The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has called for applications for the next cycle of its competitive, multimodal Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program (formerly known as TIGER under the Obama administration and BUILD under the Trump administration). This round promises to be your best chance yet for $5-25 million to build your trail and other active transportation connections, or a big planning grant to get your regional system ready.
RELATED: FEDERAL GRANTS RAISE THE BAR FOR ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION INVESTMENTS
A rapidly growing cadre of communities of all sizes and types have inspiring plans to make it safe, convenient and enjoyable to walk or cycle to everyday destinations like shopping, schools and jobs, or even to connect to the neighboring town. In a quick survey of partners, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) uncovered more than $7 billion in projects to connect trails and active transportation infrastructure, making travel safer and more convenient for travelers. pedestrians, cyclists and wheelchair users.
Achieving these plans would be transformative, making our communities safer, healthier and cleaner, as well as more equitable and prosperous. To achieve this transformation, communities need considerable grants to fill the gaps between existing sidewalks, bike lanes and multi-use pathways to create seamless connections between homes and workplaces, schools, stores, transit, services, parks and more.
Existing sources of public funding for active transportation infrastructure are essential for building individual projects just about anywhere, but they are often too small and diffuse to build connected networks in a reasonable timeframe. The best solution would be to provide federal grants directly to communities to rapidly expand their systems. The Active Transportation Infrastructure Investment Program, authorized by the bipartisan Infrastructure Act passed in November, is the ideal vehicle for this, but it will not be implemented until it receives credit. federal budget. Securing fiscal 2023 funding to launch this program is a top priority for RTC.
In the meantime, communities will need to be resourceful to move their networks forward. Fortunately, now is the time to ask for the next best federal option to address the need for focused investments to connect active transportation infrastructure. RAISE offers the possibility of receiving up to $25 million for a transportation project with significant local or regional impacts. USDOT is accepting new applications through April 14 to be considered for the $1.5 billion available in this round of RAISE grants.
RELATED: OVERVIEW OF RTC INCREASE OPPORTUNITIES
While program priorities and scale are on target for major active transportation connectivity projects, RAISE puts active transportation in direct competition with roads, bridges, transit, and ports for dollars. rare and extremely competitive. However, this cycle represents the best opportunity yet to successfully obtain a grant for trails and active transportation networks, because:
- The odds of getting funding for trails, walking and biking vary with the political winds. Current USDOT policymakers are very sensitive to the safety, fairness, and climate benefits of these projects. The latest round of grants in November marked unprecedented success for the trails, which received $183 million in funding and 19% of total funds awarded. Comprehensive street safety measures received another 21% of the total. Together, investments related to walking and cycling safety accounted for 40% of the total amount granted!
- Changes to the judging criteria will help trails and other active transportation investments rise to the top. Notably, the bipartisan Infrastructure Act added “mobility and community connectivity” to the criteria for RAISE, and core USDOT decision-making values will include safety, fairness, and climate. Quality of life and environmental sustainability are also priorities. USDOT has a new road safety strategy that recognizes the importance of safe and connected routes. Equity is defined as reducing the burden of transportation costs and barriers to opportunity. Showing how your network will help address these priority issues, including providing data where appropriate, will increase your competitiveness.
- There is more money to be had. A total of $1.5 billion in grants are currently on the table, 50% more than last year. Additionally, significantly more funding could be granted this year depending on the outcome of the FY2022 appropriation process.
In the future, there should be a dedicated source of concentrated grants for trail and active transportation networks. In the meantime, the conditions are exceptionally favorable to compete for the multimodal RAISE grants. PSTN and FHWA offer resources to help you apply.
The bipartisan infrastructure act includes some changes to familiar programs and adds new funding opportunities for trails and active transportation. RTC resources offer the most up-to-date information to help you identify potential federal funding opportunities suitable for your trails and active transportation projects and take the steps necessary to successfully apply for these opportunities.