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Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU)

Fact Sheets on Highway Provisions


Year 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Authorization $60 M $70M $75M $80M $85M

Program Purpose

The Recreational Trails program provides funds to the States to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both nonmotorized and motorized recreational trail uses.

Statutory References

SAFETEA-LU Section(s): 1101(a)(8), 1109

Other: 23 USC 104(h) & 206


Funded by contract authority, to remain available for 4 years. Funds are subject to the overall Federal-aid highway obligation limitation.

Before apportioning funds to the States, there will be a takedown of $840,000 each fiscal year (2005-2009) for program research, technical assistance, and training expenses. Funds will be distributed to the States by formula as follows:

  • 50% of the amount will be apportioned equally among eligible States;
  • 50% of the amount will be apportioned among eligible States proportionate to the amount of non-highway recreational fuel used in each State during the preceding year.

Eligible Use of Funds

Funds are available to develop, construct, maintain, and rehabilitate trails and trail facilities. Trail uses include hiking, bicycling, in-line skating, equestrian use, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, off-road motorcycling, all-terrain vehicle riding, four-wheel driving, or using other off-road motorized vehicles.

Continued eligibilities include:

  • maintenance and restoration of trails
  • development and rehabilitation of trailside and trailhead facilities
  • purchase and lease of trail construction and maintenance equipment
  • construction of new trails (with some limits on Federal lands)
  • acquisition of easements and fee simple title to property
  • assessment of trail conditions for accessibility and maintenance
  • development and dissemination of publications and operation of trail safety and trail environmental protection programs (including non-law enforcement monitoring and patrol programs and trail-related training), not to exceed 5% of the annual apportionment
  • State costs for administering the program, not to exceed 7% of the annual apportionment

New eligible activities include:

  • assessment of trail conditions for accessibility and maintenance
  • clarification that educations funds may be used for publications, monitoring and patrol programs and for trail-related training

Program Features

States must meet minimum funding between motorized, non-motorized and diverse trail use:

  • 40% for diverse trail use;
  • 30% for non-motorized recreation
  • 30% for motorized recreation
  • The ability for a State recreational trails advisory committee to waive the setasides for non-motorized and motorized recreation has been eliminated by SAFETEA-LU.

States are encouraged to enter into contracts and cooperative agreements with youth conservation and service corps to perform trail construction and maintenance.

Federal Share

In general, the Federal share will be in accordance with section [23 USC 120(b)] (i.e. the sliding scale provision), but with additional flexibilities. Where a Federal land management agency is the project sponsor, the combination of the U.S. DOT and other Federal agency share may not exceed 95 percent. The RTP also allows funds from any Federal program (including other U.S. Department of Transportation programs) to fulfill the non-Federal share requirement, for purposes that would be eligible under the program from which the funds are derived. Under SAFETEA-LU, RTP funds also may be used to fulfill the non-Federal share requirement of other Federal programs (including other U.S. Department of Transportation programs), for purposes that would be eligible under the Recreational Trails program. A State also may allow adjustments to the non-Federal share on a programmatic basis.

Upon approval, planning and environmental assessment costs incurred prior to project approval may be credited toward the non-Federal share cost of the project, limited to costs incurred not more than 18 months prior to project approval.

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