Did Your State Forfeit Federal Funds for Walking and Biking?

Georgia DOT forfeited more than $4 million in federal funds earmarked for biking and walking that could have been used to improve safety on roads like this.  Transportation for America/Flickr
Georgia DOT forfeited more than $4 million in federal funds earmarked for biking and walking that could have been used to improve safety on roads like this. Transportation for America/Flickr

Millions of dollars that should have gone toward building safer sidewalks or bike lanes near schools were instead forfeited by state DOTs that couldn’t get their acts together.

That’s according to data compiled by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership. The 2012 federal transportation bill gave states four years to spend funds from the “Transportation Alternatives” program — the name for small pot of money for walking and biking infrastructure. The hard deadline was October 1.

In total, states returned $17 million intended for biking and walking to the federal government instead of spending to make neighborhoods safer and healthier.

While most state DOTs executed the program properly, a small number left money unspent. Here are the states that dropped the ball and returned bike/ped money to the feds:

  • Georgia: $4.4 million
  • Maryland: $2.5 million
  • New Jersey: $6.2 million
  • North Carolina: $4 million

In addition, many states choose to transfer Transportation Alternatives funds to road and bridge projects. In total, states shifted about 18 percent of the funding in the program to projects that are not primarily for walking and biking.

Given the rising number of pedestrian deaths nationwide, it’s unconscionable to leave money on the table. Even small amounts can go far for walking and biking infrastructure.

“States who allowed this to happen forfeited money meant for safety and transportation by simply not planning ahead,” writes Safe Routes’ Deputy Director Margo Pedroso. “Advocates know that there are indeed Safe Routes to School, biking and walking projects that could desperately use these funds, but the state DOT did not fulfill its responsibilities to ensure the TAP money was obligated in time.”

Correction: Due to an error in the source data provided by SRTS, this post originally stated that DOTs had forfeited $28 million in bike/ped funds. The correct figure is $17 million. In addition, some states were erroneously identified as leaving funds unspent. The post has been updated to accurately convey which states did not spend their bike/ped funds.

  • Joe

    I live in NJ and advocate for bike and ped improvements almost every day, so this is incredibly infuriating to me. I hate the Christie administration so much. I can’t wait until we elect a new governor. Ug this is so depressing.

  • ohnonononono

    Does using this money require a local match? I’d think that would be part of the reason if so.

  • CarlessInOKC

    AFAIK that’s up to the states to decide. In Oklahoma we were told that SRTS would not require match, and then they changed their mind for it to require 20%.

  • Haggie

    If you total those amounts, it is equal to approximately **500 miles** of new sidewalks.

  • Sluggo67

    Many states have been derelict with obligating TAPS funds ever since the program first started with ISTEA’s passage (that’s 1991). Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if these agencies lost some of the ‘institutional knowledge’ that they so cherish.

  • Sad!

  • Allan Marshall

    Why am I not surprised Georgia is on this list? Whenever I travel in that state, I see very little non-car infrastructure. And it isn’t lost on me, that unfortunately the Atlanta area didn’t expand MARTA as much as they were originally planning to back in the 70s and 80s. I.e., the fact the south rail line to Hartsfield Airport was originally supposed to have a branch diverge after College Park southeast to Hapeville, but never was built.

  • Alan

    Fingers crossed its not Guadagno or whatever her name is… Seems like we are in good shape but thats what I said about Trump

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Wisconsin Pilfers From the Scraps Earmarked For Walking and Biking

|
About $830 million in federal funds are set aside each year for walking and biking. That’s less than 2 percent of total federal transportation spending. Even this small provision of dedicated funds has been watered down by the GOP-controlled Congress. The current federal transportation law allows states to transfer half their allocation of ped/bike funds to general road projects. Plenty of states choose to spend […]

Funds for Walking and Biking Under Attack in Congress This Week

|
Funds for walking and biking infrastructure account for a tiny portion of federal transportation spending. Safer streets don’t cost much, though, so for the cities and towns that count on these programs, a few dollars from the feds can be a huge help. Despite the relatively small sums at play, walking and biking programs are a constant […]

FHWA Helps Cities and Towns Land Bike/Ped Funding

|
American cities and towns should get a leg up on using federal funds to make streets safer for biking and walking, thanks to rules enacted yesterday by the Federal Highway Administration. MAP-21, the current transportation law, was passed hurriedly enough that not all the i’s could be dotted and t’s could be crossed — and […]