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2008 State Trail Administrators Meeting

Federal-aid Highway Program Authorization 2009: Summary, Explanation, and Comments from Trails and Enhancements Conferences

Reauthorization Proposals
November 2008

The Federal-aid highway program is scheduled for reauthorization in 2009. Several proposals are being developed. The first section below links to several national proposals. The remainder of this discussion focuses on comments related to the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) and Transportation Enhancement (TE) Activities.

Refocus, Reform, and Renew the National Approach to Highway and Transit Systems in America

On July 29, 2008, the Secretary of Transportation announced a new framework to overhaul the way U.S. transportation decisions and investments are made. See New Approach for America's Transportation Future.

NOTE: Former Secretary of Transportation Mary E Peters announced a new framework for U.S. transportation decisions on July 29, 2008: information was available at www.fightgridlocknow.gov. The content from that website was removed late January 2009. [This section updated January 27, 2009.]

See also:

You may submit comments online through the U.S. Document Management System (DMS) at www.regulations.gov. DMS Instructions: Under the "More Search Options" tab on the right side of the www.regulations.gov home page, click on "Advanced Docket Search." Enter OST-2008-0254 under "Docket ID" and click "Submit." The "Refocus.Reform.Renew" docket will be displayed in the search results. Click on the docket number link on the left and the full docket will be displayed. To submit a comment, click the "add comments" icon on the far right of the Reform Plan document entry. Follow the instructions on that page to submit your comments.

Chair of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee

The Chair of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee issued a Press Release about the DOT proposal.

National Surface Transportation and Revenue Study Commission

The National Surface Transportation and Revenue Study Commission released its Report to Congress on January 15, 2008, entitled Transportation for Tomorrow: Report of the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission. The Congress created the Commission in 2005 because "it is in the national interest to preserve and enhance the surface transportation system to meet the needs of the United States for the 21st century." This report has recommendations for the future of the nation's surface transportation program. See www.transportationfortomorrow.org/. The US Department of Transportation Press Release replying to this Report is at www.dot.gov/affairs/dot0608.htm. (Note: Link inactive as of 11/09.)

According to an analysis from the American Council of Snowmobile Associations:

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials

See State Transportation Officials Set Course for Federal Program Reform (October 24, 2008) at http://news.transportation.org/press_release.aspx?Action=ViewNews&NewsID=197.

Summary, Explanation, and Comments from Trails and Enhancements Conferences

The following section has comments from several conferences related to the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) and Transportation Enhancement (TE) Activities. Current legislation is posted at:

Federal Highway Administration Staff Analysis

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) staff is aware of several legislative adjustments that would improve program delivery for the RTP and TE. FHWA seeks recommendations for:

Federal Share, Payments on Federal Projects, and Donations and Credits

Some sections of statutory law under Title 23 affect the RTP and TE, but some sections conflict with the RTP or TE legislation. Here is an explanation for three sections.

We hope that providing these statutory references will help you understand some flexibilities and inconsistencies in the Federal-aid highway program.

23 U.S.C. 120(k) and (l). Federal Share Payable: (HTML / PDF)
In general, 23 U.S.C. 120 applies to the entire Federal-aid highway program except where there is specific statutory language for a specific program. The RTP, TE, and Scenic Byways have their own Federal-aid requirements, creating conflicts with the broader Section 120, and particularly with §120(k) and (l). FHWA will offer amendments in the next reauthorization to make sure flexibilities available under section 120 also are available to the RTP and TE.

HOWEVER:

Explanation. The original purpose of the Innovative Financing section in Section 1108(b) of TEA-21 in 1998 was to help all Federal agencies (not only Federal Land Management Agencies) to use their funds to match TE funds, which had not been allowed prior to TEA-21. It requires States to have a programmatic match, which means the overall Federal share cannot exceed the State’s normal Federal-aid share. If a State accepts funds from another Federal agency to match TE funds, then the State must find additional non-Federal share for other TE projects.

However, TEA-21 §1115(a) authorized allowing Federal land management agency funds and Federal Lands Highway Program funds to match Federal-aid funds, a more permissive authority than what had existed previously. The two TEA-21 amendments were not coordinated. FHWA will propose allowing full flexibility to use §120(k) and (l) without penalizing TE projects.

