Transportation will continue to be an important advocacy issue in 2013 for park and recreation agencies and professionals. The New Year brings implementation of a new federal law (MAP-21) as well as a “new Congress."
To keep you ahead of the curve on these issues, we’re sharing some insights on transportation that you should be aware – including offering you the chance to comment on the early days of implementation for the parts of MAP-21 which cover walking and biking.
By now, you should be aware of the major changes impacting walking and biking and parks and recreation under MAP-21. Previously dedicated funding under the Transportation Enhancements (TE) and Safe Routes to School has now been replaced with a much broader category of eligible projects under the Transportation Alternative Program (TAP). Trails and walking/biking safety projects remain eligible, but now must compete for significantly less dollars with other road projects.
This competition isn’t simply at the state level, either. MAP‐21 gives Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) more responsibility for distributing federal transportation funds. MPOs serving areas with more than 200,000 residents are required to use a competitive process to select projects for funding through the Transportation Alternatives Program.
DOT Wants to Hear From You on MAP-21
If your state or MPO is already implementing parts of MAP-21, the US Department of Transportation (DOT), under their Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), is seeking input from you since you are eligible for the Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) funds. DOT has asked us to share with you this survey to seek basic data on how states and MPOs are adjusting to the creation of the program. Please respond to this questionnaire no later than Tuesday, January 15.
We realize that it’s “early days” and that Final Guidance on much of these programs has not yet even been released by the DOT/FHWA, but any comments or insight you can provide would be very helpful. Your response will be kept confidential and only submitted as part of the overall reply to the DOT from NRPA, not as individual members.
What’s to come with the New T&I Committee
The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee (T&I) is starting the year with a new Chairman (Bill Shuster of PA) and new members on both the majority and minority side. In a recent Roll Call column the new committee chair shared his outlook for the new Congress stating that the committee is focused on strengthening America’s national transportation network. He also said that “the committee will pursue an aggressive oversight agenda,” and that “Oversight of the recently enacted MAP-21 will be critical…”
NRPA’s Public Policy staff is actively engaged in meeting with new House and Senate member offices. The new Congress was sworn in on January 3 and most Members are just now selecting staff to handle their committee assignments, but we’re making sure that they know NRPA has important issues before the T&I Committee, including walking and biking policy.
You also have a chance to meet with these new staffers and Members during NRPAs Legislative Forum March 19-21. We need your help making sure that new (and returning) Senators and Representatives understand the important and valuable role of parks and recreation. Don’t miss your chance to convey, with one strong voice, the priorities and concerns that impact park and recreation agencies throughout the country.
What are you views on the new MAP-21 and implications on park and recreation agencies? What do you want to let your Senators and Representatives know about the role parks and recreation has in transportation?
Written by Dave Tyahla, Senior Government Affairs Manager, [email protected].