Transportation Alternatives

With the passage of MAP-21 in 2012, the Transportation Enhancements no longer exists as a separate program, but is part of a larger program called the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). The TAP combines several programs from SAFETEA-LU, including Transportation Enhancements, Recreational Trails Program, and Safe Routes to School Program. Planning, designing, or constructing roadways within the right-of-way of former interstate routes or other divided highways is also an eligible expense under the TAP.

Available Funding

The TAP accounts for about 2 percent of highway funding, which is significantly less than the combined totals for the same programs under SAFETEA-LU and will be far more difficult to access for preservation activities. Similar to TE, states will receive an apportionment of the TAP funding, but unlike TE, states will not be required to use these funds for solely for TAP projects. Of these funds, a certain percent is set-aside for the Recreational Trails program (unless the state chooses to opt out). Of the remaining funds, 50 percent are sub-allocated by population and 50 percent are available to any part of the state through a competitive process to be developed by states and metropolitan planning organizations. States may “opt-out” of a portion of the funds and direct the dollars to other transportation priorities.

Eligible Activities

The types of activities that had been traditionally eligible for Transportation enhancements funding has been modified to 10 eligible categories as describes below.  Although many of the former TE activities are still eligible categories under the TAP, the following activities are no longer eligible for funding:

  • safety and educational activities for pedestrians and bicycles,
  • acquisition of scenic easements and scenic or historic sites,
  • scenic or historic highway programs (including visitor and welcome centers),
  • operation of historic transportation facilities,
  • archeological planning and research undertaken for proactive planning,
  • and the establishment of transportation museums.

Eligible Catagories

  1. Pedestrian & Bicycle Facilities: Sidewalks, walkways or curb ramps; bike lane striping, wide paved shoulders, bike parking and bus racks; traffic calming; off-road trails; bike and pedestrian bridges and underpasses; ADA compliance.
  2. Safe Routes for Non-Drivers: Access and accommodation for children, older adults, and individuals with disabilities.
  3. Conversion of Abandoned Railway Corridors to Trails: Acquisition of railroad rights-of-way; planning, design and construction of multiuse trails and rail-with-trail projects.
  4. Scenic Turnouts and Overlooks: Construction of scenic turnouts, overlooks, and viewing areas.
  5. Outdoor Advertising Management: Billboard inventories and removal of illegal and nonconforming billboards. Inventory control may include, but not be limited to, data collection, acquisition and maintenance of digital aerial photography, video logging, scanning and imaging of data, developing and maintaining an inventory and control database, and hiring of outside legal counsel.
  6. Historic Preservation & Rehab of Historic Transportation Facilities: Preservation of buildings and facades in historic districts; restoration of historic buildings for transportation-related purposes; access improvements to historic sites. Restoration of railroad depots, bus stations and lighthouses; rehabilitation of rail trestles, tunnels, bridges and canals.
  7. Vegetation Management: Improvement of roadway safety; prevention of invasive species; providing erosion control.
  8. Archaeological Activities: projects related to impacts from implementation of  highway construction projects.
  9. Stormwater Mitigation: Pollution prevention and abatement activities to address stormwater management; water pollution prevention related to highway construction or due to highway runoff.
  10. Wildlife Management: Reduction of vehicle-caused wildlife mortality; restoration and maintenance of connectivity among terrestrial or aquatic habitats.

What you need to know about TAP

  • The Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), like its predecessor, Transportation Enhancements (TE), aims to create jobs, improve the quality of life, capitalize on existing historic resources, and protect the environment.
  • The popularity of TAP is likely to match and exceed that of its predecessor, TE, a program that routinely received more proposals than it could fund. Given the high demand and smaller supply of funding, it will be more difficult to secure funding for preservation-related projects. Preservation advocates need to be involved early and often with state and local decision makers to promote preservation-related projects.
  • Historic preservation projects are still eligible for funding. Preservation of transportation-related historic and cultural resources, including historic bridges and roads, rail depots and other historic transportation facilities, streetscaping, archeology, and interpretive displays are all eligible TAP projects.
  • The TAP can be good for preservation and good for the economy. According to a research report by AASHTO and the Transportation Research Board, transportation enhancement projects were the most labor intensive type of highway spending through the stimulus and generated the most jobs per million dollars spent (17.03) of any kind of highway investment. TAP is likely to have a similar effect on job creation.
  • The TAP is designed to be collaborative. It will encourage interaction among transportation professionals, preservationists, and other civic groups. TAP activities should be integrated with other goals for transportation, historic preservation, tourism, and economic development.