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Stewardship and Oversight Plan for the Recreational Trails Program (RTP)

Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and
The Federal Highway Administration
Tennessee Division

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Section 1: Introduction

1. Overview

This Stewardship and Oversight Plan outlines the roles and responsibilities of both the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) in the accomplishment of oversight and administration of the Recreational Trails Program, an assistance program of the FHWA.

The purpose of the Plan is to provide guidance in clarifying actions, preventing misinterpretations, and avoiding time delays. The Stewardship and Oversight Plan is intended to be a living document that can be modified when needed to incorporate additional legislation, additional processes, or other changes to improve program and project delivery in the State of Tennessee. The Stewardship and Oversight Plan will be reviewed approximately once every two years, and upon enactment of a transportation authorization bill, by TDEC and FHWA to determine if any changes need to be made.

While TDEC can assume the responsibility for FHWA in many Title 23 USC actions, some Title 23 USC requirements remain FHWA responsibilities. These program elements include, but are not limited to:

2. Delegation of Authority to Local/State/Federal Agencies

The TDEC may, pursuant to 23 C.F.R. 1.11 and 635.105, delegate certain Federal-aid project authorities to a well-qualified and suitably equipped local/State/Federal public agency. The TDEC is responsible for ensuring that appropriate procedures and guidelines are in place to facilitate the compliance of local/State/Federal public agency administered Federal-aid projects. FHWA will review and approve these practices and procedures for Federal-aid projects. The TDEC will determine if the local/State/Federal agency is well qualified and adequately staffed to administer projects before delegation of any activities. The TDEC will review the local/State/Federal agency's ability to administer Federal-aid projects or specific activities on a case-by-case basis, and the extent of delegation will be dependent on their current staffing level and experience, and past performance. An Agency Agreement will be executed between TDEC and the local/State/Federal agency to outline the responsibilities of both TDEC and the agency.

The TDEC retains responsibility under Federal law and regulations for all delegated activities. The TDEC will have written procedures established for the local/State/Federal agency that provide the necessary processes, approvals, oversight, and review that ensures the delegated projects receive adequate supervision and inspection, and are completed in conformance with approved plans and specifications and applicable Federal requirements. While TDEC will offer any training, advice, or other assistance as may be needed by a local/State/Federal agency to aid it in successfully completing its Federal-aid project, it is understood that the project is implemented by the local/State/Federal agency, with TDEC oversight. As such, if the local/State/Federal agency is not following prescribed requirements, TDEC's recourse would be, in consultation with FHWA, to remove Federal-aid funds from the project. FHWA will approve all TDEC processes, training materials, and any other activity that uses Recreational Trails Program funds.

TDEC will not delegate the following program elements to local/State/Federal/non-profit grantees:

3. Overview of the Recreational Trails Program (From the FHWA web site, FHWA guidance and TDEC guidance)

The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) provides funds to the States to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both nonmotorized and motorized recreational trail uses. Examples of 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.
The RTP is an assistance program of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Each State administers its own program, usually through a State resource or park agency. In Tennessee, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Recreation Educational Services Division administers the program, and has developed procedures to solicit and select projects for funding. TDEC also has a State Recreational Trail Advisory Committee, the Commissioner's Council on Greenways and Trails, to assist with the program.

Recreational Trails Program funds may be used for:

Types of trail projects that are eligible for funding include:

FHWA encourages States to enter into contracts and cooperative agreements with qualified youth conservation or service corps. The State may sole-source contracts and cooperative agreements to qualified youth service and conservation corps for work undertaken for the Recreational Trails Program. Section 1524(b)(2) of MAP 21 exempts such contracts and cooperative agreements from Federal-aid highway program contracting requirements under 23 U.S.C. 112. Since the FAST Act continues the program, this exemption from the 23 U.S.C. 112 contracting requirements is continued.

States must use 30 percent of their funds for motorized trail uses, 30 percent for nonmotorized trail uses, and 40 percent for diverse trail uses. Diverse motorized projects (such as snowmobile and motorcycle) or diverse nonmotorized projects (such as pedestrian and equestrian) may satisfy two of these categories at the same time. States are encouraged to consider projects that benefit both motorized and nonmotorized users, such as common trailhead facilities. Tennessee gives credit in their selection criteria to projects that benefit multiple trail uses.

Recreational Trails Program funds may not be used for:

These funds are intended for recreational trails; they may not be used to improve roads for general passenger vehicle use or to provide sidewalks along roads unless the sidewalks are critical and necessary to complete a trail link.

