(Trenton) - New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti today announced that a record $23 million in federal funding has been obligated to local bicycle and pedestrian projects through Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grants.
The $23 million in grants represents the full allocation of funds available through the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for TAP and Safe Routes to School programs. There were 18 projects totaling $18.6 million in TAP grants, including several regional projects, and 14 Safe Routes to School grants totaling $2.3 million. An additional $2.2 million was authorized for Safe Routes to School work administered by Transportation Management Associations (TMAs).
The TAP program funds a variety of projects including:
- The design and construction of on-road and off-road trail facilities for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other non-motorized forms of transportation;
- Community improvement activities, such as streetscaping and corridor landscaping;
- Construction of scenic turnouts, overlooks and viewing areas. A full list of eligible projects is available on the New Jersey Department of Transportation (“NJDOT”) website.
Annually, FHWA sets a maximum amount of federal dollars that may be spent on TAP grants. Counties and municipalities may submit TAP grant applications through NJDOT grant solicitations. Once received, members of New Jersey’s three Metropolitan Planning Organizations and NJDOT staff review the applications. To date, NJDOT has funded every TAP project that was construction ready in the fiscal year.
The recipient of the TAP funds is responsible for delivery and administration of the project, including design, right-of-way, and construction. In addition, the recipient must abide by all rules set forth by FHWA. The grant recipient has two years to plan and deliver the project specifications before any funds are obligated. NJDOT’s responsibility is to ensure compliance with these regulations and obligate/disburse funds.
The next step will be to support the counties and municipalities as they meet their responsibility to deliver the projects in a timely fashion.
NJDOT’s Division of Local Aid has implemented a number of measures to assist Local Public Agencies (LPA)’s in the delivery of federal-aid projects and minimize issues encountered with federal compliance, including the following:
Eligibility Assessment – In 2013, Local Aid implemented a certification process for all federal-aid grant recipients. The eligibility assessment is intended to ensure that all federal aid grant recipients are adequately staffed and suitably equipped to administer federal aid projects and meet the associated federal-aid requirements. Recipients are provided program related and technical assistance.
LPA Training Courses – NJDOT, in partnership with FHWA and Rutgers, has implemented a number of training courses specifically intended for LPAs receiving federal-aid funds.
Pre-application Training Sessions – NJDOT, in partnership with Rutgers Voorhees, conducts training sessions throughout the state concurrent with TAP solicitations. Sessions walk potential applicants through the TAP application and address basic federal-aid requirements.
2016 Regional TAP Program – Recognizing the growing dollar amount of unobligated TAP balances and anticipating the potential for the rescission of TAP spending authority, Local Aid initiated the Regional TAP Program. The program goal was to utilize unobligated TAP balances to fund high cost, regionally significant, construction ready projects.
TAP and Safe Routes To School (SRTS) Design Assistance Programs – These programs funded through Local Aid using TAP and SRTS funds makes available consultant engineering services to assist LPA’s with the design of their TAP projects with the intent to shorten time, reduce costs, and improve quality in the delivery of NJDOT TAP projects.
Local Aid is continuing to plan to implement new measures to assist LPAs in the delivery of federal-aid projects and as previously mentioned, minimize issues encountered with federal compliance.
To view the official press release, please click here.