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See Transportation Reauthorization page for more on RTP and related funding issues for trails znd see Supporting Trails page for more on current legislation

Recreational Trails and Transportation Enhancement Proposals

Assuming the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) and Transportation Enhancement (TE) Activities continue, here are ideas for consideration.

Discussion from Coalition for Recreational Trails
April 17, 2009

* Recreational Trails Program: Based on input from States and trail interests, several ideas are presented for consideration in discussions about the RTP. See Draft Recreational Trails Program Ideas to Consider for Authorization: www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/rectrails/authideas09.htm

* Transportation Enhancement Activities
: Based on input from States and TE interests, several ideas are presented for consideration in discussions about the TE Activities. See Draft Transportation Enhancement Activities Ideas to Consider for Authorization: www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/te/authideas09.htm

Surface transportation authorization scenarios regarding the Recreational Trails Program and Transportation Enhancement Activities

There is no official surface transportation (re)authorization legislation yet:

  • There are no officially released Administration proposal texts including or excluding the RTP or TE Activities.
  • There are no officially released Senate or House proposal texts including or excluding the RTP or TE Activities.

There are platforms for consideration, reports, etc.

  • The RTP is not mentioned in the National Surface Transportation and Revenue Study Commission report of January 2008 (see http://transportationfortomorrow.org/). Enhancements are mentioned as part of a larger environmental program, but not necessarily the TE Activities as currently authorized.
  • The RTP is not mentioned in the Administration's proposal of July 2008. TE would be part of a Metropolitan Mobility program and focused to fewer categories.
  • The RTP is not mentioned in proposals from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials released in October 2008, see www.transportation1.org/policysummaries/. TE would continue: see www.transportation1.org/policy%5Ffuture/intro.html.

All these proposals recommend consolidating programs and focusing on national surface transportation needs. None of these proposals mentioned the RTP: they didn't necessarily recommend eliminating the RTP, but they didn't recommend continuing it or using Federal highway trust fund dollars for nonhighway projects. TE appears to have support of most State DOTs, although there may be a desire to narrow eligible TE categories.

Among possible options are:

1. Eliminate the RTP and TE.

2. Consolidate the RTP and TE into a statewide transportation program with broad eligibility but no funding set aside for recreational trails or TE activities. The program would pass through a State transportation agency.

3. Consolidate many DOT programs into (1) a statewide program only for major transportation facilities, and (2) a Metropolitan Mobility Program in which currently eligible program activities would remain eligible, but with no funding setaside: the Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) would select projects. This option conceivably would eliminate statewide programs such as the RTP and TE, although RTP and TE projects would remain eligible for Metropolitan funds. This option is still under consideration.

4. Consolidate the RTP, TE Activities, National Scenic Byways Program, Safe Routes to School (SRTS), Transportation, Community, and System Preservation Program (TCSP), and some Transit programs into a Livability Program administered through the USDOT and through the State DOTs or transit agencies. Allow recreational trails and TE projects to be eligible, but without any setaside funds.

5. Consolidate the RTP within the Transportation Enhancement (TE) Activities or some other Livability Program administered through the USDOT and through State DOTs and/or other agencies. Allow recreational trails to be eligible, with a setaside of funds for recreational trails projects to be administered through State resource agencies.

6. Keep the RTP as is. Keep TE as is.

7. Continue the RTP with some amendments, such as those under consideration through the Coalition for Recreational Trails, and/or possible amendments posted at www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/rectrails/authideas09.htm. Continue TE with some amendments such as those at www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/te/authideas09.htm.

8. Continue the RTP (with or without amendments), but move it to another Federal department. (This does not appear to be an option for TE.)

9. There could be many other options.

But NOTHING is settled until there is signed legislation.

See Transportation Resuthorization page for more on RTP and related funding issues for trails znd see Supporting Trails page for more on current legislation

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