America Bikes Resources

Analysis of the New Transportation Bill, MAP-21

Congress passed a new federal transportation law, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), in June of 2012.

While the new law significantly cuts available funding for biking and walking projects, this legislation presents an opportunity for Americans to encourage state and local governments to fully utilize available funds to make biking and walking safer and more convenient. 

This is America Bikes’ complete analysis of the biking and walking portions of MAP-21. Originally written shortly after the law’s release in June of 2012, it has been updated multiple times to reflect new information. Most recently, America Bikes updated this analysis to incorporate interim guidance from the Federal Highway Administration of the US Department of Transportation.

For more information on MAP-21 — including ways to get involved in your community — visit americabikes.org/map_21

Click here to download this analysis as a PDF. (Updated 10/26/12)

Table of Contents

Programs
Funding and State Opt-Out
Eligible Uses

Program Mechanics: Grant Program
Program Mechanics Flow Chart
Mandatory Sidepath Clause
Frequently Asked Questions

 

Programs

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2012 MAP-21

3 distinct programs with their own funding and mechanics for distribution

  • Transportation Enhancements
  • Safe Routes to School
  • Recreational Trails

Transportation Alternatives combines the following programs:

  • Transportation Alternatives (formerly Transportation Enhancements)
  • Safe Routes to School
  • Recreational Trails
  • Some road uses

Analysis

By combining the three main programs that funded biking and walking projects, planners and local communities lose the specific mechanisms for funding. In order to take full advantage of these programs, applicants and advocates must learn the new system and nomenclature.

Because the funding mechanism will be completely new, it will take US DOT and State DOTs some time to get this new program up and running.

*Note: The new bill refers to both the overall funding program and the newly eligible uses for the former TE program by the same name — Transportation Alternatives. In this document, we refer to the overall program as the Transportation Alternatives Program and the smaller projects category as Transportation Alternatives projects.

This distinction is not in the law itself. 

Funding and State opt-out

The new bill represents a significant reduction in funding for biking and walking projects. 

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2012 MAP-21

In fiscal year 2011, the combined funding for Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes  to School, and Recreational Trails was $1.2 billion — less than 2% of all transportation funding. 

The combined funding for Transportation Alternatives Program for all uses will be approximately $800 million per year.** Nationally, Transportation Alternatives will make up $808.76 million in fiscal year 2013 and $819.90 million in fiscal year 2014.

Each state’s TA funding is determined by dividing the national totals among the states based on each state’s proportionate share of fiscal year 2009 Transportation Enhancements funding. 

State opt-out / transfer:

States could transfer up to 10-15% of Transportation Enhancements funds to other programs. 

Safe Routes to School funding was non-transferable. 

State opt-out / transfer:

States can transfer up to 50% of Transportation Alternatives Program funding to any other uses without explanation. States may only transfer the funding that would be made available to local entities through a state-run competitive grant program. States may not transfer TA funds that are distributed through suballocation by population. For more information, see Program Mechanics: Grant Program.

US DOT’s interim guidance stipulates that a state may transfer TA funds to the National Highway Performance Program (NHPP), the Surface Transportation Program (STP), the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program (CMAQ), and/or Metro planning program. 

In a state of emergency, states can transfer 100% of Transportation Alternatives Program funding to rebuild damaged highway infrastructure. 

  • If the state receives reimbursement for State of Emergency damages through an additional appropriation, it must be repaid to the Transportation Alternatives Program. 
Through the Coburn opt-out, if the unobligated balance of the Transportation Alternatives Program exceeds 100% of a one-year allocation, everything over that 100% can be used for CMAQ uses. 

Federal share:

Under SAFETEA-LU, the federal Safe Routes to School projects was one of the rare transportation programs in which 100% of a project’s costs could be paid by federal funds, without a local match. For Transportation Enhancements and Recreational Trails projects, federal funds covered 80% of a project’s costs and local entities paid 20% of the costs. . 

Federal Share:

Due to its consolidation with Transportation Alternatives, Safe Routes to School projects will now fall under the same match requirements as most other transportation projects—80% federal funding with a 20% local match.

