Federal "Transportation Alternatives" Dollars Helping to Advance Regional Priorities

Apr 14, 2014

For the second year in a row, the Transportation Planning Board will select a number of local capital improvement projects throughout the Washington region to receive funding under the federal "Transportation Alternatives" program.

In selecting the projects, the TPB will focus on choosing improvements that help advance regional priorities, especially those related to moving people by means other than car, the main purpose of the federal program.

Earlier this year, the TPB approved the Regional Transportation Priorities Plan, which identifies the top strategies for addressing the region's most significant transportation challenges. Among other things, it calls for more efficient transportation connections between and within the region's Activity Centers, in order to allow more people to make fewer and shorter trips by automobile.

In particular, the plan calls for concentrating more future residential and job growth in Activity Centers and efforts to improve local circulation within centers, by expanding bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, providing more local bus services, and promoting better street connectivity.

By Dan Reed on Flickr

Dan Reed / Flickr

The Transportation Alternatives Program supports just these kinds of projects. Last year, the TPB selected a project in Takoma Park to widen sidewalks, add bike lanes, and install new pedestrian lighting along MD 410 near the intersection with New Hampshire Avenue. In Fairfax County, the TPB selected a project to install bike stations and operating hardware to support the expansion of Capital Bikeshare to Reston, which will give people more options for accessing Metrorail stations along the planned Silver Line.

The Transportation Alternatives Program complements the TPB's Transportation/Land-Use Connections (TLC) Program, which provides technical assistance to local jurisdictions to help them better coordinate transportation and land-use planning. Transportation Alternatives provides an opportunity for jurisdictions to fund the implementation of projects or initiatives identified in the planning studies funded under the TLC Program, among other local priorities.

Projects eligible to receive Transportation Alternatives funding are not limited to those that enhance local circulation within Activity Centers, however. The program, which was created under the latest federal surface transportation authorization known as MAP-21, supports projects that were previously funded under other programs, including Recreational Trails, Transportation Enhancements, and Safe Routes to School.

Local governments, park authorities, and school boards are among the agencies and organizations eligible to apply for Transportation Alternatives funding. The TPB will accept applications through May 15 for projects to fund in Maryland in the coming year. Virginia accepted applications for this year last November and is currently finalizing a list of projects to fund. The District will accept project applications later this year.

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