Section 5207 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) established the Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative Research Program (STEP), and authorized $16.875 million per year for FY2006-FY2009 to implement this new program. The general objective of the STEP is to improve understanding of the complex relationship between surface transportation, planning and the environment.
Due to obligation limitations, rescissions and the over-designation of Title V Research in SAFETEA-LU, it is anticipated that approximately $12.8 million of the $16.875 million authorized will be available each year. STEP will also be the sole source of SAFETEA-LU funds available to conduct all FHWA research on planning and environmental issues. In addition, Congress mandated several special studies, i.e., Report on Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program (Section 1807 of SAFETEA-LU) and the Annual Report for the Surface Transportation Project Delivery Pilot Program (Section 6005(h) of SAFETEA-LU). STEP will also be the funding source for these projects. The FY2011 STEP budget totals $14.6 million. The FY2012 funding levels are subject to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) appropriations process. The anticipated FY2012 STEP research efforts are preliminary and subject to change. MAP-21 repealed the STEP Program beginning October 1, 2012. Unobligated balances that remain available from the Program will continue to be administered under the applicable SAFETEA-LU requirements.