Federal Transportation Funds Benefit Recreation

Federal Transportation Funds for
Snowmobile Trails
Christopher Douwes
Trails and Enhancements
Program Manager
Who is FHWA?
• The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), part of the US
Department of Transportation, provides expertise, resources,
and information to improve the nation’s highway system and
its intermodal connections.
• The Federal-Aid Highway Program provides financial
assistance to the States to construct and improve the National
Highway System, other roads, bridges, and trails.
• The Federal Lands Highway Program provides access to
and within national forests and parks, Indian reservations, and
other public lands by preparing plans, letting contracts,
supervising construction, and inspecting bridges.
• FHWA conducts and manages a comprehensive research,
development, and technology program.
Funding History for Bicycling and Walking
• Until 1991, almost all FHWA funds were for highway
construction, with limits on funding for off-highway facilities.
• The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act
(ISTEA) added eligibility for scenic byways and transportation
enhancements. A technicality left recreational trails unfunded.
• National Highway System Designation Act of 1995 established
limited funding for recreational trails.
• The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21)
of 1998 established full funding for recreational trails.
• The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation
Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) continued
eligibility with a few program improvements.
FHWA Funds for Pedestrian and
Bicycle Projects and Trails
• The Federal Surface Transportation Program is the
largest fund source for shared use paths and trails.
• $790 million in FY 2011 (under 2% of highway funds).
• Pedestrians are 10.5% of trips; bicyclists are 1.0%.
• Pedestrians are 12% of highway fatalities, 67% occur
on Federal-aid highways. Bicyclists are 2%.
• About $200 to $300 million/year for trails, including
$70 to $90 million/year for recreational trails.
• Bicycling and walking benefit economies and health.
Federal-Aid Highway Program Funding for
Pedestrian and Bicycle Facilities and Programs
FY 1992 to 2011 (Millions of Dollars)
$ Millions
Total Obligations
20 0
20 9
20 7
20 6
20 4
20 3
20 1
20 9
19 8
19 6
19 5
19 3
19 2
Fiscal Year
Key Programs Benefiting Snowmobilers
Federal Lands Highway Program
Surface Transportation Program
Transportation Enhancement Activities
National Scenic Byways Program
Recreational Trails Program
Federal Lands Highway Program
• Provides access to and within Federal lands.
• Project decisions made by the Federal land
management agencies in coordination with
local governments.
• Trails are eligible for funding; agencies have
put higher priority on highway access and
safety projects.
• Emphasis on pedestrian safety.
• See http://flh.fhwa.dot.gov/.
Transportation Enhancement Activities
• Transportation Enhancement (TE)
activities expand transportation choices
and enhance the transportation experience
through 12 eligible TE activities that
relate to surface transportation.
• Funding: $927 million available in FY
2011; $550 million obligated.
• Trail projects use about 1/3 of TE funds.
Transportation Enhancement Activities
TE projects must relate to surface transportation and be
eligible under one or more of 12 Eligible Categories:
1) Pedestrian and bicycle facilities
2) Pedestrian and bicycle safety
and education
3) Scenic or historic easements
and sites
4) Scenic or historic highway
5) Landscaping and scenic
6) Historic preservation
7) Historic transportation buildings,
structures, or facilities
8) Rail-trail conversions
9) Inventory, control, and removal of
outdoor advertising
10) Archaeological planning and
11) Mitigate highway water pollution
and wildlife mortality
12) Transportation museums
Transportation Enhancement Activities
• Administered by State DOTs.
• Each State has its own project application and
selection process.
• State requirements may be stricter than Federal.
• States are encouraged to use Youth Corps.
• Website:
• The National Transportation Enhancements
Clearinghouse (NTEC) has project examples and
State contacts: www.enhancements.org.
TE Project Examples
George S Mickelson Trail, South Dakota
Houghton MI Streetscape
Mineral Belt Trail, Leadville CO
More project examples:
Some TE Issues
• TE projects must relate to surface transportation.
• General park projects (acquiring park land, sports fields, picnic
areas, playgrounds, general park amenities, etc.) are not eligible.
• TE projects must meet accessibility requirements.
• Project sponsors must include various interest groups in the
planning and project development process: equestrians and
other trail users, historic preservation advocates, etc.
• Nothing in Federal law or regulation requires trails to be paved.
• Nothing in Federal law or regulation prohibits equestrian use.