Projects that previously fell under Transportation Enhancements and Recreational Trails remain subject to the 80% federal and 20% local funding breakdown. 

Analysis

Overall, the amount of funding has been cut by 33%. If all states fully exercise their opt-out, the new bill will represent a 66% cut in funding.** 

The state opt-out provision is a major blow to funding levels. A state that chooses to opt out can use this funding for any program with no additional restrictions. Even a state DOT that cares about biking and walking may be tempted to have unrestricted funding for highway uses. 

Keeping this funding for biking and walking will require significant advocacy at the state level. 

Unfortunately, the US Department of Transportation’s interpretation of MAP-21 determined that Safe Routes to School projects will not continue to be 100% federally funded. This alteration is an especially harsh blow for low-income communities in need of safer streets around schools that have few local funds to support needed projects. 

The transferability of funds makes the Coburn opt-out virtually meaningless. 

**Note: In our original analysis, America Bikes had found that funding for Transportation Alternatives would come to $702 million per year, representing an overall funding cut of 42% and a 70% cut if all states exercise the opt out. Upon further review, America Bikes found that available funding will actually be $792 or $808 million, representing a 33% cut overall and a 66% cut if all states opt out. 

Eligible Uses: Transportation Enhancements 

Transportation Enhancements projects are now called Transportation Alternatives projects.  

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2012 MAP-21

Transportation Enhancements

Dedicated funding:

  • 10% of Surface Transportation Program funds (1% of total transportation funding)
  • $878 million in 2011

Eligible activities:

  1. Bicycle and pedestrian facilities
  2. Bicycle and pedestrian safety and education activities
  3. Acquisition of scenic easements and scenic or historic sites
  4. Scenic or historic highway programs (including the provision of tourist and welcome center facilities)
  5. Landscaping and other scenic beautification
  6. Historic preservation
  7. Rehabilitation and operation of historic transportation buildings, structures, or facilities (including historic railroad facilities and canals)
  8. Preservation of abandoned railway corridors (including the conversion and use thereof for pedestrian or bicycle trails)
  9. Inventory, control and removal of outdoor advertising
  10. Archaeological planning and research
  11. Environmental mitigation to address water pollution due to highway runoff or reduce vehicle-caused wildlife mortality while maintaining habitat connectivity
  12. Transportation museums

Transportation Alternatives projects

Dedicated funding: 

  • No dedicated funding. These projects are eligible for funding under the larger Transportation Alternatives Program. 

Eligible activities:

  1. Construction, planning, and design of on-road and off-road trail facilities for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other nonmotorized forms of transportation, including sidewalks, bicycle infrastructure, pedestrian and bicycle signals, traffic calming techniques, lighting and other safety-related infrastructure, and transportation projects to achieve compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
  2. Construction, planning, and design of infrastructure-related projects and systems that will provide safe routes for non-drivers, including children, older adults, and individuals with disabilities to access daily needs.
  3. Conversion and use of abandoned railroad corridors for trails for pedestrians, bicyclists, or other nonmotorized transportation users.
  4. Construction of turnouts, overlooks, and viewing areas.
  5. Community improvement activities, including-
    • inventory, control, or removal of outdoor advertising;
    • historic preservation and rehabilitation of historic transportation facilities;
    • vegetation management practices in transportation rights-of-way to improve roadway safety, prevent against invasive species, and provide erosion control; and
    • archaeological activities relating to impacts from implementation of a transportation project eligible under title 23.
  6. Any environmental mitigation activity, including pollution prevention and pollution abatement activities and mitigation to-
    • address stormwater management, control, and water pollution prevention or abatement related to highway construction or due to highway runoff, including activities described in sections 133(b)(11), 328(a), and 329 of title 23; or
    • reduce vehicle-caused wildlife mortality or to restore and maintain connectivity among terrestrial or aquatic habitats.

Analysis

In the new program, the changes to the safety and education activities (numbers 1 and 2 above) remove eligibility for education and safety activities. However, non-infrastructure projects to encourage safe walking and bicycling to school for kindergarten through eighth grade are still eligible as Safe Routes to School projects.  

