A collection of state departments of transportation across the country recently issued funds or opened the application process for grants to support a variety of local safety, transit, mobility, and “transportation alternatives” or TA endeavors, ones usually related to bicycle and pedestrian projects.
[Above photo by the Illinois DOT]
Governor Tom Wolf (D) recently approved Pennsylvania Department of Transportation funding for 64 projects to improve transportation alternatives and enhance mobility and public accessibility statewide – 43 of which receiving fiscal support from the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act enacted in November 2021.
As a result, PennDOT has awarded $54.1 million through its Surface Transportation Block Grant Program Set-Aside for Transportation Alternatives to support on- and off-road pedestrian and bicycle facilities, infrastructure projects for improving non-driver access to public transportation and enhanced mobility, community improvement activities, and environmental mitigation, trails that serve a transportation purpose, and safe routes to school projects.
Meanwhile, the New Jersey Department of Transportation opened the grant application period for $165 million worth of funding through its fiscal year 2023 State Aid programs, which includes its Municipal Aid, Transit Village, Bikeway, and ‘Safe Streets to Transit’ initiatives, which closes July 1. The agency said it would announce the grant award winners in November.
“The New Jersey Department of Transportation has a number of grant programs that allow our cities and towns to make needed safety and quality-of-life improvements to enhance our local transportation infrastructure without the need to impact local property taxes,” explained Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti in a statement.
“By providing financial assistance, technical expertise and training for municipal and county transportation initiatives, [we are] working to ensure New Jersey has a modern, efficient, and equitable transportation system,” she said.
Meanwhile, the South Dakota Department of Transportation is accepting applications for grants via its Transportation Alternatives or TA program through July 15 from local governments, regional transportation authorities, transit agencies, natural resource or public lands agencies, school districts, tribal government, non-profit entities, and metropolitan planning organizations or MPOs.
The agency said $4.6 million in funds are available via its TA program this year to support “smaller-scale” non-motorized transportation projects such as pedestrian and bicycle facilities, recreational trails, “Safe Routes to School” projects, community improvements such as historic preservation and vegetation management, and environmental mitigation related to storm water and habitat connectivity.
South Dakota DOT said individual project awards top out at $600,000, though the agency may approve a larger amount for phased projects. The minimum for infrastructure projects is $50,000, with the minimum local match requirement set at 18.05 percent.
Meanwhile, the Illinois Department of Transportation awarded $12.3 million in grants for 57 local “Safe Route to School” projects.
“Strong infrastructure is as much about bike paths and sidewalks as it is about highways and freight trains, and I’m proud to support more than 50 projects that will keep our students safer as they go to and from school,” noted Governor J.B. Pritzker (D) in a statement.
Administered by Illinois DOT using federal funds, “Safe Routes to School” supports projects and activities that improve safety and encourage active transportation options in areas around elementary and middle schools. Improvements include new sidewalks, efforts to reduce speeding and other traffic offenses, public education, and outreach programs.
“We are proud to help communities and schools in their efforts to provide safer walking and biking routes for students,” added Omer Osman, Illinois DOT secretary. “By ensuring our youngest residents have access to safe transportation options that are easy for them, we’re not only ensuring their current safety, but also their future health – and the health of the planet.”