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Recreational Trails Program: Report on State Trail Projects

For the Federal Highway Administration by the Coalition for Recreational Trails

January 15, 2001
(Order No. DTFH61-00-P-00299, Requisition No. 67-01-0059

This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The United States Government assumes no liability for its contents or use thereof. The contents of this report reflect the views of the contractor, who is responsible for the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the Department of Transportation. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation.

Contents


Recreation Trails Program Database Project

Executive Summary

In 1999, the Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT), working in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), developed a database of State trail projects that had received funding from the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) since the RTP's inception as part of, first, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) and then the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) in 1998. In July 2000, again in cooperation with the FHWA, CRT initiated an update of the database. By late December, reports had been received from 47 States, showing that the number of RTP projects had increased 58% to 3,983 while total RTP funding increased more than 97% to $103.6 million. In addition, States reported that more than $112 million in additional funding - a 109% increase over the previous total - had been obtained from other sources, including other Federal agencies, as well as State and local governments and trail groups.

The projects reported were varied, but the leading use of funds, by a substantial margin, was trail construction or development. Eighty-six percent more of the RTP funding - $22 million - is being spent on trail construction compared to trail maintenance. The types of trails that benefitted from the funding were also quite varied, but with hiking and walking trails leading the way. Approximately two thirds of the reported projects can be clearly identified as benefitting motorized and/or nonmotorized trail uses, with the trend clearly favoring nonmotorized uses.

Although each State is allowed to use up to 5% of its RTP funds for educational programs that promote trail-related safety and environmental protection, only 56 projects have been reported by 23 States.


Background

A Federal assistance program for recreational trail construction, renovation and maintenance was created under the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA). Under the program, known initially as the National Recreational Trails Funding Program, funds were allocated to all States and the District of Columbia during three of the legislation's initial six years (a total of $37.5 million) as well as during the transitional period of October 1997 to June 1998.

The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) amended the program - now known as the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) - most notably by significantly increasing funds apportioned to the States (rising to $50 million annually for years three through six of the legislation) and providing contract authority for the program.

The legislation establishes requirements for project eligibility but provides substantial flexibility to the States on project selection. Presently, there is no unified reporting process from the States to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), which administers the program, on use of the funds. It should be noted, however, that most States have substantial, though not uniform, information available to the public on use of RTP funds.

The Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT), representing all major national trail interests, has taken an active role in the trail program since its inception and shares FHWA's interest in ensuring that the program is efficient, operating in full compliance with the law, and understood by all interests. CRT regards it as essential that RTP projects can be identified and evaluated by the Administration, the Congress, and program advocates. The increase in funding for RTP demonstrated the support for trails programs in the Congress, but this support will be sustained only if sufficient accomplishments can be demonstrated. Moreover, FHWA has a need to monitor projects for compliance with statutory direction.

For these reasons, in 1999, CRT worked cooperatively with FHWA and the States to collect initial information on projects funded under RTP since the program's beginning. The data requested included project date, location and description, contact name, amount of RTP funding and other funding, types of trail uses, the Congressional district involved, and project highlights. All the States and the District of Columbia reported information from their Recreational Trails Program, in varying levels of detail. CRT compiled this information into a database, which it has made available to FHWA, trail administrators, and major national trail organizations. A report highlighting key information from the database was prepared and submitted to FHWA. As part of that report, CRT recommended that the data-collection effort be continued.

In July 2000, again in cooperation with FHWA, CRT contacted the States to obtain information on RTP trail projects undertaken since the initial request for data in 1999. As of late December, 47 States had responded, reporting on their newest projects from 1999 and/or 2000. New information has not been received from Arizona, Florida, Ohio, and the District of Columbia because those jurisdictions have not allocated funding in those years. In addition, 16 of the States provided updated information regarding earlier projects. All of the States are paying closer attention to keeping track of the specific project information and are doing a better job of collecting and reporting the information. As CRT finished collecting information at the end of 2000, the value of the RTP database for the Federal and State governments and for trail organizations has been greatly enhanced. CRT's findings from the data collected are presented on the following pages.


Initial Database Findings

As of December 31, 2000, 47 States had submitted new data regarding their use of Recreational Trails Program (RTP) funds. Total trail project funding reported totals $103,610,502, an increase of $51,052,505 - or more than 97% - over the total reported last year for the first seven years of the program. The number of projects reported increased 58% from 2,524 to 3,983. In addition, the States reported that even more funding - $112,045,991 - had been provided by other sources, including Federal agencies like the USDA Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, as well as States, towns, counties, and trail clubs like mountain biking groups, equestrian councils, and snowmobiler associations. This total, which does not include data from all program years or all States, represents an increase of $58,398,735 - 109% - over the amount of other funding reported previously.