• FHWA developed a Framework for Considering Motorized Use
on Nonmotorized Trails.
• USDOT encourages States to use Youth Corps on TE projects,
but few States use them.
Recreational Trails Program
• Funds to develop and maintain recreational trails for
all trail uses.
– Only FHWA program to support routine maintenance
• $85 million available per year.
• Funds distributed by formula to States: see
• Represents a portion of the Federal motor fuel excise
tax paid by OHV users.
• States solicit and select projects for funding.
• States are encouraged to use Youth Corps.
• See www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/recreational_trails/.
RTP Eligible Projects
• Maintain and restore existing trails and bridges.
• Develop and rehabilitate trailside and trailhead facilities.
• Purchase and lease trail construction and maintenance
• Construct new trails (limits on Federal lands).
• Acquire easements or property for trails (willing seller).
• Trail assessments for accessibility and maintenance.
• Trail safety and environmental protection education.
• State administrative costs.
RTP Project Examples
High Bridge Park, New York City:
Inner-city mountain bike trail. Winner
of 2009 Coalition for Recreational Trails
Achievement Award for Environment
American YouthWorks crew building
stairs near Austin TX.
Western Wyoming Avalanche
Education Project: Winner of 2004 CRT
Award for Communication
RTP Project Examples
Agassiz Recreational Trail, Minnesota
Winner of 2010 CRT Award for Construction and Design
Wanoga Snopark Shelter, Oregon
Winner of 2008 CRT Award for Construction and Design
Who can sponsor a project?
• Federal agencies (restrictions in a few States)
• Tribal government agencies
• State agencies
• Local agencies: county, city, town, township,
borough, school, water/sewer district, etc.
• Nonprofit organizations (many States)
• For profit organizations (a few States)
• Project sponsors are encouraged to use qualified
youth conservation or service corps.
Using Federal Funds
Federal funds have Federal requirements.
• Highway requirements: Buy America, competitive
bidding, prevailing rate of wage, design, safety.
• Environmental: NEPA; archaeological, cultural,
and historic; nondiscrimination; endangered species;
public involvement; watersheds and wetlands; etc.
• Planning: Statewide and metropolitan plans and
transportation improvement programs.
• Grant management requirements; allowable costs.
How does project funding work?
• Federally-assisted, State-administered Program.
• Most Federal-aid funds are apportioned to the States
through a statutory formula.
• Project sponsors apply through States or Metropolitan
Planning Organizations (MPOs).
• FHWA has oversight for project compliance with
Federal laws, but does not prioritize projects.
• Reimbursable cost share program, in general: 80%
Federal share / sliding scale, with flexibilities for
Federal agency project sponsors.
How do I get funds for my project?
• Contact your State RTP or TE Administrator: see
or www.enhancements.org.
Develop a workable, realistic project.
Get public support.
Develop funding sources and donations.
Consider youth corps involvement.
Youth Corps: Seek project sponsors. See
www.corpsnetwork.org / Policy / Transportation.
Develop a good design: consider the project setting,
community benefits, user needs, and accessibility.
How do I get funds for my project?
• Consider potential problems:
– Environmental impacts: wetlands, endangered
species, archaeological impacts, etc.
– Permits
– Public opposition: liability, property rights,
safety, environmental impact.
• Complete the project application completely.
• If approved, get to work!
• Submit an invoice to get paid!
• Celebrate success.
Federal Highway Program Update
The Federal Surface Transportation Program has been
extended (8 times) thru March 2012.
• National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study
Commission: http://transportationfortomorrow.com/.
• House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee:
• Senate Environment and Public Works: http://thomas.loc.gov/
• Many interest groups have opinions on Federal-aid highway
program authorization: air quality, bicyclists, climate change,
ecosystems, environment, freight, pedestrians, safety, safe routes
to school, trails, wetlands, wildlife, etc., and organizations with
positions on government activity and taxation policy.
Additional Resources
• TE Guidance:
• RTP Guidance:
• Trail Design resources:
• USDA Forest Service Trail Publications:
• ACSA Resources: www.snowmobilers.org/resources.asp
For more information:
• State RTP Administrator contacts:
• State TE Manager contacts: www.enhancements.org.
• National RTP and TE oversight:
Christopher Douwes
Trails and Enhancements Program Manager
[email protected]
202-366-5013; fax 202-366-3409

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