Transportation alternatives: highways and bike paths are not alike

Replacing the long-standing Transportation Enhancement, Safe Routes to School, and Recreational Trails programs for which federal money was specifically allocated is the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). It requires states to reserve 2% of their federal highway apportionment for defined alternatives, such as on- and off-road pedestrian and bicycle paths and trails.

Some see the policy as the feds pushing transportation alternatives to be as important as primary transportation. Local agencies are puzzled about stipulations to allocate to urban areas with populations over 200,000 and “non-urban” areas of 5,001 to 200,000 versus previous ways of securing money, like through MPOs. Hale points out that often a bike path is viewed under the same microscope as a major highway project by federal overseers.

Kathleen Davis offers a similar assessment, saying TAP rules restrict a state’s flexibility to allocate funds where cities and counties most need them.

  • Expected carryover to the next federal surface transportation package? Will be heavily debated.

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