RTP Database Projects and Funding Statistics 1993-2000

Project State Number New Projects 1999-2000 Number Total Projects RTP Funding Other Funding
Alabama 38 77 $2,669,954 $1,194,265
Alaska 23 79 $1,009,825 $952,299
Arizona   5 $409,382 $1,281,479
Arkansas 22 66 $1,794,514 $1,401,996
California 19 95 $5,884,905 $5,173,208
Colorado 16 41 $2,540,635 $8,665,899
Connecticut 42 79 $1,570,469 $1,165,356
Delaware 7 22 $1,007,100 $2,348,365
District of Columbia   1 $600,000 $200,000
Florida   39 $1,262,889 $1,267,089
Georgia 14 44 $3,096,815 $4,357,590
Hawaii 94 187 $704,049 $429,442
Idaho 36 100 $1,645,916 $5,886,049
Illinois 21 34 $2,138,522 $2,627,925
Indiana 8 22 $1,831,384 $1,084,734
Iowa 5 25 $2,087,722 $1,634,731
Kansas 70 132 $3,638,819 $2,402,486
Kentucky 27 59 $1,122,950 $1,610,858
Louisiana 24 53 $1,670,480 $807,784
Maine 25 109 $1,671,594 $1,224,617
Maryland 86 148 $2,992,340 $2,912,340
Massachusetts 14 73 $719,828 $948,137
Michigan 17 55 $2,982,601 $1,611,306
Minnesota 29 83 $2,305,874 $5,712,756
Mississippi 23 38 $2,222,479 $401,964
Missouri 18 61 $2,071,060 $5,269,964
Montana 41 125 $1,297,021 $451,244
Nebraska 2 17 $702,070 $87,500
Nevada 13 53 $1,027,586 $1,137,805
New Hampshire 53 119 $1,034,080 $1,179,199
New Jersey 50 176 $1,885,627 $2,697,439
New Mexico 14 38 $1,647,026 $801,478
New York 35 96 $2,379,339 $2,233,955
North Carolina 58 133 $3,666,364 $3,985,154
North Dakota 40 69 $1,669,770 $492,535
Ohio   33 $889,555 $1,055,849
Oklahoma 23 66 $1,766,226 $1,757,590
Oregon 32 113 $1,766,970 $2,471,958
Pennsylvania 73 141 $4,855,663 $4,132,158
Rhode Island 19 35 $1,047,560 $3,139,968
South Carolina 24 88 $1,340,646 $707,835
South Dakota 7 37 $1,007,457 $706,245
Tennessee 21 46 $2,380,101 $1,081,697
Texas 82 194 $6,573,718 $5,079,068
Utah 36 81 $2,451,295 $2,388,385
Vermont 34 186 $1,592,567 $4,121,143
Virginia 22 91 $2,803,143 $2,365,854
Washington 36 70 $2,917,689 $3,535,844
West Virginia 16 52 $1,297,261 $514,331
Wisconsin 27 92 $1,839,555 $1,719,613
Wyoming 29 105 $2,120,107 $1,629,505
TOTAL 1,465 3,983 $103,610,502 $112,045,991

The trail projects reported were varied and included: building new trails and adding trail connections; building restrooms; providing water fountains; developing and implementing educational programs; maintaining trails; resurfacing trail treads; providing accessibility for mobility-impaired persons; and more. The following table represents a categorization of the different projects reported. The percentages shown reflect the percentage of all projects that reported trail project descriptions. The leading use of funds, by a substantial margin, in both the current and previous reports was trail construction or development, followed by bridge construction or renovation. The percentages reported for each category did not change markedly, with the exception of trail maintenance, which nearly tripled in number and almost doubled (from 6% to 11%) its share of projects.

RTP Database Trail Project Work Descriptions Summary

Percentage of all projects that reported (3,518) trail project descriptions

Description of Work Done Last Year 1999-2000 Total Reported
Trail construction or development 569 35% 542 1,111 32%
Bridge construction or renovation 245 15% 170 415 12%
Trail maintenance 100 6% 298 398 11%
Signs purchase/installation 163 10% 247 410 12%
Trail renovation/relocation 147 9% 182 329 9%
Trail equipment purchased 98 6% 56 154 4%
Trail grooming 84 5% 55 139 4%
Trailhead work 107 7% 90 197 6%
Parking lots 77 5% 80 157 4%
Restroom facilities 31 2% 66 97 3%
Educational 16 1% 40 56 2%
Trail Improvements     288 288 8%
Maps     47 47 1%
Brochures     32 32 1%

A broader definition of trail maintenance was used for the following table, which includes projects reported as renovations, improvements and grooming, as well as maintenance. The 833 projects reported with those descriptions accounted for $25.7 million in RTP funding and another $25.7 million in matching funding.

