state-by-state funding and expenditures. Through TrADE, RTC’s goal is to make TAP the most accountable and transparent transportation funding source in the United States. Visit the TrADE website to access our data and publications.