In an effort to curb rising numbers of pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities, as well as foster less carbon-intensive forms of mobility, the Texas Department of Transportation is making roughly $250 million available via its 2023 Transportation Alternatives Call for Projects.
[Above photo by TxDOT]
That program channels federal funds towards sidewalk, bike lane, shared-use path, and other projects designed to enhance walking and biking transportation options statewide. TxDOT added that it plans to hold a series of virtual workshops to help municipalities and organizations apply for this funding.
“Making it safer and easier to walk and bike is an important part of our mission of ‘Connecting You with Texas,’” explained TxDOT Transportation Commissioner Robert ‘Robie’ Vaughn in a statement.
“I’m thrilled to see this increase in funding that’ll help communities build impactful improvements for its citizens,” he added. “As a jogger and cyclist myself, I know the value these enhancements can bring to help Texans get to work, run errands, and enjoy the beautiful Texas outdoors.”
The number of pedestrians and cyclists killed on Texas roads has been rising over the past several years with pedestrian fatalities increasing by 15 percent and cyclist fatalities by 14 percent in 2021. TxDOT hopes this program’s funding will help communities plan and build walking and biking infrastructure that could help reduce those incidents.
This funding commitment follows a similar effort by TxDOT focused on the transit sector. In July, the Texas Transportation Commission awarded more than $68 million in federal and state funds to transit providers across the state. Combined with an award received in June, TxDOT is distributing more than $146 million in funding – a 65 percent increase compared to funds approved in the summer of 2021.
Other state departments of transportation are working on ways to build more shared-paths to create additional bicycling and walking options.
For example, a Utah State University study is poised to help the Utah Department of Transportation and community leaders make decisions about building canal paths and trails.
The Utah DOT funded the university’s research project – entitled “Active Transportation Facilities in Canal Corridors” – that the American Society of Civil Engineers subsequently published in June.
Meanwhile, the District Department of Transportation in Washington, D.C., recently finished the rehabilitation of the Rock Creek Trail, offering bicyclists and pedestrians nearly 3 miles of reconstructed trail as well as a new 110-foot pedestrian bridge. Originally expected to wrap up in spring 2023, the $14.6 million project rehabilitated more than 2.8 miles of paved, multi-use trail.
That project – which included widening and improving the trail surface, streambank stabilization, and significant stormwater management improvements such as the use of permeable pavement to aid drainage and decrease runoff – resulted from a coordinated partnership between the National Park Service, DDOT, and the Federal Highway Administration’s Eastern Federal Lands Division.