23 U.S.C. 132. Payments on Federal-aid projects undertaken by a Federal agency: (HTML / PDF)
This provision allows a State to transfer Federal-aid highway program funds to a Federal agency in advance, which often is required for other Federal agencies (especially for the US Army Corps of Engineers). This provision applies to the entire Federal-aid highway program, including High Priority Projects, RTP, Byways, and TE. A State may allow an advance of funds to a Federal agency, but the State is not required to authorize the advance if it doesn’t want to do so for some reason. Some Federal land management agency staff want advances to be mandatory.

23 U.S.C. 323. Donations and Credits: (HTML / PDF)
This provision allows (with restrictions) donations of property and also donations of funds, materials, or services. It applies to the entire Federal-aid highway program, except where there is specific statutory language for a specific program. Section 323 was amended in TEA-21 and again in SAFETEA-LU to facilitate "soft match" of materials and services. Some FHWA Divisions and State Departments of Transportation are using older program guidance based on TEA-21 rather than the amended provisions from SAFETEA-LU.

Federal-aid Highway Program Reauthorization
Trail and Enhancement Comments from Trail Conferences

National Off-Highway Program Managers (NAOPM), March 2007
Held at the National Off Highway Vehicle Conservation Council Annual Conference
Comments for the Recreational Trails Program

40-30-30 split

5% Education, 7% Administration takedowns

Match

Project eligibility

International Association of Snowmobile Administrators (IASA), June 2007

The following is a summary of comments received from IASA members regarding reauthorization for the Recreational Trails Program. The one comment heard more than once related to the 40-30-30 requirement. A common comment was that the 40 percent diversified category should include at least some motorized projects. Here is a summary of different comments:

  1. According to a study produced by the Coalition for Recreational Trails, more than $150 million was allocated to nonmotorized projects between 1993 and 2003. During that same time, only $55 million was allocated to motorized recreation. This raises a concern that not enough money is being distributed to motorized recreation within the 40/30/30 formula. Since motorized recreation provides the RTP’s funding source, one of two things should happen: a greater percentage should be allocated for motorized projects or the diversified funds should have some motorized requirement attached.

  2. At least one State indicated the funding notification process is not timely enough. This may be a State-related issue; other States are informed well ahead of the timeframe that State indicated.

  3. There is a concern with the current requirement that at least 5 percent of the programmatic share come from non-Federal sources. This has created challenges for our Federal agency partners who often find it difficult to produce the additional 5 percent. This is especially true when the project pertains to equipment purchases which are necessary to provide adequately groomed trails.

  4. There is a concern with the States’ ability to simply eliminate any funding for one of the 40/30/30 categories without any affect to the other categories. In some States, where administrators do not look favorably upon either motorized or nonmotorized projects, there is an ability to "ignore" these projects by simply not funding them. The funds from that category simply disappear with no effect upon the other categories. The Federal Highway Administration should consider some type of penalty for not funding a category to its maximum amount.

Southeastern Equestrian Trails Conference, July 2007

Transportation Enhancement Program Managers, August 2007

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s TrailLink Conference, August 2007

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) developed the 2010 Campaign for Active Transportation. This would earmark $2 billion for an expanded Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program in 40 cities at $50 million each. See www.railstotrails.org/whatwedo/trailadvocacy/2010Campaign.html.

RTC released its "Active Transportation for America" report on October 20, 2008.

"Fantasy Reauthorization Language" from a conference participant
NATIONAL TRAIL PRESERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT VISITOR USE
PURPOSE: Promote the preservation and development for public use of the National Scenic and Historic Trails

Bullet Language for consideration:

FACILITY DEVELOPMENT PROJECT FUNDING:

State Trail Administrators Meeting, September 2007
Including ideas raised during the review of the draft meeting notes.

Other Issues

FHWA may consider amendments to deal with issues relating to:

See also:

This document replaces Federal-aid Highway Program Reauthorization 2009: Summary, Explanation, and Comments from Trails and Enhancements Conferences / Session Handouts: State Trail Administrators Meeting, prepared for the September 2007 State Trail Administrators Meeting.

Updated: 04/02/2014
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