Good Things in Threes: Cycle 3 of California AT Program Means $84 million for Trails

Posted 03/30/17 by Yamelith Aguilar, Laura Cohen in America's Trails, Building Trails

City of Roseville trail in California | Photo courtesy City of Roseville

The California Transportation Commission (CTC) recently announced the results* of California’s Active Transportation Program (ATP) Cycle 3 funding awards—and it’s good news for trails in the amount of $84.1 million.

The ATP was created by the California Legislature in 2014 with a number of specific goals: increasing the proportion of biking and walking trips in California; increasing mobility and safety for non-motorized users; reducing greenhouse gas emissions; improving public health; and ensuring that disadvantaged communities fully share in the benefits of the program.

While there is still huge unmet need, the ATP has funded more than $900 million since the program’s inception to create more bikeable, walkable communities across California and is making great strides in achieving its goals.

Huge Demand for Active Transportation Infrastructure in California

In this third cycle of the ATP, $261 million has been approved, and the CTC received more than 450 applications requesting more than $900 million in funds—demonstrating the strong demand for bicycle, pedestrian and trail improvements statewide. Trail projects or projects including a separated bikeway component represent 27 percent of the total applicants that competed for funding (123 applications).

As reflected in the final funding decisions—which breaks down into three project categories, including Statewide, Small Urban and Rural, and large Metropolitan Planning Organizations—trails competed well, garnering about 32 percent of all funding. The Small Urban and Rural component funded the highest proportion of trails (41 percent), followed by the MPO share (35.5 percent) and the Statewide share (28 percent).

City of Roseville trail in California | Photo courtesy City of Roseville

Funded Projects in Cycle 3

The ATP program reflects the unique diversity of the state, and includes projects in rural, suburban and urban regions from San Diego to Humboldt. Here is a preview of some of the new trail projects made possible by the latest ATP awards:

  • The Dry Creek Greenway, a 4.25-mile multi-use paved trail in the City of Roseville, which will be a valued transportation and recreation asset for bikers, walkers and other non-motorized travelers.
  • The Santa Cruz Coastal Rail Trail, a planned 31-mile rail-trail that will connect over 50 percent of the county’s population to 92 parks and 44 schools. Cycle 3 funding will fund the design and environmental review of segments 8 and 9 of the rail-trail.
  • The Midtown Fresno Trail: A 17-mile loop connecting central Fresno through Clovis and on to North Fresno and reaching more than 50,000 residents. Funds will close a 0.5-mile “last-mile” gap in the Class I Trail, including a paved path, drought tolerant landscaping, irrigation, signage and paint/lane striping.

Check out the California Transportation Commission website for the complete list of projects recommended for funding by the ATP this cycle.

Creating Active Transportation Networks

Santa Cruz Coastal Rail-Trail Route | Photo Courtesy Santa Cruz County Friends of the Rail & Trail

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) Western Regional Staff continue to be closely engaged in shaping the ATP and are currently working with our partners in the California Bicycle Coalition on a proposal to focus part of the ATP program on larger, concentrated investments to a few communities to create active transportation networks. The idea is to provide larger grants—perhaps in the $15-25 million range—to a jurisdiction to fund a package of interconnected biking and walking improvements to improve connectivity.

We know that creating connected systems of trails, bikeways and walkways—making these modes of transportation convenient, accessible and efficient—is the key to success in creating healthy, vibrant communities.

During Cycle 2, RTC’s Western Regional Office served as a consultant to the California Department of Transportation, providing technical-assistance training workshops to help disadvantaged communities successfully compete for ATP funds. More recently, RTC along with the Local Government Commission, California Walks and the California Bicycle Coalition launched the Active Transportation Resource Team (ATRT). The ATRT will assist low-income communities in the Central Valley and Inland Empire to translate active transportation goals and policies into on-the-ground improvements ready for implementation.

More details on the overall funding footprint and potential impact of all three cycles of the ATP will be coming soon, so be sure to check back for updates!

*San Joaquin County is finalizing its program decisions and will be reporting on the results in May 2017.

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