RTP Database Maintenance Projects Funding Summary

Project State Number of Projects RTP Funding Other Funding
Alabama 14 $425,707 $267,876
Alaska 33 $526,527 $461,414
Arkansas 4 $79,922 $62,522
California 16 $1,333,978 $735,559
Colorado 2 $84,384 $1,920,900
Connecticut 17 $189,488 $72,930
Delaware 7 $311,900 $698,515
District of Columbia 1 $600,000 $200,000
Florida 7 $276,000 $276,000
Georgia 5 $305,000 $126,836
Hawaii 2 $704,049 $429,442
Idaho 30 $521,327 $528,662
Illinois 11 $787,485 $1,381,466
Indiana 1 $113,470 $113,470
Iowa 6 $666,037 $41,800
Kansas 19 $395,585 $289,585
Kentucky 16 $310,566 $324,118
Louisiana 3 $108,400 $27,100
Maine 24 $584,561 $334,198
Maryland 29 $582,183 $552,183
Massachusetts 24 $272,647 $285,755
Michigan 17 $872,400 $671,075
Minnesota 25 $871,770 $2,898,512
Mississippi 3 $255,500 $43,000
Missouri 7 $118,615 $116,533
Montana 37 $564,070 $245,079
Nebraska 1 $2,608  
Nevada 9 $129,753 $122,216
New Hampshire 45 $508,472 $606,076
New Jersey 17 $314,980 $345,687
New Mexico 8 $114,400 $95,900
New York 15 $693,184 $355,255
North Carolina 22 $689,749 $409,246
North Dakota 18 $538,685 $155,916
Ohio 11 $130,570 $18,106
Oklahoma 6 $174,900 $102,129
Oregon 20 $393,573 $271,345
Pennsylvania 43 $2,246,331 $1,725,060
Rhode Island 11 $152,830 $140,830
South Carolina 10 $319,353 $98,724
South Dakota 15 $369,354 $254,531
Tennessee 6 $229,487 $76,122
Texas 42 $1,301,536 $701,397
Utah 13 $454,214 $446,964
Vermont 52 $751,733 $2,677,061
Virginia 20 $628,274 $329,220
Washington 24 $1,738,451 $1,762,303
West Virginia 7 $82,330 $82,330
Wisconsin 22 $569,537 $565,062
Wyoming 36 $1,359,621 $1,327,998
TOTAL 833 $25,755,496 $25,774,008

While the quantity of projects incorporating trail construction and trail maintenance is similar (891 to 833), the total amount of funding for trail construction is more than double the amount used for trail maintenance funding. As would be expected, the average per project cost for construction projects is markedly higher than for maintenance projects: $118,453 vs. $61,860.

RTP Database Construction and Development Project Funding Summary

Project State Number Projects RTP Funding Other Funding
Alabama 41 $1,936,036 $899,338
Alaska 16 $173,414 $164,011
Arizona 4 $366,382 $1,281,479
Arkansas 14 $743,414 $611,760
California 26 $2,580,264 $3,395,098
Colorado 26 $2,204,384 $6,490,699
Connecticut 8 $289,864 $886,522
Delaware 8 $634,700 $655,350
Florida 15 $672,461 $674,461
Georgia 20 $1,787,987 $2,985,656
Hawaii 2 $704,049 $429,442
Idaho 25 $556,702 $4,845,735
Illinois 6 $912,699 $1,087,432
Indiana 18 $1,657,984 $739,629
Iowa 8 $1,030,012 $1,587,717
Kansas 32 $1,889,163 $1,469,744
Kentucky 20 $569,414 $692,809
Louisiana 3 $869,522 $217,404
Maine 6 $212,477 $167,027
Maryland 31 $1,138,258 $1,088,258
Massachusetts 10 $125,040 $136,883
Michigan 16 $1,075,137 $250,750
Minnesota 17 $938,737 $1,866,863
Mississippi 17 $1,823,455 $375,864
Missouri 26 $1,407,631 $3,062,708
Montana 10 $419,775 $141,067
Nebraska 2 $290,100 $87,500
Nevada 15 $676,321 $552,327
New Hampshire 13 $138,471 $145,821
New Jersey 16 $421,795 $597,532
New Mexico 12 $898,603 $412,458
New York 9 $512,093 $429,326
North Carolina 52 $1,988,090 $2,703,066
North Dakota 11 $807,486 $270,158
Ohio 2 $92,500 $207,500
Oklahoma 21 $827,899 $673,593
Oregon 26 $595,538 $2,006,167
Pennsylvania 30 $1,972,081 $1,973,140
Rhode Island 13 $533,930 $2,339,338
South Carolina 36 $780,208 $483,808
South Dakota 10 $354,143 $338,443
Tennessee 15 $1,147,227 $376,724
Texas 55 $3,495,489 $2,721,968
Utah 12 $931,459 $875,799
Vermont 18 $284,442 $559,211
Virginia 35 $1,600,579 $1,480,805
Washington 7 $733,285 $1,035,300
West Virginia 18 $1,003,422 $367,789
Wisconsin 24 $729,987 $729,987
Wyoming 14 $266,374 $169,666
TOTAL 891 $47,800,483 $57,741,132

Trail users on trails that received RTP funding represented every category of trail-related recreation although data on trail use were not reported for all projects. The table that follows displays those categories. Hiking and walking were the dominant trail uses reported for both the 1993-1999 report and the 2000 update.

RTP Database Trail User Category Summary

Trail User Category Total thru 1999 % of all reporting Total Thru 2000 % of 2,497 reporting
Hiking 625 56% 1,527 61%
Mountain Biking 474 43% 903 36%
Walking 427 38% 1,193 48%
Running 230 21% 653 26%
Equestrian 307 28% 554 22%
Cross Country Skiing 298 27% 548 22%
Snowmobiling 266 24% 460 18%
Paved Trail Biking 217 19% 498 20%
All Terrain Vehicle 214 19% 389 16%
Off Road Motorcycle 163 15% 315 13%
In-Line Skating     151 6%
Four-Wheel Driving 88 8% 145 6%
Snowshoeing 57 5% 166 7%
Paddling 14 1% 76 3%

As shown by the following two tables, 2,042 of the reported projects can be clearly identified as benefitting nonmotorized trail uses and 784 as benefitting motorized trail uses. While there is some overlap where projects accommodate both motorized and nonmotorized trail uses, the trend favoring the expenditure of RTP funds for nonmotorized trail uses is very clear. The average per project cost of projects benefitting nonmotorized trail use is also higher than for projects identified as motorized: $66,182 vs. $58,902.

RTP Database Nonmotorized Trail Project Funding Summary

Project State Number Projects RTP Funding Other Funding
Alabama 12 $485,662 $121,414
Alaska 16 $199,984 $105,965
Arizona 4 $266,781 $324,080
Arkansas 31 $1,146,958 $852,480
California 73 $4,580,750 $4,515,444
Colorado 37 $2,430,635 $8,469,299
Connecticut 65 $1,427,095 1,094,233
Delaware 3 $246,750 $83,000
District of Columbia 1 $600,000 $200,000
Florida 32 $1,130,849 $1,134,849
Georgia 42 $2,953,815 $4,321,685
Hawaii 69    
Idaho 74 $1,214,326 $5,470,598
Illinois 20 $1,208,033 $747,030
Indiana 20 $1,557,654 $1,053,914
Iowa 23 $1,856,633 $1,592,931
Kansas 117 $3,296,856 $2,288,629
Kentucky 56 $1,063,933 $1,534,858
Louisiana 21 $855,279 $213,844
Maine 90 $1,391,975 $1,056,889
Maryland 57 $1,308,486 $1,308,486
Massachusetts 19 $136,483 $174,156
Michigan 44 $2,374,620 $940,950
Minnesota 46 $1,139,503 $2,470,281
Mississippi 28 $1,706,355 $329,464
Missouri 29 $1,197,408 $4,085,009
Montana 28 $211,337 $75,366
Nebraska 2 $290,100 $87,500
Nevada 17 $474,131 $375,712
New Hampshire 104 $769,073 $1,087,252
New Jersey 153 $1,478,471 $2,131,041
New Mexico 13 $891,839 $426,536
New York 26 $936,054 $652,413
North Carolina 47 $1,729,576 $2,808,305
North Dakota 56 $1,114,619 $337,093
Ohio 32 $857,688 $1,005,849
Oklahoma 32 $998,697 $834,084
Oregon 22 $365,595 $1,907,756
Pennsylvania 115 $3,864,318 $3,321,396
Rhode Island 35 $1,047,560 $3,139,968
South Carolina 4 $171,200 $42,800
South Dakota 2 $42,800 $28,700
Tennessee 45 $2,306,457 $1,008,053
Texas 87 $3,178,802 $1,657,116
Utah 11 $693,011 $637,351
Vermont 5 $65,691 $426,850
Virginia 21 $1,164,528 $517,916
Washington 65 $2,780,679 $3,350,546
West Virginia 16 $720,747 $177,410
Wisconsin 39 $564,589 $546,669
Wyoming 36 $618,846 $956,729
TOTAL 2,042 $63,113,231 $72,029,899

