In this issue:
Surface Transportation Authorization discussions are continuing.
The US Department of Transportation proposed to extend the current authorization by 18 months. See the Secretary's June 18 Blog.
The House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee released the Surface Transportation Authorization Act of 2009: "A Blueprint for Investment and Reform". NOTE: This website changes frequently: Transportation Authorization information is on the main page as of June 30, 2009.
The proposed legislation would consolidate most of the large highway funding programs. It would retain some setaside funds: the Transportation Enhancement (TE) Activities would remain a 10% setaside of Surface Transportation Program funds. The proposal would retain several small programs: Safe Routes to School (SRTS), Recreational Trails (RTP), National Scenic Byways (NSB), and add a new US Bicycle Route System (USBRS) program. There are few program changes proposed for the small programs (other than establishing the new USBRS); the programs would continue to operate as they do at present.
The proposed legislation would establish an Office of Livability within the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). This office, among other duties, would administer TE, SRTS, RTP, NSB, and the USBRS. This would not necessarily change in how the programs are administered other than enhancing the ability for consistent program coordination.
Several organizations have thoughts about surface transportation authorization considerations. Disclaimer: The links provided below reflect the views of these organizations. These links do not represent the endorsement by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) updated the 120-day Redistribution Questions and Answers (posted at www.fhwa.dot.gov/economicrecovery/redistribution.htm) to point out that Transportation Enhancement (TE) funds authorized under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 will retain their character as TE funds. This is a change compared to the originally posted Questions and Answers. In particular, see the last Q&A.
However, it appears this is now an irrelevant point, because all States met the 120-day deadline to obligate at least 50 percent of their ARRA funds, so there won’t be any redistribution.
Q: What form will the funds take once they are redistributed to the States? (updated 6/22/2009)
Funds redistributed to a State will be proportionately split between transportation enhancement activities and funds available for use in any area.
For the record, the text was (prior to June 22, 2009):
Q: What form will the funds take once they are redistributed to the States?
Funds redistributed to a State will be available for use in any area (program code C240). Redistributed funds will not be subject to any set-asides or sub-allocations.
FHWA posted information about the ARRA at www.fhwa.dot.gov/economicrecovery/index.htm.
For prior information about ARRA and Transportation Enhancement (TE) Activities posted in the RTP and TE Update, see www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/recreational_trails/rtp_te_update/2009/may/.
The Recovery Act appropriated $1.5 billion of discretionary grant funds to be awarded by the Department of Transportation for capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure. The Department is referring to these grants as "Grants for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery" or "TIGER Discretionary Grants." See the link to Surface Transportation Discretionary Grants (TIGER Grants) at www.fhwa.dot.gov/economicrecovery/index.htm. In general, TIGER grants are for nationally or regionally significant projects for highways, transit, rail, or ports. The Recovery Act specifies that grants funded under the program may be no less than $20 million and no greater than $300 million. However, the Recovery Act gives the Department discretion to waive the $20 million minimum grant size for the purpose of funding significant projects in smaller cities, regions, or States ("Smaller Projects"). The announcement lists expected project outcomes as State of Good Repair, Economic Competitiveness, Livability, Sustainability, and Safety.
FHWA issued Notice 4510.707 on April 13, 2009, to notify the States that $3.150 billion of unobligated Federal-aid highway funds apportioned to States are rescinded as required by Division I, Title I of the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009, Public Law (Pub. L. No.) 111-8. Each State was required to identify the program codes from which amounts were to be rescinded, and inform FHWA by May 13, 2009. FHWA will [eventually] post the responses to these rescissions through a link from the Notice.
Note: Title XI, Subtitle D, Section 1132(a) of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, Pub. L. No. 110-140, required rescissions in FY 2008 to be distributed proportionally: see Notice 4510.673. The 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act removed this requirement for rescissions taken in FY 2009.
Section 10212 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) mandates a rescission of $8.543 billion on September 30, 2009. This text of this section indicates that the rescissions will take place proportionally among the Federal-aid programs.
