Today, in anticipation of the 2020 spring trail season, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) announced the recipients of the 2020 Doppelt Family Trail Development Fund grant program, awarding a total of $100,000 to six impactful trail projects across the United States.
The rail corridor’s new life as the Historic Virginia and Truckee Trail will connect five counties, five cities and six museums. Portions of the trail have already been constructed; Carson City, the state capital, has several miles of the V&T on the ground. And bicyclists ride along much of the old route, without even realizing it, through Washoe and Pleasant Valleys in Washoe County.
On Nov. 12, 2019, the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) awarded substantial grants to support several trail and active transportation projects, as well as multimodal projects with trail and active transportation elements, around the country. These investments rose to the top in the highly competitive BUILD program (or Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Developments), which has taken the place of the popular TIGER grant program as USDOT’s means of funding important transportation projects that otherwise lack sufficient funding from other sources.
This year, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s state policy arm focused on strategies aimed at building financial support for trails, walking and bicycling over the long term, including the creation of advocacy infrastructure that should pay dividends for active transportation for years to come. Here’s a brief snapshot of where we are right now.
Like many states with older transportation infrastructure built on the highway system, New Jersey faces a number of serious challenges related to pedestrian and bicycle safety. Even as the state explores ways to make active transportation safer for citizens, related fatalities are on the rise. This trend illustrates a very real need for the state to rethink its infrastructure and invest in safe routes for people traveling on foot or by bike.
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW Committee) passed the bipartisan America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019, or ATIA, and is making progress more than a year before the FAST Act expires. This gives us optimism at Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) that Congress will be able to come together to invest in a balanced transportation system. But there's still work to be done.
Ten miles of paved pathway now thread through a handful of beloved parks, rolling out along the water’s edge under a canopy of cottonwoods in Wyoming’s second largest city. A momentary pause on the Platte River Trail might yield a glimpse of a pronghorn antelope or mule deer darting through the underbrush, or an eagle or osprey searching for a meal in the river.
New Jersey trails got some great news with an announcement by the Department of Transportation (NJDOT) that more than $27 million has been awarded through the state’s Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) toward improvements to bicycle and pedestrian safety and connectivity across the state.
Not to be outdone, the Senate is also considering the next big transportation bill—and they heard about the need to build trails and active transportation infrastructure loud and clear. Two recent developments are inching proposals for more and better trail funding closer to reality: First, Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) recently supported RTC’s request to fund trail networks and spines; and second, Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) introduced a bill on Tuesday (S. 1098) to improve the current federal program for active transportation.
What will these proposals mean for trails? Here is RTC’s take on these recent developments.
The California Transportation Commission (CTC) recently approved more than $280 million in Active Transportation Program (ATP) funding (Cycle 4) to support 59 trail, walking and biking projects throughout the state, with about half—some $139 million—going to trails and separated bikeway projects (hereafter collectively referred to as “trails”).
This huge investment in trails comes on the tails of a $1 billion increase in ATP funds over the next decade, announced last year with the approval of Senate Bill 1 (SB 1).