RTP Database Motorized Trail Project Funding Summary

Project State Number Projects RTP Funding Other Funding
Alabama 1 $40,000 $10,000
Alaska 12 $171,560 $101,779
Arizona 2 $222,781 $180,060
Arkansas 6 $254,926 $69,800
California 37 $1,934,947 $1,299,827
Colorado 4 $149,184 $274,529
Connecticut 10 $35,095 $10,049
Florida 5 $99,607 $99,807
Georgia 12 $824,987 $808,315
Hawaii 23    
Idaho 60 $1,030,431 $5,147,904
Illinois 3 $776,359 $304,391
Indiana 4 $407,282 $116,820
Iowa 10 $968,791 $41,800
Kansas 8 $470,666 $147,018
Kentucky 10 $213,580 $125,250
Louisiana 5 $192,942 $48,260
Maine 54 $837,270 $616,512
Maryland 15 $393,500 $363,500
Massachusetts 20 $310,071 $190,367
Michigan 20 $1,393,338 $1,093,275
Minnesota 39 $1,037,375 $1,916,017
Mississippi 6 $473,500 $72,500
Missouri 15 $508,604 $857,907
Montana 30 $325,594 $133,594
Nevada 6 $93,463 $77,613
New Hampshire 75 $748,273 $814,027
New Jersey 11 $263,267 $327,726
New Mexico 2 $16,405 $16,405
New York 10 $404,563 $226,523
North Carolina 17 $461,299 $233,582
North Dakota 13 $580,151 $152,942
Ohio 11 $380,207 $390,841
Oklahoma 7 $239,516 $110,917
Oregon 22 $315,703 $113,280
Pennsylvania 55 $1,608,180 $1,481,954
Rhode Island 12 $262,866 $176,866
South Carolina 1 $24,000 $6,000
South Dakota 2 $98,000 $42,000
Tennessee 3 $116,033 $102,982
Texas 12 $1,217,114 $424,971
Utah 14 $265,911 $265,911
Vermont 2 $159,252  
Virginia 7 $249,379 $69,006
Washington 28 $1,211,497 $2,103,065
West Virginia 2 $194,788 $48,697
Wisconsin 20 $335,851 $312,944
Wyoming 41 $1,079,925 $1,253,920
TOTAL 784 $23,398,033 $22,781,453

A State is allowed to use up to 5% of its RTP funds for educational programs that promote trail-related safety and environmental protection. Only 56 such programs have been reported by 23 States. Those programs used $1,036,247 in RTP funds and an additional $1,016,605 in other funding, bringing the per-program cost to $36,658. However, if substantial spending on three programs in California is eliminated from those calculations, the per-program cost drops to $28,715.

RTP Database Education Project Funding Summary

Project State Number Projects RTP Funding Other Funding
Alaska 1 $8,750 $8,750
Alabama 1 $40,275 $10,068
California 3 $302,336 $228,643
Connecticut 4 $41,875 $63,190
Idaho 5 $65,105 $65,236
Illinois 2 $37,823 $37,824
Kentucky 1 $5,000 $5,000
Maryland 6 $61,086 $61,086
Massachusetts 2 $4,800 $7,740
Missouri 1 $3,076 $14,742
Montana 2 $43,000  
Nebraska 1    
Nevada 1 $12,309 $275,092
New Jersey 1 $8,000 $3,000
North Carolina 3 $33,000 $10,375
Oregon 2 $79,469 $5,000
Pennsylvania 3 $69,800 $40,475
Texas 4 $85,393 $88,692
Utah 4 $59,500 $59,500
Vermont 2 $7,803 $3,670
Washington 4 $26,847 $18,551
Wisconsin 1 $1,500 $1,500
Wyoming 2 $39,500 $8,471
TOTAL 56 $1,036,247 $1,016,605


Conclusion (from FHWA)

The Recreational Trails Program has provided significant funding to the States for all kinds of recreational trails. FHWA will continue to monitor how States use RTP funds to benefit recreational trails.

Updated: 02/11/2014
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