The National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse released Transportation Enhancements: A Summary of Nationwide Spending as of FY 2008. This is an overview of how States have spent their cumulative TE funds. See www.enhancements.org/.
This item only affects people involved in program audits. The Federal Office of Management and Budget released the OMB Circular A-133 Compliance Supplement, which is used by independent audit agencies and firms in compliance audits of States, local governments, and nonprofit organizations. Part 4 for the Department of Transportation relating to Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance section 20.205 (Federal-aid Highway Program) was modified, including adding the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) within the Federal-aid highway program, and updates to sections on matching shares (especially relating to Transportation Enhancement (TE) activities and the RTP), prevailing wage requirements, and procurement requirements. The Compliance Supplement is consistent with FHWA's TE and RTP guidance.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced [on June 16, 2009] an interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities to help improve access to affordable housing, more transportation options, and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment in communities nationwide.
June was officially designated Great Outdoors Month by President Barack Obama and more than half of America's governors. The proclamations were suggested by a coalition of recreation and conservation organizations, many of which coordinated special events held during June, including National Trails Day®, National Fishing and Boating Week, National Get Outdoors Day, and the Great American Backyard Campout. See www.funoutdoors.com/node/view/2319.
The Coalition for Recreational Trails, a federation of national and regional trail-related organizations, announced its 2009 RTP Achievement Awards to recognize outstanding trail projects funded by the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). The awards were presented in Washington DC during Great Outdoors Week 2009 (June 8-12), on June 10, 2009. This awards program is part of the Coalition's ongoing effort to build awareness and appreciation of the RTP, which has greatly enhanced the quantity and quality of trail experiences available to the public. Awardees are posted on the American Trails RTP Awards website: www.americantrails.org/awards/CRTawards.html. Congratulations to the Winners!
Trail Award for the Canadian Prime Minister
The 41st International Snowmobile Congress took place in Summerside, Prince Edward Island (Canada) on June 10-13, 2009. The ISC brings together snowmobile and groomer manufacturers, leaders of snowmobile organizations, grassroots snowmobilers, snowmobile publication staff, snowmobile administrators, government representatives, and other people interested in snowmobiling. State and Federal staff with snowmobile program responsibilities attend the International Association of Snowmobile Administrators meeting: see www.snowiasa.org. A highlight of the conference was a visit from Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, which can be viewed at www.snowtrailstv.com. See the Press Release at http://pm.gc.ca/eng/media.asp?id=2638.
FHWA Manual Outlines Best Practices, Tools To Reduce Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions
FHWA published Best Practices Manual: Wildlife Vehicle Collision Reduction Study. This is a follow-up to a study and report on wildlife-vehicle collisions submitted to Congress in November 2007. The study and the report to Congress and best practices manual were mandated in 2005 under the Safe, Accountable, Equitable, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). Congress directed the Department of Transportation to conduct a study to identify the causes and impacts of wildlife-vehicle collisions as well as solutions to help prevent such collisions. The study was to be followed by development of a best practices manual "to support State efforts to reduce wildlife vehicle collisions." The Best Practices Manual is at http://environment.fhwa.dot.gov/ecosystems/wvc/index.asp.
The NCHRP Report on Effective Organizational Structures and Management Practices for Achieving Environmental Stewardship in Transportation Agencies includes interviews with 11 DOTs, as well as conclusions and suggested follow up research. The project final report is posted at www.trb.org/NotesDocs/25-25(37)_FR.pdf.
The NCHRP Report 25-25/Task 50 on Finding the Carrot Instead of the Stick - Incentive-based Approaches for Environmental Stewardship includes write-ups on a number of projects with "incentives" for environmental stewardship. The final report is posted at www.trb.org/NotesDocs/25-25(50)_FR.pdf.