A project proposal solely for trail planning would not be eligible (except a State may use its administrative funds for statewide trail planning). However, some project development costs may be allowable if they are a relatively small part of a particular trail maintenance, facility development, or construction project. States may allow some project development costs to be credited toward the non-Federal share.

Tennessee makes grants to municipal, county, State, and Federal government agencies. Tennessee also makes grants to private organizations that are State of Tennessee chartered non profit organizations, have 501(c)(3) status, and have a written agreement for trail work with the public agency. Also, these projects must take place on publicly owned land.

In Tennessee, the governor has appointed TDEC-RES to be the agency responsible for administering apportionments under the Recreational Trails Program. TDEC is also responsible for assuring that all Federal-aid projects with RTP funds administered by local/State/Federal/non-profit grantees comply with all Federal and State requirements (23 U.S.C. 206(c)).

Some funds for motorized trails are credited to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). This agency uses the funds to develop and maintain motorized trails and to administer and enforce the provisions of the Tennessee Off-Highway Vehicle Act (T.C.A. 70-9-101 et seq.). A 2010 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between TWRA and TDEC for the Operation of an Off-Highway Vehicle Grant Program establishes an amount of $225,000 of RTP funds to be awarded to TWRA in FY 2011 - 2012, with that amount increasing in subsequent years based on the average consumer price index, but not to exceed 75% of the total motorized funds received from the RTP. If TWRA desires to receive additional funds over the limits set in the MOA, the agency may apply for and be awarded grants in addition to the maximum amounts.

4. Regulations, Guidance, Agreements and Manuals



Consultant services funded in whole, or in part, with Federal-aid highway program funds shall be procured and administered in accordance with the requirements of the Uniform Administrative Requirements (2 C.F.R. 200). In addition, contracts for engineering and design related services which utilize Federal-aid highway program funds and are directly related to an ultimate construction project must also comply with the requirements established in 23 U.S.C. 112 and 23 C.F.R. 172. Engineering and design related services are defined as "program management, construction management, feasibility studies, preliminary engineering, design, engineering, surveying, mapping or architectural related services" (as specified in 23 U.S.C. 112(b)(2)(A) and 23 C.F.R. 172.3).

Note that the provisions of the Davis-Bacon Act and the convict labor provisions of 23 U.S.C. 114 are only applicable on construction projects that are within the right-of-way of a Federal-aid highway, and not to non-highway projects or to projects outside of a Federal-aid highway. A Federal-aid highway is defined as a highway on the Federal-aid highway system (the National Highway System (NHS) and interstates) and all other public roads not classified as local roads or rural minor collectors.

5. Required Contract Provisions

Form FHWA-1273 (revised May 1, 2012) must be physically incorporated in each construction contract funded under Title 23. The contractor (or subcontractor) must insert this form in each subcontract and further require its inclusion in all lower tier subcontracts. Certain provisions will only apply under specific conditions; therefore each provision has an applicability section. Form FHWA-1273 provisions include:

  1. Nondiscrimination - this provision ensures fair treatment of all persons regardless of race, religion, sex, color, national origin, age, or disability. The authority for this provision is Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. The nondiscrimination provision is applicable to all Federal-aid contracts and subcontracts with a prime contract value greater than $10,000.
  2. Non-segregated facilities - this provision prevents the use of segregated facilities, and is applicable to all Federal-aid contracts and subcontracts with a prime contract value greater than $10,000.
  3. Davis-Bacon and Related Act Provisions - this provision enforces the Davis-Bacon Act (payment of fair wages) and the Copeland Act (prevention of kickbacks required from employees). This provision is applicable on all Federal-aid projects with a prime contract value greater than $2,000 that are constructed within the right-of-way of a Federal-aid highway, excluding roadways functionally classified as local roads or rural minor collectors.
  4. Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act - this provision applies to any Federal-aid construction contract with a prime value greater than $100,000 and subject to the overtime provisions of the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act.
  5. Subletting or Assigning the Contract - this provision requires the contractor to perform at least 30% of the work and is applicable to all Federal-aid construction contracts on the National Highway System.
  6. Safety - Accident Prevention - this provision ensures compliance with construction safety standards and is applicable to all Federal-aid construction contracts and to all related subcontracts.
  7. False Statements Concerning Highway Projects - this provision derives from an anti-fraud statute contained in the Federal-aid Road Act of 1916 and is applicable to all Federal-aid construction contracts and to all related subcontracts.
  8. Implementation of Clean Air Act and Federal Water Pollution Control Act - this provision prevents the use of facilities (such as asphalt or concrete plants) that do not meet air and water quality standards. It is applicable to all Federal-aid construction contracts and to all related subcontracts.
  9. Certification Regarding Debarment, Suspension, Ineligibility and Voluntary Exclusion - this provision requires the contractor to certify as to their current eligibility status. This provision is applicable to all Federal-aid construction contracts of $25,000 or more.
  10. Certification Regarding Use of Contract Funds for Lobbying - this provision carries out a law which prohibits Federal funds from being expended to influence, or attempt to influence, a Federal agency or Congress in connection with the awarding of any Federal contract or grant. It is only applicable to Federal-aid construction contracts of $100,000 or more.

