The following ideas are presented for consideration in discussions about surface transportation authorization legislation.
State Trail Administrators and FHWA division offices agree that RTP projects should be exempt from the metropolitan and statewide transportation planning and programming processes (inclusion in transportation plans and in the TIP and STIP). The STIP and TIP processes are designed for major transportation projects. Recreational trail projects usually are administered through a State resource agency, not the State DOT, and do not directly impact transportation. For the RTP, the TIP and STIP processes have been described as "bureaucratic, time-consuming exercises with no public benefit", adding from months to more than a year for project implementation. The USDOT proposed eliminating this requirement in its 2003 SAFETEA Section 1606 proposal.
Delete 23 U.S.C. 206(f)(2)(B) in the Federal share, to keep at least the same flexibility that the RTP has at present, but allow flexibility available to the rest of the Federal-aid highway program under §120(k) and (l). To be deleted: "B. the share attributable to the Secretary and the Federal agency sponsoring the project may not exceed 95 percent of the cost of a project under this section."
Raise the Education cap to 10% (an optional maximum, but no required minimum).
Permit RTP projects to incorporate workforce development, training, and education (as defined in 23 U.S.C. 504(e)) within the RTP projects.
Facilitate using volunteers on RTP projects with incentives or exceptions.
Obtain a one-time extra appropriation ($2.5 million, according to an estimate from FHWA's Statistics Office) to determine the actual amount of nonhighway recreational fuel use nationwide, with enough confidence to apportion funds among the States.
Consider a higher FHWA administrative takedown. Specify that the Federal share for FHWA's RTP Administrative funds is 100 percent (it is not specified now).
The following items do not require new legislation.