The eligibility for construction of turnouts is to make up for the loss of the Scenic Byways program, and some uses were covered under the original program. 

In the new law, eligibilities regarding scenic or historic highway programs, landscaping and beautification, historic preservation, rehabilitation of transportation buildings, and preservation of historic railway corridors are reworded. Transportation Alternatives funds can now only be used for archaeological activities if the projects are transportation-related. 

Scenic easements and museums were deleted as eligibilities. Rehabilitation of historic buildings is now combined with historic preservation. 

Environmental mitigation — eligibility #6 in the new program — was expanded from the specific uses in current law to include ANY environmental mitigation, including NEPA compliance. Adding ANY environmental mitigation allows funding from the Transportation Alternatives Program to be directed towards federal environmental requirements previously not allowable under Transportation Enhancements. Because of the local control aspects of the bill, local governments are less likely to use this funding for NEPA compliance.

Eligible Uses: Safe Routes to School

Safe Routes to School is eliminated as a stand-alone program, but the program language is still in the bill. 

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2012 MAP-21

Safe Routes to School

Dedicated funding:

  • $182 million in 2011

Features:

  • Stand-alone program including separate and specific funding processes for stakeholders
  • States must spend 70-90% of program funding for infrastructure and 10-30% for non-infrastructure
  • Funded a full-time state Safe Routes to School Coordinator

Safe Routes to School

Dedicated funding:

  • No dedicated funding. 

Eligible activities: 

  1. Infrastructure-related projects-planning, design, and construction of infrastructure-related projects on any public road or any bicycle or pedestrian pathway or trail in the vicinity of schools that will substantially improve the ability of students to walk and bicycle to school.…
  2. Noninfrastructure-related activities to encourage walking and bicycling to school.
  3. Safe Routes to School coordinator. 

Analysis

We believe that a state can choose to run a state Safe Routes to School program as-is, but the funding would need to come from their overall transportation dollars. Because it references current Safe Routes to School law, the ability to fund both infrastructure and non-infrastructure is retained. The state Safe Routes to School Coordinator position is eligible, but not required. 

Eligible Uses: Recreational Trails Program

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2012 MAP-21

Recreational Trails

Dedicated funding:

  • Dedicated funding based on recreational fuel tax
  • Roughly $85 million per year

Features:

  • Stand-alone program with 20% local funding match 
  • Funds obligated for specified trail uses
  • 30% motorized trails, 30% non-motorized, 40% multi-use trails
  • Administered through DOT and state DNRs

Recreational Trails

Dedicated Funding:

  • Level funding 

Features: 

  • Governors can opt out each year if they contact the Secretary of the US DOT 30 days prior to apportionments
  • The program is eligible under the Transportation Alternatives Program
  • Projects are also eligible under the Surface Transportation Program

Analysis

If a governor does not opt out, this program will continue to function as it does in current law. It will be important for advocates to ask governors to keep the program. 

Governors have the option to opt out each year.

Eligible Activities: Other

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2012 MAP-21

Other eligible activities

N/A

Other eligible activities

Planning, designing, or constructing boulevards and other roadways largely in the right-of-way of former Interstate System routes or other divided highways. 

Analysis

The new types of road projects that are eligible under the Transportation Alternatives Program could consume an entire state's budget for one or more years. 

The local control aspects of this transportation bill make it less likely that a project of this large scale could compete for the limited available funds. 

Program Mechanics: Grant Program

This is the part of the program amended by the Cardin-Cochran agreement

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Grant Program

Each program had its own method for distribution of funds.

For Transportation Enhancements, most states could set up the grant program.

For Safe Routes to School, most states held statewide competitions, but a few used regional distribution or state-managed implementation.  

Grant Program

All funds must go through a grant program. The bill limits which entities are eligible to apply.

50% of Funding by Population

DOTs must distribute funds according to the share of population within the state

  • For areas with a population over 200,000, funds will be sub-allocated to MPOs. The MPOs must then run a grant competition within its area 
  • For areas with a population between 5,000 and 200,000, the state will distribute funds through a competitive grant program 
  • For areas with a population under 5,000, the state will distribute funds through a competitive grant program

None of these funds may be transferred by the DOT.

