Ever get lost on the Oak Leaf Traill? Last week a regional committee approved $4.14 million in federal Transportation Alternative Program funds for 12 grant applications, including a project to add new way finding signs to the Oak Leaf Trail. The committee voted to fund that project and 11 other projects and programs to improve bicycling and walking in ten southeastern Wisconsin communities.
Table 1 below shows all 15 applications totaling $7.61 million that made it through the Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation’s initial scoping process.
Table 2 shows all the projects that will receive funds based on their ranking by the members of the Advisory Committee on Transportation System Planning and Programming in the Milwaukee Urbanized Area, which is coordinated by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC), the official metropolitan planning organization (MPO) and regional planning commission (RPC) for the seven county southeastern Wisconsin area. SEWRPC consists of 21 members, three from each of the seven member counties of Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington, and Waukesha.
There is a total of $6 million allocated for transportation projects to be funded in the years 2014 through 2018 with Federal Highway Administration Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) funding, MPOs in other areas will make similar decisions for the remaining funds. This process is part of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) Federal transportation legislation enacted in 2012 , which created TAP to provide funding for a range of alternative transportation projects. The TAP is intended to be a new, single source of funding for such projects. The Federal TAP funding for the Milwaukee urbanized area incorporates the following two Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) multi-modal Federally funded transportation improvement programs:
- Safe Routes to School (SRTS)
- Transportation Enhancements (TE)
Taking into account previous SRTS and TE project commitments within the Milwaukee urbanized area, WisDOT has indicated that a total of approximately $6 million in Federal TAP funding for State fiscal years 2014 through 2018, or less than .2% of our nearly $3 billion state transportation budget.
Even though that is just a drop in the bucket, and reports show Americans are driving less and bicycling more, it seems clear communities are going to have to find other sources of money for bicycling and walking projects and programs. With$7.61 million in applications for a pot of $4.14 million, many worthy projects will not be funded and as SEWRPC Executive Director, Ken Yunker, put it “many people will be disappointed.” The bigger picture is that our entire federal transportation system is about to run into the red by August, even the less than one percent of our transportation budget spent on bicycling and walking could be in jeopardy.
These grant applications will still need to be signed by Governor Walker, and as we mentioned, the funds are for the fiscal years 2014-2018, so it will take some time before these projects and programs get started.
Stay tuned to our blog and social media for reports on the remaining funds for the rest of the state and updates on the federal transportation funding crisis.
Click here to read the complete agenda for the meeting.