November 2022 marks the first anniversary of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and we are celebrating by unveiling our new Transportation Alternatives Program tracking tool!
Safe Routes Partnership has tracked the implementation of the Transportation Alternatives program since the program was created in 2012. We strive to maintain continuity in how we track in order to provide comparison across years, though with landmark transportation reauthorization bills that change core components of the programs, we have had to update our tracking tools accordingly. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law made significant improvements to the Transportation Alternatives Program, so we have updated our tool to reflect to those changes. We want to make sure you understand why and how to use the new State of States spreadsheet. Brand new to our State of the States Quarterly Transportation Alternatives Implementation Tracking? Here’s an explanatory blog post updated for 2022 that walks through each column, what it means, and what to do with the data.
What’s new this year?
- Tracking “new” money and “old” money separately - The biggest change is that we are tracking the BIL money separately from the FAST/MAP-21 money. Why? We wanted to give states a clean slate. Prior to BIL, states could transfer up to half of their TAP funds to other uses, and we tracked every dollar transferred out of the program. Under BIL, states must first hold a TAP competition* before transferring funds to other uses, and we wanted everyone to be able to clearly see that because it is a sign that advocates and practitioners need to take action.
- Tracking obligations for projects and technical assistance separately –
Projects: This is similar to what we’ve tracked in the past. Here we are looking for states to maintain an obligation percentage above 65 percent, which means they are obligating money at a rate that will avoid lapsing.
Technical Assistance: A new provision of the BIL allows states to use up to five percent of their TAP funds for “technical assistance”, which can be used to staff the program, staff a Safe Routes to School coordinator, conduct outreach about the program, help potential applicants apply for the program, support project delivery, and more! As a completely new provision, we are interested in seeing if states take advantage of it, and if they do, which states do so.
- Note that the provision requiring states to hold a TAP competition before they transfer funds out of the program also requires them to provide technical assistance to any applicants that request it.
A note about obligation percentages: while we tried to make the split between “old” (pre-FY22) funds and new (FY22-on) funds as cut and dried as possible, the fact that states have four years to obligate funds before they lapse means that it’s possible (and even likely) that the “percent obligated” in the blue column under BIL FY22-Present actually includes some of “old” funds. However, we are not able to parse out which year's funds were obligated.
What about Legacy Safe Routes to School funding?
Legacy Safe Routes to School funds refer to the federal funds each state received from 2005-2012 for Safe Routes to School programs. We continue to monitor state spending of legacy Safe Routes to School funds. Because many states have fully expended these funds and the states with remaining funds are making slower progress spending them down, we expect to update this on an annual basis. That said, you can always reach out to us and ask for a status update on your state! For our most recent analysis, visit.