50% of Funding by Grant Program

The DOTs are required to run a grant program to distribute the other 50%. Only eligible entities may apply. State DOTs are not eligible. 

State DOTs may transfer all of this pot to other highway uses. If they do, there will be no grant program.

Eligible Entities

N/A   

Eligible Entities

  1. Local governments
  2. Regional transportation authorities
  3. Transit agencies
  4. Natural resource or public land agencies
  5. School districts, local education agencies, or schools
  6. Tribal governments
  7. Any other local or regional governmental entity with responsibility for or oversight of transportation or recreational trails (other than a metropolitan planning organization or a state agency) that the state determines to be eligible, consistent with the goals of this subsection. 

Analysis

While the final bill retains the half of Cardin-Cochran that suballocates half of funds to MPOs and local areas, it allows states to opt out of the half of TA funds that are made available to local entities through a state-run competitive grant program.

By requiring a competitive grant program and limiting the entities allowed to apply for that funding, this provision is written to limit the amount of funds going to large-scale state priorities like roads and NEPA compliance.

Suballocating 50% by population ensures that local communities of all sizes will get a share of TA funding. 

The MPO competition ensures that entities within an MPO area can apply for a share of MPO funding, and ensures the state DOT is not the sole decision-maker on funding priorities.

The 50% of funding distributed by a state-run grant competition is at significant risk given the full transferability of its funds.  Advocates will need to work to ensure that states retain these funds.

Eligible entities in the new bill were defined to ensure that current users of the three biking and walking programs could continue to benefit. State agencies are not eligible to apply for Transportation Alternatives Program funding.

The below chart illustrates how biking and walking funds will be distributed under the new law.

 

3levels_graphic.png

Mandatory Sidepath Clause

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Mandatory Sidepath Law

None 

Mandatory Sidepath Law

Bicyclists are prohibited on federally owned roads that have a speed limit of 30 miles per hour or greater if there is an adjacent paved path for use by bicycles within 100 yards of the road, unless the Secretary of the relevant federal land management agency determines that the bicycle level of service on that roadway is rated B or higher.  

Analysis

Mandatory sidepath laws were once common in state vehicle codes. They said that when a road has a separate bike path or bike trail, bicyclists must use the path and not the road.

By moving to ban bicyclists on certain non-highway roads, this clause could set a dangerous precedent for federal bike policy.

This provision was first included in the Senate transportation bill without the addition of the Bicycle Level of Service clause. The addition of this clause now means that states can have some “out” to enforcing the law and that advocates have an opportunity to demonstrate that the restriction should not apply to their roads.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are the bicycle and pedestrian and Safe Routes to School Coordinator positions still required?

The Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator positions are still required by law.

The Safe Routes to School Coordinator positions are eligible for funding under the Transportation Alternatives program, but are not required.

2. Is there funding for the Bicycle and Pedestrian Information Center, The Safe Routes to School National Center, and the National Transportation Clearinghouse?

The bill does not fund any of these. US DOT may be able to fund these.

3. Is there still a Mandatory Sidepath law for bicyclists on Federal Lands?

Yes. Unfortunately, the following provision was carried over from the Senate bill:

(d) BICYCLE SAFETY­ The Secretary of the appropriate Federal land management agency shall prohibit the use of bicycles on each federally owned road that has a speed limit of 30 miles per hour or greater and an adjacent paved path for use by bicycles within 100 yards of the road unless the Secretary determines that the bicycle level of service on that roadway is rated B or higher.

The League of American Bicyclists and Adventure Cycling Association worked hard to get this removed. While the clause itself unfortunately remains, they were able to add the exception for roadways with bicycle level or service B or higher. 

4. Technical correction made to CMAQ

In the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) section of the original text published late Wednesday night/Thursday morning, the ban on using CMAQ funding for single-occupancy vehicle lanes was deleted. On Thursday, Congress published a new version with several technical corrections.

The new version includes a ban on using CMAQ funding for single occupancy vehicle lanes. It is a huge improvement to have that ban back in place.

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