Action Items / Comments Requested
FY 2009 Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative Research Program (STEP)
LAST CALL: Comments due September 22, 2008
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) published a Federal Register Notice on June 23, 2008, announcing the FY 2009 Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative Research Program (STEP). FHWA's STEP administrators review stakeholder comments. A lack of comments indicates either satisfaction with FHWA's proposed research program, or a lack of interest from stakeholders. See:
STEP is an FHWA-administered source of funding for research related to Planning, Environment, and Realty for FY 2006 to FY 2009. Stakeholder input is required to identify the research topics that should receive priority consideration. FHWA is seeking input from its partners on the FY 2009 STEP Research Program. STEP will fund research, field demonstrations, technology transfer, conferences, and workshops, as well as portions of various pooled fund research efforts. Grants and cooperative agreements are possible with a 50 percent match. Research contracts will not require a match. The feedback section of the website is at http://knowledge.fhwa.dot.gov/cops/step.nsf - (link inactive 5/12). To submit research projects, click on the appropriate topic and complete the form.
Considerations for the National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse
TE Managers and Trail Advocates: STEP funds are the sole Federal funding available at this time for the National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse (NTEC). If NTEC's service is important to you, then please provide your comments. FHWA has received 8 comments related to NTEC so far: that doesn't indicate much support.
- Please post comments under Overall STEP Comments.
- Please write out National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse at first use in your comment: in case the FHWA STEP reviewers don't recognize what NTEC means.
- There is no funding set aside for NTEC for FY 2009 or future years in the current STEP plan. What would you recommend?
- How do you use NTEC? What services does NTEC provide, and how does NTEC benefit the nation?
- Have grantees in your State benefited from NTEC? Do they know about the opportunity to comment on the STEP process? Hint: Please let them know about this STEP comment period.
Considerations for trail-related research
- There is no funding set aside for trail-related research for FY 2009 or future years in the current STEP plan, although some ideas have been submitted under "Bicycle and Pedestrian Research". What would you recommend?
- Are there trail research needs that are likely to benefit transportation? (The STEP funds are intended to primarily benefit transportation rather than recreation.)
FHWA has not received any comments related to recreational trail research, other than comments related to pedestrian and bicycle transportation.
Note: FHWA's Recreational Trails Program administrative funds are used for cooperative agreements to support trail training, trail conference support, and purchase orders to develop trail-related publications, including cooperation with the USDA Forest Service Technology and Development Program. The RTP Administrative funds are separate from the STEP funds, and are not part of the STEP process.
FHWA Guidance, Policy, and Resources
Repayment of Preliminary Engineering Costs: www.fhwa.dot.gov/federalaid/080626.cfm
The purpose of this memorandum is to clarify FHWA's policy regarding the time limit for Federal-aid funded preliminary engineering (PE) projects which have not progressed to the right-of-way (ROW) or the construction phase. Many questions have arisen recently regarding repayment of funds expended on projects for which no reasonable progress has been made. This memorandum provides additional guidance on when to grant time extensions to the States.
FY 2008 Rescissions Posted
FHWA posted the Response to FY 2008 Rescissions for the Federal-aid highway program. We updated the summaries of Recreational Trails Program apportionments and rescissions, and the summaries of Transportation Enhancement apportionments and rescissions.
News and Newsletters
Friday, September 5, 2008: U.S. Transportation Mary Peters Announces Steps to Delay Highway Trust Fund Shortfall, Calls on Congress to Pass Legislation to Address Problem. See items about this issue:
Wednesday, September 11, 2008: Statement by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters on House of Representatives Action on Highway Trust Fund
- Congress has acted quickly to protect states from the pain of a funding shortfall in the highway trust fund, but the fundamental funding flaws that plague the nation's transportation system will continue to wreak havoc if left unfixed. Congress must now address the obvious need for meaningful reforms to improve the way we raise and invest transportation funds, as this Administration has proposed and requested for years. I urge members to do so with the same bipartisan spirit and energy they demonstrated in voting for these additional resources."
- House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman's Comment.
What does this mean for Transportation Enhancement Activities and the Recreational Trails Program? We are awaiting guidance on what to tell the States.
- Short Term: As far as project payment, TE and RTP funds are part of the overall Federal-aid highway program apportionments provided to the States. TE and RTP projects are affected the same way as other Federal-aid highway projects.
- Long Term: There are several opinions and options about how to ensure the long term sustainability of the Federal surface transportation program. Here are three viewpoints:
- National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission
- US Department of Transportation Reform Proposal
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
Summer 2008 Office of Real Estate Newsletter
The Summer 2008 Office of Real Estate Newsletter provides the latest information on what is happening in Right-of-Way and Outdoor Advertising Control. Scroll down into the newsletter to see several articles that may relate to Transportation Enhancement Activities and the Recreational Trails Program, including:
- Including Right-of-Way in the Process of Integrating Planning and Environment
- The Safety Effects of Electronic Advertising Signs on Driver Attention and Distraction
- Accommodation of Renewable Energy Resources in the Right-of-Way
- New Mexico Selected for Carbon Sequestration Pilot Project (some of these activities may be eligible for TE Category #11)
Awards and Anniversaries
Cooperative Agreement Awarded to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
FHWA awarded a new competitive cooperative agreement to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy to administer the National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse (NTEC), effective September 10, 2008. The agreement is for five years; subject to available funding (current funding is through September 9, 2009). NTEC’s services are available through www.enhancements.org. If NTEC's service is important to you, then please provide your comments to FHWA's STEP program.
The National Trails System Act 40th Anniversary!
The National Trails System is the network of scenic, historic, and recreation trails created by the National Trails System Act of 1968. These trails provide for outdoor recreation needs, promote the enjoyment, appreciation, and preservation of open-air, outdoor areas and historic resources, and encourage public access and citizen involvement. See more information at www.nps.gov/nts/. The National Trails System Act celebrates its 40th Anniversary on October 2, 2008.
The 2008 Kodak American Greenways Awards celebration commemorated the 40th Anniversary of the National Trails System on September 15, 2008. The Partnership for the National Trails System and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy received national awards.
Training and Resources
Off Highway Vehicle Recreation Management Program
The Marshall University Recreation and Park Resources program, in cooperation with the Nick J. Rahall, II Appalachian Transportation Institute and the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC), has developed a series of four off-highway vehicle courses: Introduction to Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation, Planning and Design of OHV Trail Systems, Construction of OHV Trail Systems, and Operation and Management of OHV Trail Systems. For more information, see:
State Trail Administrators Meeting
We posted additional information and the draft agenda for the 2008 State Trail Administrators Meeting to be held November 13-15, 2008, in Little Rock AR. The State Trail Administrators Meeting is for State trail administrators and Federal agency personnel who are involved with statewide or national trail programs. State Transportation Enhancement Managers, Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinators, and State Scenic Byway Coordinators also are invited.
Registration is now open. There is no registration fee, but everyone must register for the Mobile Workshops to ensure that there is enough space.
We will have open discussion sessions aimed at providing you an opportunity to present General and Technical questions to FHWA. Please pre-submit your questions to Jonathan LeClere at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we are able to research and prepare answers. Please feel free to submit a question even if you are unable to attend the training workshop. If you've asked or wondered about something, others probably have too! We plan to have teleconference capability for Plenary Session portions of the meeting.
See additional events at: