Skip to content U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway AdministrationU.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration
Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)

TrailLink 2005

Federal Highway Administration Presentation

Cynthia J Burbank, Associate Administrator for Planning, Environment, and Realty

Conference Program Description: A Federal Affair: Agencies Weigh In. During this luncheon with fellow conference attendees, featured speakers from government agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United States Department of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development will discuss and explore their shared role in trail development, and the role of trails in community development.

What is the role of Transportation in trails?

Why are we transportation people here at a trails conference?

  1. Funding
  2. Policy and Planning
  3. Partnerships
  4. Shared Goals

1. Funding

Transportation funding is the single largest source of funds for trails in the United States.

States have increased Federal-aid funding for pedestrian and bicycle projects and programs from $22 million in 1992 to more than $400 million annually since 2000.

2. Policy and Planning

The US Department of Transportation recognizes the important role pedestrians and bicyclists have in our nation's transportation system. This includes making sure our transportation system is accessible to all, including people who have disabilities.

National Bicycling and Walking Study: The USDOT released the National Bicycling and Walking Study in 1994, which called for doubling the percentage of trips made by bicycling and walking while simultaneously reducing injuries and fatalities by 10 percent. Our 10 Year Status Report ( showed:

Design Guidance: In February 2000, FHWA released its pedestrian and bicycle Design Guidance, Accommodating Bicycle and Pedestrian Travel: A Recommended Approach. This guidance encourages State and local transportation agencies to routinely accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists in all transportation plans, programs, and projects as part of everyday business. We also want to make sure our facilities are accessible to all: we published Designing Sidewalks and Trails for Access to give guidance on how to develop accessible pedestrian walkways and trails.

Planning: Federal transportation law requires statewide and metropolitan transportation planning processes. States and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) receive Federal transportation funds to support transportation planning. Transportation plans also should incorporate information from land use plans, recreation plans, trail plans, public safety plans, and public health plans. Pedestrians, bicyclists, and trail advocates are key participants in this process. The USDOT proposed strengthening transportation planning requirements to specifically require the inclusion of pedestrians and bicyclists in the public participation process.

Most pedestrian and bicyclist trips are short, local trips. Therefore, local land use planning is an important method to determine how communities develop, and whether or not they develop into communities that support walking and bicycling. If we continue separating origins and destinations with long distances, we won't be able to reach our goals making bicycling and walking convenient enough for most people.

FHWA also encourages Scenario Planning. See for more information. We also have A Citizen's Quick Reference Guide to Transportation Decisionmaking at This brochure tells you how transportation plans are developed, how transportation decisions are made, and how you can get involved.

Public Health

3. Partnerships

Federal Partnerships: Here are a few examples of partnerships the USDOT and FHWA have with Federal agencies:

State and Local Government Partnerships: We meet routinely with:

Partnerships with Nongovernmental Organizations: We provide financial assistance to several organizations to provide technical assistance to the public:

4. Shared Goals

We have a lot of goals in common with trail advocates and with our Federal and State partners, including the CDC and HUD here with me, but also with the Federal land management agencies.

Accommodation: The USDOT will continue to encourage States and localities to routinely accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists in all transportation plans, programs, and projects as part of everyday business. This includes access for people who have disabilities.

Safety: FHWA will continue to place a high priority on pedestrian safety in its strategic plan. FHWA also will continue to partner with NHTSA and other USDOT agencies.

Public Health: The USDOT is now working with the public health community to look at research and planning for infrastructure that can support active transportation.


As you can see, the reason transportation folks have a place at the picnic table is because we share a lot of common goals, plus, we have the Federal stewardship role and the funding.

FHWA is committed to providing active transport options throughout the nation and will continue to do so in the future.

Trails and nonmotorized transportation facilities are part of the solution.

FHWA Contact Information

Bicycle and Pedestrian Program:
Gabe Rousseau, Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Manager

Bicycle and Pedestrian Publications:

Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, operated by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center:

Transportation Enhancement Activities:
Christopher B Douwes, Trails and Enhancements Program Manager
202-366-5013; Fax 202-366-3409,

National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse, operated by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy:

Recreational Trails Program:
Christopher B Douwes, Trails and Enhancements Program Manager
202-366-5013; Fax 202-366-3409,

Recreational Trails Program Publications:

National Trails Training Partnership, operated by American Trails:

National Trails System (National Park Service):

Project Examples

Recreational Trails Program: The Coalition for Recreational Trails Annual Awards Program recognizes exemplary RTP projects from across the country each year. Here are two from 2005. See more at

MKT Trailhead Project

Photo of an overhead view of a gazebo and connecting paved trails at Flat Branch Park.

Project sponsor: City of Columbia; MKT Trailhead Committee, Columbia Public Works Department, Columbia Parks and Recreation Department, Missouri

Award Category: Construction and Design (Trail-Related Facilities)

2005 Annual Achievement Award winner: for trail projects funded through the Recreational Trails Program of the Federal Highway Administration.

Photo of a section of Flat Branch Park with a bench and gazebo and some buildings in the background.

With a $40,000 RTP grant as initiative, Flat Branch Park was transformed from a polluted site to a beautiful trailhead park for the 8.9 mile city/ county MKT Trail. Amenities provided by in-house staff include bicycle racks, benches, tables and seating, gazebo, lighting, drinking fountain, sidewalks, landscaping, and historical plaques. The MKT Trailhead Committee, working with Public Works, and Parks and Recreation Departments, played an extraordinary role in fund raising grants and private donations.

Photo of 2 people walking and holding hands past an interpretive sign along a trail.

The old industrial site was razed, contaminated soil removed, topsoil added, creek debris removed, and streambed restored with native limestone, and native plantings. The park provides green space for downtown Columbia and serves as a gathering place for special family events, outdoor movies, lunch concerts, a community "circus," and the annual Mayor's Challenge: Bike, Walk, and Wheel Week.

With access to the State managed 225-mile Katy Trail, Flat Branch Park serves the City of Columbia and Boone County, and has regional and State impacts, users being able to access local services.

River Bluff Trail Project

Photo of a paved section of trail through a wooded area.

Project sponsor: Logansport Parks Department, Cass County Parks Department, Little Turtle Waterway, corporations and individuals in the community
Award Category: Construction & Design (Non-Motorized)
2005 Annual Achievement Award winner: for trail projects funded through the Recreational Trails Program of the Federal Highway Administration.

Initiated by a $150,000 RTP grant, the 1.3 mile, 10-foot wide paved and landscaped River Bluff Trail is constructed on donated land and abandoned railway along the Eel River.

Photo of the Eel River with a small bridge and trees in the background.

The trail is designed for walking, running, biking, and in-line skating, with bridge overlooks, resting places, and a picnic area. The trail also features an accessible canoe/kayak launch.

The Memorial Hospital Foundation was chosen to spearhead this strategic initiative because it exists to provide direction and financial support for activities that promote health and wellness in the community. Logansport and Cass County Parks Departments and the Little Turtle Waterway, a local park and trails group, provided technical assistance.

Photo of people riding bikes and walking across a short span of bridge.

Funding assistance for the over $910,000 total project came from corporate and individuals in the community.

Use has steadily increased and includes youth groups, schools, municipal agency training, group homes, and individuals. In addition to promoting physical health, the popularity of the trail has developed a community focal point, created much good will in the community, and improved the overall quality of life.

Transportation Enhancement Activities: The National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse maintains a TE project database and library at There are hundreds of great examples across the country.

Stone Arch Bridge Rehabilitation
Minneapolis, MN

Over $2 million in TE funds have been used to restore the Stone Arch Bridge, a former railroad bridge crossing the only waterfall, Saint Anthony Falls, on the Mississippi River. The nationally registered historic bridge dates back to 1883 and is now used by pedestrians, bicyclists, and a short-line trolley. The Stone Arch Bridge is used daily by commuters and recreation seekers in Minneapolis, nearby suburbs, and the University of Minnesota. The bridge provides access to the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Trail, a two mile trail with an extensive array of interpretive and directional signs noting the early days of the city and the historic flour mill district. It is also one of many sites along the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway. The restoration of the Stone Arch Bridge would not have been possible had it not been for the partnership between the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the Minnesota Historical Society and the local Saint Anthony Falls Heritage Board.

Minneapolis' historic Stone Arch Bridge and a view of the water falls. Photo of the trolly that crosses the bridge and cityscape in the background.

Greenbrier River Trail
Southeastern West Virginia, WV

At the turn of the century, the needs of West Virginia's booming timber industry necessitated construction of the Greenbrier Division of the C&O Railway. Many decades later, in the late 1970s, the once busy rail line was dismantled and a rough gravel path was left behind. West Virginia State Parks soon took charge, and with the help of four TE awards made major improvements to the trail, including paving several sections, installing restroom facilities, and creating some of the 35 bridges and 2 tunnels along the trail. These improvements helped make the trail the success it is today. At nearly 80 miles in length, it provides incredible recreational opportunities, views of the Allegheny Mountains, and access to several of West Virginia's State Parks, including the historic Cass Scenic Railroad Park. Athletes enjoy the annual Great Greenbrier River Race, and local communities benefit from the trail's popularity. West Virginia State Parks, working with the Greenbrier Trail Association, continues to manage the trail and oversees ongoing improvements.

Photo of the Greenbrier river.
The Greenbrier River
Photo of a trail winding through the woods.
The Greenbrier Trail

Primary contact information

Greenbrier River Trail State Park

Project Facts

Primary TE Activity: 8
TE award: $369,960
Total cost: $462,450

Updated: 10/20/2015
HEP Home Planning Environment Real Estate
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000