Sidewalks, crosswalks, and trails are among the small projects eligible to receive funding through a federal grant program that is currently accepting applications for DC and will soon be open for applications from localities in Maryland and Virginia.
The Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside (TA Set-Aside) Program provides federal funds for small-scale projects such as pedestrian and bicycle facilities, safe routes to school (SRTS) projects, streetscaping, and community improvements, and environmental mitigation. These kinds of projects are considered “alternatives” to traditional highway construction. The TA Set-Aside, which is part of the Federal Surface Transportation Block Grant Program, was previously known as the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) and that name is still commonly used in some states.
For our region, the TPB works with the state DOTs in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia to solicit applications for the program and to select projects for funding. Under federal law, the TPB is responsible for choosing projects for a sub-allocated portion of TA Set-Aside funding for each state. For FY 2019, the TPB allocated approximately $5.13 million for projects in the three states.
The TPB administers its role in this program as a component of its Transportation Land-Use Connections (TLC) Program, which is best known for providing technical assistance for small planning studies. A variety of projects supported through TLC have gone on to receive TA Set-Aside funding. One such project is for a multi-use path in Frederick’s Golden Mile area. Building on the previous planning and design work funded by TLC, the TA Set-Aside funding will provide 100% of the design for a path of 1.25 miles along US 40 that will improve safety for pedestrians and bicycles.
Other TLC projects that later received TA- Set-Aside funding include bikeshare facilities in Reston, pedestrian improvements in Arlington for people with disabilities, and new connections in Georgetown between the Capital Crescent and C&O trails.
For the next rounds of funding, the TPB continues to encourage past recipients of TLC assistance to consider seeking TA Set-Aside funding. In addition, the TPB has also asked that whenever possible, TA Set-Aside applications show how they support policies highlighted in Visualize 2045, our region’s recently adopted long-range transportation plan.
The next solicitation periods for TA Set-Aside applications have been scheduled as follows:
- District of Columbia: March 26 – May 17, 2019
- Maryland: April 15 – May 15, 2019
- Virginia: Pre-applications: May 15 – July 1, 2019; Applications are due October 1, 2019
(Note: Pre-applications are mandatory for the first time in Virginia. Also, please note that Virginia is now on a two-year funding cycle.)
The following entities in the TPB’s planning area are eligible to apply: local governments (county, city, or town); regional transportation authorities; transit agencies; natural resource or public land agencies; school districts and agencies. Nonprofits are eligible to partner with any eligible entity on a project, if state or local requirements permit. Applications must meet all federal requirements for the program, including providing a minimum 20 percent match.
For more information, contact:
John Swanson is a TPB transportation planner. He works on public engagement activities and programs that promote walkable and bikeable communities.