The Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) was authorized by the most recent Federal transportation funding act, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), which was signed into law on July 6, 2012. The TAP redefines the former Transportation Enhancements activities and consolidates these eligibilities with the former Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program.
On January 15, 2013, the Iowa Transportation Commission approved the implementation of MAP-21 as it relates to Transportation Alternatives in which the majority of TAP funding will be distributed to the Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and the Regional Planning Affiliations (RPAs) while the Iowa DOT will retain $1,000,000 for the implementation of the Statewide Transportation Alternatives Program. This program is intended to provide worthy projects and initiatives that are statewide or multi-regional in nature an opportunity to receive TAP funding.
Safe Routes to School key points
- Funding awards made by MPOs and RPAs.
- Reimbursement program with 80 percent federal share and 20 percent local share.
- Eligible applicants are local and state governments, schools (both public and private), and regional agencies. Non-eligible applicants may partner with an eligible applicant.
- Primary beneficiaries must be Kindergarten through 8th Grade students.
- Infrastructure projects must be within two miles of a school and on public property or private land with legal public-access easements.
- Project implementation administered by the Iowa DOT.
- Award recipients must comply with stringent federal and state funding requirements.
Infrastructure projectsInfrastructure projects must improve pedestrian and bicycle safety and access. Some examples include:
- Sidewalk improvements: new sidewalks, sidewalk widening, sidewalk gap closures, sidewalk repairs, curbs, gutters, and curb ramps.
- Traffic calming and speed reduction improvements: roundabouts, bulb-outs, speed humps, raised crossings, raised intersections, median refuges, narrowed traffic lanes, lane reductions, full- or half-street closures, automated speed enforcement, and variable speed limits.
- Pedestrian and bicycle crossing improvements: crossings, median refuges, raised crossings, raised intersections, school crossing traffic control devices (including new or upgraded traffic signals, pavement markings, traffic stripes, in-roadway crossing lights, flashing beacons, bicycle-sensitive signal actuation devices, pedestrian countdown signals, vehicle speed feedback signs, and pedestrian activated signal upgrades), and sight distance improvements.
- On-street bicycle facilities: new or upgraded bicycle lanes, widened outside lanes or roadway shoulders, geometric improvements, turning lanes, channelization, roadway realignment,
traffic signs, and pavement markings.
- Off-street bicycle and pedestrian facilities: exclusive, multi-use bicycle and pedestrian trails and pathways separated from a roadway.
- Secure bicycle parking facilities: bicycle parking racks, bicycle lockers, designated areas with safety lighting, and covered bicycle shelters.
- Traffic diversion improvements: separation of pedestrians and bicycles from vehicular traffic adjacent to schools, and traffic diversion away from school zones or designated routes to a school.
If necessary, request a Safe Routes to School - Traffic Engineering Assistance Program (SRTS-TEAP) study be done to evaluate traffic and safety in the area of the school (typically limited to cities with populations under 35,000). http://www.iowadot.gov/traffic/teap.html
Noninfrastructure projectsSAFETEA-LU specifies that eligible noninfrastructure projects are activities that encourage walking and bicycling to school, including: public awareness campaigns and outreach to press and community leaders; traffic education and enforcement in the vicinity of schools; student sessions on bicycle and pedestrian safety, health and the environment; and funding for training, volunteers and managers of SRTS programs. Some examples include:
- creation and reproduction of promotional and educational materials;
- costs to develop a SRTS study or plan;
- bicycle and pedestrian safety curricula, materials and trainers;
- training, including SRTS training workshops that target school- and community-level audiences;
- modest incentives for SRTS contests and incentives that encourage more walking and bicycling over time;
- safety and educational tokens that also advertise the program;
- photocopying, duplicating and printing costs, including CDs, DVDs, etc., and also mailing costs;
- costs for data gathering, analysis, and evaluation reporting at the local project level;
- substitute teacher pay, if needed, to cover for faculty attending SRTS functions during school hours;
- costs for additional law enforcement or equipment needed for enforcement activities;
- equipment and training needed for establishing crossing guard programs;
- stipends for parent or staff coordinators; (typically to reimburse volunteers for materials and expenses needed for coordination and efforts; "Super-volunteer" pay is possible in rare cases.);
- costs to employ a SRTS program manager, which is a person that runs a SRTS program for an entire city, county or some other area-wide division that includes numerous schools; or
- consultant costs (either nonprofit or for-profit) to manage a SRTS program, as described in previous bullet.
What can communities, schools, and others do to prepare for making a grant application?
- Review Iowa's SRTS Encouragement and Education Program website
- Identify community partners and form a local SRTS team
- If necessary, request a Safe Routes to School - Traffic Engineering Assistance Program (SRTS-TEAP) study be done to evaluate traffic and safety in the area of the school (typically limited to cities with populations under 35,000). http://www.iowadot.gov/traffic/teap.html
- Come up with a plan, whether itís on a school, district, city or regional level
- Inventory and prioritize where improvements are needed, with the help of the Walkability Checklist, the Bikeability Checklist, parent surveys and student surveys (See Data Central).
- Learn what is possible, both in infrastructure and policy
- Determine gaps in pedestrian and bicycle safety education
- Start encouragement programs like Walk and Bike to School Day or Walking School Buses and Bike Trains
- Prioritize easy steps and those that require funding