Examples of situations where the Form FHWA-1273 provisions are required to be included in the contract:

  1. TDEC has a grant contract with a local/State/Federal government or non-profit grantee, and the grantee's forces will perform the work - the Form FHWA-1273 provisions will be included in the grant contract between TDEC and the grantee.
  2. TDEC has a grant contract with a local/State/Federal government or non-profit grantee, and the grantee hires a contractor to perform the work - the Form FHWA-1273 provisions will not be included in the grant contract between TDEC and the grantee, but will be included in the construction contract between the grantee and the construction contractor, and will also be included in any construction sub-contracts.
  3. TDEC has a grant contract with a local/State/Federal government or non-profit (grantee). Some of the work will be performed by the grantee's forces, and the grantee will hire a contractor to perform some of the work - the Form FHWA-1273 provisions will be included in the grant contract between TDEC and the grantee, as well as in the construction contract between the grantee and the construction contractor, and will also be included in any construction sub-contracts.

Examples of situations where the Form FHWA-1273 provisions are not required to be included in the contract:

  1. TDEC has a grant contract that does not involve construction, as defined in 23 U.S.C. 101(a)(4). Examples would be land acquisition, development of a trail safety program, trail design and maintenance training and statewide trail planning. Contracts for projects that do not involve construction do not need to include the Form FHWA-1273 provisions.

6. Other Federal Requirements

These Federal requirements are in addition to those listed on Form FHWA-1273, and will be included in contracts as noted:

  1. Buy America - The FHWA's regulations implementing the Buy America provisions require domestic manufacturing processes for steel and iron products that are permanently incorporated in a Federal-aid project. The regulations include a minimal use criteria and waiver provisions where appropriate (see 23 C.F.R. 635.410). Trail grooming vehicles and mechanized equipment primarily constructed with steel or iron must comply with Buy America requirements or TDEC must request a waiver. Refer to Attachment C.
    See the Federal Highway Administration website for RTP Guidance at TDEC submitted a programmatic agreement letter to the Division Office on February 24, 2015, which outlines the requirements to receive a conditional Buy America waiver for the purchase of on-road vehicles, trail grooming vehicles, and mechanized equipment primarily constructed with steel or iron. The programmatic agreement is incorporated as part of this Stewardship and Oversight Plan. The February 24, 2015 programmatic agreement will be included in all applicable contracts.
  2. Disadvantaged Business Enterprise - this requirement sets goals for the use of disadvantaged businesses. The lead State Agency (Tennessee Department of Transportation) has the responsibility for meeting the 10% goal.
  3. Suspension and Debarment - refer to 2 C.F.R. 200.212. TDEC includes suspension and debarment provisions in all grant contracts.
  4. Audits - refer to 23 U.S.C. 112, 48 C.F.R. 31, and 2 C.F.R. 200.500 through 200.520. This is for information only and does not need to be included in contracts.
  5. Records Retention - TDEC should include the records retention requirement in the contract with the local/State/Federal/non-profit (grantee). "Financial records, supporting documents, statistical records and all other non-Federal entity records pertinent to a Federal award must be retained for a period of three years from the date of submission of the final expenditure report". Refer to 2 C.F.R. 200.333. The non-Federal entity (local or State government grantee), or Federal grantee, is responsible for complying with this requirement, along with all other requirements of the Federal award. Refer to 2 C.F.R. 300(b).
  6. Section 4(f) - The RTP Legislation in 23 U.S.C. 206(h)(2) exempts the RTP from the requirements of Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966 (23 U.S.C. 138; 49 U.S.C. 303). This allows the USDOT/FHWA to approve RTP projects which are located on land within publicly owned parks or recreation areas without requiring a waiver or other Section 4(f) documentation. Section 206(h)(2) does not exempt the RTP from requirements under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended (54 U.S.C. 306108). It also does not exempt the RTP from requirements under Section 6(f)(3) of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965 (54 U.S.C. 200301 et seq., 36 C.F.R. 59.3). This information does not need to be included in contracts.

7. FAST Act

The Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST) was enacted on December 4, 2015. The FAST Act is the first Federal law in over 10 years to provide long-term funding certainty for surface transportation. The FAST Act authorizes $305 billion over Fiscal Years 2016 through 2020 for the Department's highway, highway and motor vehicle safety, public transportation, motor carrier safety, hazardous materials safety, rail, and research, technology and statistics programs. Funding for the RTP is a set-aside from the Transportation Alternatives funds for those States that choose not to opt out of the program. The Governor may opt out of the RTP by notifying FHWA not later than 30 days prior to apportionments being made in any fiscal year. Under the FAST Act, Tennessee will receive funding for FY 2016 in an amount equal to the State's FY 2009 RTP apportionment, or $1,640,613. From this amount, 1%, or $16,406, is returned to the FHWA for administration, for a net amount of $1,624,207. This section will be updated and revised as needed by FHWA without requiring either party to re-sign the document.

8. Rescissions of Federal-aid Funds

Several Federal legislative acts have rescinded Federal-aid highway program funds. FHWA issues Notices to the States to comply with these acts (see; go to the N4510 series). The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) is responsible for complying with these rescissions, which may affect the RTP. TDEC will coordinate rescissions of RTP funds with TDOT.

Section 2: Responsibilities

1. FHWA Responsibilities

The FHWA is ultimately accountable for all Federal-aid projects. The FHWA Tennessee Division will fulfill its stewardship role at a project level as follows:

  1. Involvement on RTP Projects - At its discretion, the FHWA may become involved with any Federal-aid project, including those administered under the Recreational Trails Program. Additionally TDEC may request FHWA involvement. The FHWA will provide engineering support for project development activities and technical assistance as requested.
  2. Non-Title 23 Responsibility - FHWA will continue to be responsible for the oversight of applicable non-Title 23 requirements. Such oversight will be conducted through a combination of both project and program level activities. Applicable non-Title 23 requirements include, but are not limited to:
    • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969
    • National Historic Preservation Act
    • Clean Water Act
    • Endangered Species Act
    • Civil Rights Act of 1964
    • Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Properties Acquisition Policies Act of 1970
    • Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program (DBE)
    • Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990

The FHWA will manage and provide oversight of Tennessee's Federal-Aid programs in various ways. Some of the methods used include:

  1. Opt out Provision - On or about August 1st of each year, the FHWA will send a letter to the Commissioners of both TDOT and TDEC to inquire if the State desires to opt out of the RTP. If the State chooses to opt out, this agreement is no longer in effect.
  2. Tribal consultation - the Chickasaw Nation has requested that correspondence and consultation regarding Federal-aid projects be exclusively between FHWA and the tribe. TDEC will forward project information to FHWA for consultation with the Chickasaw Nation. If the Chickasaw Nation responds, FHWA will forward the response to TDEC. If no response is received within a 30-day time period, FHWA will notify TDEC that there has been no response from the tribe. FHWA will provide TDEC with updated Tribal consultation areas and tribal contact information as that information is revised.

2. TDEC Responsibilities

In accordance with 23 U.S.C. 206(c)(1), the governor has designated the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) as the agency responsible for administering apportionments made to the State. The Recreation Educational Services (RES) Division manages the grants for TDEC.

TDEC hereby advises FHWA that it wishes to assume project oversight responsibilities in accordance with the following:

  1. Recreational Trails Projects - TDEC assumes oversight responsibility for the right-of-way approval, utility approval, design approval, plans, specifications, estimates, contract award, and inspection of projects. RTP projects are required to be designed, constructed, operated, and maintained in accordance with State law, regulations, directives, safety standards, design standards, and construction standards, in lieu of many Title 23 U.S.C. requirements. Title 23 U.S.C. requirements that are applicable to all Federal-aid projects include, but are not limited to, procurement of professional services, Davis-Bacon wage rates (on projects constructed in Federal-aid highway right-of-way on highways functionally classified as arterials or collectors), advertising for bids, award of contracts, use of convict produced materials, Buy America Act provisions and other requirements. All RTP projects must also comply with Federal requirements not found in Title 23 U.S.C.
  2. Local/State/Federal/non-profit Agency Projects - TDEC is responsible for assuring that all Federal-aid projects administered by local/State/Federal/non-profit agencies comply with all applicable Federal and State requirements, and must monitor performance schedules of grantees to assure they are achieved. TDEC is not relieved of this responsibility even though the project may be delegated to the local/State/Federal agency. In accordance with 23 C.F.R. 1.11 and 635.105, TDEC is responsible for ensuring that the local/State/Federal agency is qualified and equipped to administer the project and has processes in place to ensure compliance with Federal requirements.
  3. TDEC agrees to submit invoices to FHWA a minimum of once every two months. Invoices will include itemized reimbursement amounts.