Forest Service Trail-Related Publications
The Federal Highway Administration's Recreational Trails Program works with the USDA Forest Service Technology and Development Program to develop trail-related technology and to provide many trail publication to the public. These are available at www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/recreational_trails/publications/fs_publications/. We also have some publications that may not necessarily be directly trail-related, can may be helpful for trail users. Two recent additions include:
Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center
The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) announced the launch of the updated and redesigned pedestrian and bicycle image library at www.pedbikeimages.org. See PBIC's Announcement. The PBIC would like to encourage users to submit their own pedestrian and bicycle-related photos. For the next 6 weeks starting on June 1, users who submit their own related images will be automatically entered in a weekly random drawing. Users will be entered into the drawing for each image they submit, so your odds of winning increase as you submit more photos. The winning recipient for each week will receive one PBIC retroreflective bike pants strap.
National Park Service's Rivers, Trail, and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) program is accepting applications for 2010 RTCA Projects. Deadline: August 1, 2009.
Kodak American Greenways Awards: Applications for the 2009 Kodak American Greenways Program will be accepted through July 15, 2009.
FHWA Planning Update Newsletter, www.fhwa.dot.gov/resourcecenter/teams/planning/publications.cfm, has information and resources about transportation planning.
America's Byways Bulletin, http://www.bywaysonline.org/program/bulletin/, has information related to the National Scenic Byways Program, including conferences and training resources.
National Park Service Conservation and Recreation Newsletter
The National Park Service has a monthly Conservation and Recreation Newsletter.
National Center for Bicycling and Walking: Centerlines
See www.bikewalk.org/newsletter.php. Several of the recent newsletters have several articles of interest both the TE Managers and the trail interests.
League of American Bicyclists: American Bicyclist Update
See www.bikeleague.org/members/e-newsletter_archive.php. Several of the recent newsletters have several articles of interest both the TE Managers and to trail interests.
Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals has an e-newsletter available to members. It provides information on professional development webinars, transportation policy, conferences, member collaboration groups, and more. See www.apbp.org.
Public Lands Advocacy
The National Off Highway Vehicle Conservation Council has Public Lands Advocacy Training available in July 2009. See www.nohvcc.org.
Trail Management: Plans, Projects, and People
October 5-9, 2009, National Conservation Training Center, Shepherdstown, WV
About the course: Public agency trail staff, contractors, and volunteers will learn to achieve sustainable and accessible trails of all kinds, using the best practices of the Trail Management Process. This collaborative process includes planning, design layout, construction, maintenance, monitoring, crew leadership, interpretation, operations, and safety. Field exercises include trail layout, construction and maintenance techniques. Info: Register on-line at https://www.doi.gov/doilearn or Matt Gay (304) 876-7654 - Matt_Gay@fws.gov or Juanita Gustines (304) 876-7956 - Juanita_Gustines@fws.gov
State Trail Administrators Meeting / Southeastern Equestrian Trails Conference: STAM 2009 will be held July 7-8, 2009 immediately prior to the Southeastern Equestrian Trails Conference, July 9-11, 2009, in Gainesville FL.
The 12th Conference on National Scenic and Historic Trails takes place July 12-15, 2009, in Missoula MT. See www.nationaltrailspartnership.org/09_NTS_conf.asp.
2009 Summer Meeting of TRB's Environmental Analysis and Transportation Committee, Looking Beyond the Transportation Footprint, July 13-16, 2009 in Shepherdstown, WV. For the first time in its history the Transportation Research Board's Environmental Analysis and Transportation committee's summer meeting is being hosted by a nongovernmental organization, The Conservation Fund, and is being held at the home of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Conservation Training Center (NCTC). The theme is Looking Beyond the Transportation Footprint: New Partners and New Scales.
The Transportation Enhancement Professionals Seminar takes place August 13-14, 2009, in Washington DC. See www.enhancements.org/seminar/seminarfy09.asp. The primary audience is State Department of Transportation TE Managers and FHWA Division people involved in administering the Transportation Enhancement (TE) Activities.
The National Scenic Byways Conference takes place August 23-26, 2009, in Denver CO.
Southeastern Water Trails Forum, October 29-30, 2009, Chattanooga TN. See www.southeastwaterforum.org/roundtables/default.asp.
See more events at: