This week, Senators Cardin (D-MD) and Wicker (R-MS) introduced S. 1098, the Transportation Alternatives Enhancements Act. We applaud them for their leadership on this key funding program for Safe Routes to School, biking and walking projects and programs across the country. This legislation proposes increasing funding for TAP as well as a number of changes that would give local governments more flexibility and speed implementation of funded projects.
Sen. Cardin is a long-time champion for biking and walking, and along with the former Sen. Cochran (R-MS), negotiated the compromise that created TAP and saved federal funding for biking and walking. Sen. Wicker is a senior Republican who particularly focuses on policies that advance economic development and improve health. Both Sens. Cardin and Wicker are members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that is charged with reauthorization surface transportation, and so are well-positioned to push for these changes to TAP.
The Transportation Alternatives Enhancements Act includes all of our key priorities for TAP for the transportation reauthorization, including:
- Increase funding by 40 percent and allow it to grow each year as other transportation spending grows.
- Shift more money to local governments by increasing the proportion of TAP that is allocated by population from 50 percent to 67 percent.
- Give large metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) the ability to obligate TAP projects (i.e. get the projects built) and let small MPOs compete for TAP funding.
- Give states more flexibility on the required local match by allowing federal safety money to substitute in as the local match and letting states average the match across all projects, meaning that each individual project wouldn’t have to meet the 20 percent match.
- Let states use up to 5 percent of TAP funding to support staff and technical assistance, which should help more communities submit successful applications and get projects built more quickly.
We are also grateful to the many national organizations that have endorsed S. 1098, demonstrating that the Transportation Alternatives Program is supported by a wide array of local government organizations, health and safety nonprofits, and transportation and planning organizations.
- League of American Bicyclists
- Safe Routes Partnership
- National Association of Regional Councils
- National League of Cities
- US Conference of Mayors
- America Walks
- American Diabetes Association
- American Heart Association
- American Planning Association
- American Public Health Association
- American Society of Landscape Architects
- Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals
- Lakeshore Foundation
- National Association of Chronic Disease Directors
- National Recreation and Park Association
- National Complete Streets Coalition
- Safe Kids Worldwide
- Safe States Alliance
- Sierra Club
- Transportation for America
- Trust for America's Health
- YMCA of the USA
As mentioned in our prior federal update, the Senate is moving quickly on its transportation reauthorization push, so the timing for introduction of S. 1098 is perfect.