For those projects for which TDEC has agreed to assume oversight responsibility, TDEC will follow all applicable FHWA policies, regulations, Title 23, and non-Title 23 requirements as if FHWA were involved.

Section 3: Stewardship roles and responsibilities for specific program areas

1. State Advisory Committee

TDEC agrees to continue the State Recreational Trails Advisory Committee that represents both motorized and nonmotorized recreational trail users, and agrees to certify each year that the Committee shall meet not less often than once per fiscal year. The Tennessee RTP advisory committee is the TDEC Commissioner's Council on Greenways and Trails (the Council). TDEC agrees to invite the FHWA program manager for the Recreational Trails Program to attend the meetings as an Ex-Officio member, and agrees to supply meeting information to the program manager by handouts, mail or electronically.

The major functions provided by the Council include setting goals and priorities for projects and providing direction and review for the RTP grant process.

2. Tennessee Department of Transportation Involvement

As with FHWA, TDEC agrees to invite a representative of the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) to be an Ex-Officio member on the Commissioner's Council on Greenways and Trails and to supply that person with all Council information via handouts, mail or electronically. TDOT has received quarterly reports concerning greenway and trail activities and accomplishments. TDEC agrees to meet monthly with TDOT to discuss and resolve bicycle and pedestrian issues that impact greenways and trails.

3. Project Eligibility

TDEC determines project eligibility by referencing the most currently available Recreational Trails Program guidance provided by FHWA. TDEC uses this guidance in the creation of each grant cycle application. TDEC also references Title 23 United States Code (23 U.S.C.), Section 206 - Recreational Trails Program. FHWA has the final authority to make determinations of project eligibility, and will reject authorization of funds to any project it deems ineligible. On projects for which eligibility is unclear, TDEC agrees to collaborate early in the process with the FHWA RTP program manager to determine eligibility.

4. Diverse, Motorized, and Nonmotorized Minimum Requirements

For the apportionments made to a State for a fiscal year to carry out the RTP;

TDEC agrees to provide documentation to FHWA demonstrating that the 40-30-30 requirements are met or that the State has set aside, for future obligation, the amount of funds necessary to meet the requirements. This will be done every two years, with each new grant cycle.

5. State Recreational Plan

23 U.S.C. 206(d)(1)(B) notes that funds apportioned to a State to carry out the Recreational Trails Program shall be obligated for recreational trails and related projects that are identified in, or further a specific goal of, a recreational trail plan. TDEC agrees to develop and maintain this plan. Currently, this is the "Tennessee 2020: Vision for Parks, People & Landscapes", which may be found on line at .

6. Project Applications

State, Federal and local government agencies are eligible to apply for funding through the Recreational Trails Program. Private, non-profit organizations may apply in partnership with a government agency. These partnerships must be official and in writing. Private applicants may be considered without a public partner if there are insufficient applications submitted within a specific category.

TDEC agrees to maintain the grant application for RTP funds on the TDEC - RES web site and to make it available to potential applicants when requested in writing.

Once the applications are received by TDEC, a committee chooses the recipients by reviewing the applications received against an established criteria listed in the open project selection process.

7. Grant Contract

Once the grantees are chosen, and FHWA has authorized the project, TDEC will contract with the grantee in order to receive the allocated grant funds. These contracts are developed by the RES Grants Administrator. Except for budget revisions, any change to any part of a grant requires a contract amendment.

In most cases, the grantee will have no more than three years from the approval date of the grant contract to complete the scope of a development project. Construction must begin within 120 days of the signing of the contract.

A mandatory grant procedures workshop is required for all grant recipients after grant award.

8. Matching Funds Requirements

An RTP grant provides 80% of the total project cost, requiring a 20% matching share from the applicant. Eligible matching sources are as follows:

The RTP continues to allow other Federal program funds to provide the non-Federal share, and RTP funds may be used to match other Federal funds. There is a requirement that 5% of the project funds must come from a non-Federal source. Only planning and environmental assessment costs incurred less than 18 months prior to project approval may be counted toward the non-Federal share. Other costs incurred prior to project approval may not be used as a match. The value of donations for a match is determined by the nature of the donation. If it is land, for example, it is determined by a fair market value land appraisal. If it is materials, the value is determined by the normal rate for the particular material in that area. If it is routine (non-professional) labor, it is valued at Federal minimum wage. TDEC will specify to FHWA the source of the non-Federal matching funds on each RTP project. This will be shown on the obligating POFA document.

