Funding for Safe Routes to School

The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) just released their project solicitation for the Transportation Alternatives (TA) Program on March 1st. This solicitation replaces the stand alone Safe Routes to School funding previously available.  This change is due to the new federal transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century or MAP-21. The TA program not only includes Safe Routes to School projects but other walking and bicycling projects too.

The TPB collaborated with Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia to create one application and deadline for the regional and state TA Program. This streamlines the process and reduces confusion.

An application workshop is being held this Friday, March 22, 2013. The workshop will also be available via webinar. All details are listed on the Transportation Alternatives Program for the National Capital Region. Potential applicants may also meet with TPB staff prior to applying.

Two good reasons to apply for a Safe Routes to School project

Besides the fact that research shows physically active students are healthier and perform better academically AND 10-14 percent of morning congestion is parents driving students to school, consider this:

  • While the TA Program money available may not be large, when thinking about an infrastructure project, a Safe Routes to School program can change transportation habits in a community and benefit our children with less funding than an infrastructure project.
  • Under the previous federal transportation bill, educating communities and adults on safe walking and bicycling were eligible activities. Under the new transportation bill, education of K-8th grades under Safe Routes to School is the only allowable education activities. It is important that education of our students is carried out. And they will take the message home to the family.

What you need to know

  • Under the TA Program, eligible activities under Safe Routes to School did not change. Therefore the Five E’s and Safe Routes to School coordinators are still eligible activities.
  • Walking and bicycling infrastructure projects are eligible projects. If you don’t choose a Safe Routes to School specific project, a great way to maximize funding is to choose projects where schools are in close proximity and can also benefit.
  • There is a 20 percent match required. Safe Routes to School National Partnership has information on how to find the money for that match.
  • The new federal transportation bill is for two years until September 30, 2014. This regional and state TA Program call for applications will be the only call for applications during this time.
  • For specifics on your state TA Program, please see the National Capital Region TA Program website.

Next Steps

  • Read the project solicitation material on the National Capital Region TA Program website.
  • Register for the application workshop on March 22, 2013 from 12:30 to 3p. You can attend in person or via webinar.
  • Talk to transportation agencies and school districts in your community about applying for funding.
  • If you need assistance thinking about a Safe Routes to School project, contact the Greater Washington region Safe Routes to School network.

Do the states’ Safe Routes to School programs still exist?

State Safe Routes to School programs will still be in place to spend down monies from the previous transportation bill and monitor existing grants. Specifically:

  • In Virginia, you will still see a VDOT Safe Routes to School call for applications in winter 2013 for non-infrastructure grants. This is using the remaining monies from the previous federal transportation bill which means grants will be 100 percent funded. The Quick Start Mini-grants are still available.  VDOT is currently hosting workshops to help communities prepare for their grant opportunities. More information on their website.
  • The District of Columbia has committed to continue the program as it has in the past under the new MAP-21 funding structure. More information is available on the DC Safe Routes to School program website.
  • In Maryland, we know Safe Routes to School will be part of the TA Program work. It is not yet known the specific structure of the program.

For more information, please contact Christine Green.

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