history eligibility funding applying
In 1991, the United States Congress passed the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA), a $217 billion act responsible for financing much of the country's transportation infrastructure over a six-year period. Unlike previous federal transportation legislation that strongly favored investment in highway infrastructure, ISTEA encouraged investment in multiple modes of transportation, such as mass transportation and pedestrian and bicycle facilities. One of the most significant means through which ISTEA promoted balanced, multi-modal transportation was through the creation of the "transportation enhancements" (TE) activities.
ISTEA defined 10 eligible activities. Its 1998 successor, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), expanded this list to twelve while requiring that all TE projects specifically relate to surface transportation. In 2005, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) continued funding for TE activities as a mandatory 10% set-aside of the Surface Transportation Program. After SAFETEA-LU expired on September 30, 2009, TE remained funded through an extension of SAFETEA-LU until September 30, 2012. For twenty years, these historic TE categories nationwide were implemented by state DOTs using these federal formula funds.
Most recently, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) established new surface transportation provisions for FY 2013 and beyond taking effect on October 1, 2012. The TE activities, along with the existing Recreational Trails Program and Safe Routes to School Program, are consolidated for funding through a new Transportation Alternatives Program. The activities previously known as transportation enhancements are also now termed transportation alternatives and are redefined as 10 eligible project types. The new law also restricts which entities are eligible to apply for TA funds.
The program provides funds for innovative, community-based projects to enhance the travel experience by all modes: walking, biking, taking transit, and riding in a car, helping communities protect scenic vistas, create bike paths, develop walkable downtowns and protect the environment.