9. Environmental Process

In accordance with 23 U.S.C. 139, the FHWA is the lead Federal agency in integrating the full range of environmental requirements under a single, unified process that results in effective and sound transportation decisions. These laws and regulations include:

The Recreational Trails Program is legislatively exempt from the Section 4(f) requirement.
For all projects that require an action be taken by FHWA, the Tennessee Division and TDEC will work together to ensure compliance with NEPA and other applicable laws. The level of involvement is commensurate with the level of the environmental impacts or project complexity and will depend on the project environmental documentation class.

Recreational Trails Program projects must document compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other Federal environmental laws and executive orders. Each project is reviewed individually to ensure it does not have a significant impact on the environment.

Environmental documentation for recreational trails projects is generally in the form of Categorical Exclusions (CE), and most often fits under 23 C.F.R. 771.117(c)(3), construction of bicycle and pedestrian lanes, paths, and facilities. The actions described in this section normally do not require approval by FHWA.

The processing of Categorical Exclusions for RTP projects is defined by the "Programmatic Agreement between FHWA and TDEC Regarding the Processing of Actions Classified as Categorical Exclusions for Recreational Trails Program Projects". While the CEs normally do not require FHWA approval, the Programmatic Agreement lists nine thresholds, which, if any are met by a project, requires TDEC to forward the CE to FHWA for review and approval. Refer to Attachment A. FHWA will review the document within 30 days.

Technical studies required to complete the CEs are submitted to TDEC by the grantees. After receipt of all applicable studies, TDEC then prepares the final environmental documentation. The CEs are stored in TDEC's project files, and are subject to FHWA review at any time. FHWA has provided a standard template to be used for preparation of environmental documentation for the "c list" CEs. In addition, a random sampling of TDOT and TDEC CEs are reviewed once per year.

Many RTP projects are exempt from air quality conformity requirements under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. New parking areas or motorized trails within air quality nonattainment or maintenance areas may be subject to the air quality conformity rule, and must be identified in a conforming transportation plan and Transportation Improvement Program. All projects in a PM 2.5 non-attainment or maintenance area must undergo a PM 2.5 hot-spot analysis, which includes an interagency consultation. TDEC coordinates this review with the TDOT environmental section.

Grantees generally choose consultants to prepare the required environmental documentation. TDEC requires that grantees use their own locally adopted consultant procurement process. If there is not a locally adopted procurement process, the State's process must be used. Per State law, professional services do not have to be bid.

10. Project Authorization

The TDEC grant cycle occurs every other year, and TDEC agrees to forward a funding list to FHWA. Once the environmental process is completed and approved for projects on the funding list, TDEC will send an RTP obligation form (POFA) for project authorization to the FHWA Division Office. Authorization is completed by the Tennessee Division Financial Team, and the project is entered into the Fiscal Management Information System (FMIS). Projects will not be advertised nor will work by the grantee staff workforce begin prior to FHWA project authorization.

11. Right-of-Way Issues

The majority of projects involving RTP funds do not require the acquisition of right-of-way. Most projects are on land that is already publicly owned, or are in permanent easement situations.

TDEC agrees to ensure that for projects that do involve the Uniform Act, the procedures are being followed. TDEC agrees that a yellow book appraisal is required, and that a certified State appraiser provides a 2nd level review of the appraisal. TDEC agrees to provide the landowner with written documentation stating that their property cannot be taken by condemnation and that they can receive fair market value for the land to be acquired.

To protect property acquired or developed with RTP funds, the grantee will record the Notice of Limitation of Use (NLU) against the deed prior to requesting reimbursement. This protects the property for public outdoor recreation use. A 25 year commitment is required if the project is located on public or private lands that includes an easement or lease.

12. Grant Management

RTP projects not located within a public highway right-of-way must use procurement procedures under 2 C.F.R. 200.317 through 200.326. Procurement for an RTP project within a public highway right-of-way must use procedures under 23 C.F.R. Parts 635 and 636, including projects that are administered by an agency other than the TDOT. Where Parts 635 and 636 mention State, State Transportation Department, or STD, this may be interpreted as meaning the State agency administering the RTP.

