Rails-to-Trails Conservancy recently promoted several federal funding opportunities for trail groups and trail-affiliated organizations in an effort to help organizations prepare for successful applications to these programs. This spring, several federal funding programs will open applications—including the new Neighborhood Access and Equity Grant Program, which creates a unique opportunity for equitable trail and active transportation systems. Details about each of these federal discretionary grant programs are outlined below and each provides a meaningful opportunity to fund trail and active transportation networks. Most programs emphasize the safety, equity and climate impacts of projects, which position trail and active transportation networks well and should be emphasized in the application.
Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) Grant ProgramStatus: FY 2023 application deadline is July 10, 5 p.m. EDT. The Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) FY 2023 discretionary grant program will provide $5 billion between 2022-2026 to support local initiatives aimed at preventing serious injuries and fatalities that occur on our nation’s roadways. The first round of awards was announced in February and RTC estimated that 46% of projects included elements of traffic-separated bicycle or pedestrian infrastructure.
Neighborhood Access and Equity Grant ProgramStatus: USDOT anticipates launching this program later this spring. The Neighborhood Access and Equity Grant Program, which was established under the Inflation Reduction Act in 2022, will provide $3 billion over the next five years to improve connectivity in communities affected by divisive infrastructure. This new program emphasizes the role of active transportation networks, borrowing language about project eligibility from what is now known as the Active Transportation Infrastructure Investment Program. This program will fund projects designed to build or improve complete streets, multiuse trails, regional greenways or active transportation networks and spines. RTC encourages emphasizing equitable access to trail and active transportation networks in program applications given the explicit Congressional intent to prioritize such opportunities.
Reconnecting Communities Pilot ProgramStatus: USDOT is expected to release a new Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) late spring. The Reconnecting Communities Pilot program (RCP) will provide $1 billion in funding over the next five years to support planning, capital construction and technical assistance to restore community connectivity equitably and safely through the removal, retrofit, mitigation, or replacement of certain transportation infrastructure that have created mobility, access, or economic development barriers. The first round of awards was announced in February, many of which included bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in construction and planning grants, reinforcing its importance in overcoming historic barriers to equitable mobility and access.
Rural Surface Transportation Grant ProgramStatus: USDOT is expected to release a new NOFO late spring. The Rural Surface Transportation Grant (RSTG) program provides $2 billion over five fiscal years to support projects that will improve and expand surface transportation infrastructure in rural areas—with the goal of increasing connectivity, improving the safety and reliability of the movement of people and freight, and generating regional economic growth and improved quality of life. As you consider whether an application is right for your project, we encourage you to review the awardees from the first round announced in February, as that will indicate the project features prioritized by USDOT.
As organizations explore these new federal funding opportunities, RTC has a new tool to help them determine which programs may best suit their project’s goals and needs. Access the tool and information about the suite of federal programs that can support trail and active transportation networks at railstotrails.org/funding.
Applicants are encouraged to email [email protected] with the program they applied for and their project details.
This post adapted from a release by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.