Caltrans is in the process of reviewing hundreds of applications due to an overwhelming response to its call for applications for projects that promote biking and walking.
The 770 applications — more than half benefiting disadvantaged communities — have been received from cities and counties throughout California, totaling nearly $1 billion in project requests. All are vying for a share of $360 million in federal and state funding from the state’s Active Transportation Program, an excess in demand of 3 to 1.
“We are thrilled to see such a tremendous interest in promoting alternative and active forms of transportation throughout California,” Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty said. “This overwhelming response indicates that more local governments recognize that these projects are a good investment and will enhance the mobility, safety and health of their communities.”
The program will receive a total of $360 million, representing three years worth of funding. Fifty percent of that total funding ($180 million) will be awarded via Caltrans to anywhere in the state, and another 10 percent of the total ($36 million) is designated specifically for small urban and rural areas. Projects in large Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) areas (populations over 200,000) that are not awarded funding from Caltrans will still be able to compete for 40 percent of total program funding ($144 million) to be awarded through those MPOs.
Complete information on the program can be found on Caltrans’ website. The California Transportation Commission, Caltrans and external evaluators will review the projects based on adopted guidelines and selection criteria, and the CTC will select projects to receive funding at its Aug. 20 meeting. Applications not selected can still potentially compete for funding allocated to the large MPOs.
Eight teams are overseeing the initial review process. Each team consists of five Caltrans employees and six outside experts (representing cities, counties, local transportation agencies, MPOs, nonprofits and transportation advocacy groups). Each application requires one to two hours to review and will be reviewed by two teams. Local Caltrans offices will also be evaluating proposed projects within their districts and providing recommendations based on project feasibility and proper time and budget estimates.
Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation (Senate Bill 99, Chapter 359 and Assembly Bill 101, Chapter 354) creating the ATP, which distributes funding for human-powered transportation projects and programs. The program replaces a patchwork of small grant programs with a comprehensive program that is more efficient. Another benefit is that funds can be directed to multi-year projects to make greater long-term improvements to active transportation.
Caltrans’ California Household Travel Survey, the largest and most complex review of its kind, underscored the need for active transportation when it revealed that the percentage of trips taken by California households that involve walking, biking, or using public transportation has more than doubled since 2000.
Each year, Caltrans prepares an annual report summarizing programs it has undertaken for the development of non-motorized transportation facilities. For more information on active transportation in California see the 2011-12 Caltrans Report.