13. Design Issues

Design standards for most projects conform to the agency specifications for the specific type of trail development or maintenance project being undertaken. Agencies with design standards include the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Tennessee State Parks and the Tennessee Division of Forestry. TDOT bicycle and pedestrian trail standards are used for hard-surfaced greenway trails. FHWA refers to several manuals and guides at

RES also references design guidelines developed by other organizations such as equestrian guidelines from Clemson University, the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), and the Student Conservation Association (SCA) when those types of trail projects are developed. TDEC also refers applicants to their "Pathways to Trail Building" booklet ( for design ideas and techniques, as well as to their booklet Greenways 101 - General Advice for the Development of a Hard-Surfaced Greenway Project ( , which was designed to give local communities tips and advice on developing multi-use greenway trails.

All designs are submitted to TDEC for approval. Prior to beginning construction, there is a preconstruction meeting between the grant recipient and the principal RES, Parks and Recreation Technical Assistance Service (PARTAS) consultant for the project. Design and construction issues are discussed at this meeting. Progress inspections are performed throughout the process. If any changes are made to the design, a request for a project scope change has to be submitted and approved. No final reimbursement or closeout will occur until the project passes a final inspection conducted by the principal PARTAS consultant.

14. Trail Accessibility

TDEC-RES stipulates that all grantees have their facilities comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards and specifications. If non-compliance is found through project inspections, the grantee is contacted and required to bring the item in question into compliance. Some trails, particularly backcountry trails and mountain bike trails, are not possible to construct to ADA compliance. TDEC agrees to seek opportunities to construct trails that can be used by the disabled, and agrees that barriers should not be erected.

TDEC references the United States Access Board's "Final Guidelines for Outdoor Developed Areas", published September 26, 2013 ( While these guidelines apply specifically to projects on Federal lands or projects constructed by a Federal agency, FHWA recommends using them on Federal-aid projects, as they are the best guidelines available for recreational trails. TDEC includes representative ADA specification drawings for restrooms and trailhead support facilities in the grant application manual. A section on ADA accessible trails is included in TDEC's "Pathways to Trail Building".

FHWA recognizes the need for the transportation system to be accessible to all users, and includes guidance on the Civil Rights web page at

15. Permits

The grant applicant requests all environmental clearances and permits after the grant is awarded. Permits are not often required; however, when they are, the project cannot proceed until they are acquired.

16. Construction Monitoring and Inspection

TDEC reviews the contracts, gives written concurrence on the contracts and concurs in the award of the projects.

Project inspections are performed by the PARTAS consultant. All projects receive project inspections. The consultant prepares written inspection reports, and these reports are included in the project file. Types and frequency of inspections are as follows:

d. Post Completion Inspections are conducted every five years after project completion.

Upon completion of the project, the grantee submits a Project Completion Certification Form (PCC), which triggers the final inspection.
A computer reminder alerts the RES staff that the 5-year inspections are due, and an arrangement is made for the inspections to be carried out.

17. Other Construction Issues

Materials are discussed at the pre-design conference. TDEC uses the latest requirements in the selection of materials for trails projects. TDEC also reviews the materials selection when they develop the grant contract. Also, the grantee's contract states that the grantee shall comply with the applicable Federal statutes, including the Buy America provision.

FHWA encourages States to use the Youth Conservation Corps program to assist with construction of projects. Further information may be found on FHWA's Transportation Alternatives Program web page at

18. Civil Rights

TDOT is responsible for the State's oversight of the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program for all Federal-aid transportation funds received in the State. There is no need for special DBE compliance under the RTP as a separate program. TDEC places an emphasis on contacting and contracting with DBEs at the grant workshops and in the grant manual. Small business participation is also an item of discussion in the pre-design conference.

The RTP is a small program, and its DBE numbers would likely be quite small as compared to the overall TDOT budget. Generally on RTP projects, there is only one contractor, with no sub-contractors, or the project is constructed with the grantee's own staff (grantee staff workforce).

19. Financial Issues

Under 23 U.S.C. 118(b)(2), the "period of availability" for obligation of apportioned funds is four fiscal years: the current year, plus 3 years. The funds are treated in a "first in, first out" manner; older year funds are considered obligated before newer year funds. The unobligated balance of funds will be withdrawn if the unobligated balance exceeds the sum of the apportionments issued for the current fiscal year and the three prior fiscal years.

A State may use up to 7% of its RTP apportionments for administrative costs, and up to 5% for educational programs. Administrative costs include costs to administer the program, including staff time, meetings of the advisory committee, attendance at meetings or conferences, newsletters and websites, supplies/equipment, travel, and statewide trail planning. Educational costs include educational programs that promote safety and environmental protection as they relate to the use of recreational trails. This includes development and operation of trail safety and environmental education programs, and the production of trail-related educational materials. TDEC agrees to provide FHWA with a funding list near the beginning of each two-year grant cycle.

TDEC submits a Federal-Aid Project Approval and/or Authorization form (POFA) to FHWA for authorization of funds. Project agreements in FMIS must include a "Period of Performance", which includes a start and end date for the project. The start date is the date of authorization, which will be effective upon the final signature by the FHWA Financial Manager. The end date must be included by TDEC on the POFA, and is based on the estimated project schedule, including the required processes to ensure all Federal requirements have been satisfied. The end date is the date after which no new costs can be incurred by the State. Any work performed after the end date is not eligible for reimbursement. The end date may be extended under certain circumstances, such as documented revisions to project schedules. Other items required on the POFA include the indirect cost rate and the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number.

Financial transactions are processed directly thru the Financial Team at the Tennessee Division Office of FHWA. TDOT is not involved in the financial transactions with this program. At TDEC, the Grants Administrator tracks the available funds.

Some funds for motorized trails are credited to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). This agency administers and enforces the provisions of the Tennessee Off-Highway Vehicle Act (T.C.A. Section 70-9-101 to Section 70-9-107).

Cost principals are obtained from 2 C.F.R. 200 (Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards).

TDEC's Division of Internal Audit conducts audits on grantees.

The grantee is responsible for maintaining an accounting of the project according to the "Accounting Manual for the Recipients of Grant Funds in the State of Tennessee".

20. Project Close-Outs

Recreational trail projects are closed out in accordance with 2 C.F.R 200.343 and the RTP close-out procedures. Refer to Attachment B. TDEC will close-out the Federal award when it determines that all applicable administrative actions and all required work of the Federal award have been completed. TDEC will ensure that the grantee submits, no later than 90 calendar days after the end date of the period of performance, all financial, performance and other reports as required by the terms and conditions of the Federal award. Also, unless an extension is given to the grantee, the grantee must liquidate all obligations incurred under the Federal award not later than 90 calendar days after the end date of the period of performance. All close-out actions must be completed no later than one year after receipt and acceptance of all required final reports.

21. Records

Project information may also be kept on the RES Grants Database. When the grant is closed it goes into permanent files and/or is placed on microfilm. Invoices are disposed of 3 years after project close-out. These project files are subject to FHWA inspection at any time.
Each project requires a Maintenance Plan to assure that projects are managed in a safe and attractive manner. Maintenance Plans are turned in as part of the grant application.

22. Communication

TDEC and FHWA agree to meet quarterly to discuss any issues related to the RTP. TDEC and FHWA agree to respond to all inquiries within 5 days of receipt. Phone calls, US mail, email, and face to face meetings are all acceptable forms of communication.

Section 4: Implementation of the Oversight Agreement:

FHWA and TDEC enter into this agreement to conduct project oversight activities for the Recreational Trails Program in accordance with the above stipulated agreement elements and parameters.

The Stewardship and Oversight Plan outlines responsibilities and accountability for FHWA and TDEC. The purpose of the Plan is to clarify actions, prevent misinterpretations, and avoid time delays. The Stewardship and Oversight Plan is intended to be a living document that can be modified when needed to incorporate additional legislation, additional processes, or other changes to improve program and project delivery in the State of Tennessee. The Stewardship and Oversight Plan will be reviewed approximately once every two years, and upon enactment of a transportation authorization bill, by TDEC and FHWA to determine if any changes need to be made.

The Division Administrator of FHWA Tennessee Division or the Commissioner of TDEC may initiate amendments to this Agreement and/or changes to the Stewardship and Oversight Plan should essential modifications become apparent to either party.

Pamela M. Kordenbrock
Division Administrator
Tennessee Division
Federal Highway Administration


Robert J. Martineau, Jr.
Tennessee Department of
Environment and Conservation



Programmatic Agreement between FHWA and TDEC Regarding the Processing of Actions Classified as Categorical Exclusions for Recreational Trails Programs Projects, July 7, 2016


Recreational Trails Program (RTP) Close-Out Process for TDEC-RES and FHWA, Tennessee Division


Programmatic agreement letter regarding conditional Buy America waivers for the purchase of on-road vehicles, trail grooming vehicles and mechanized equipment primarily constructed with steel or iron, dated February 24, 2015

Updated: 1/31/2017
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