December 4, 2020
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The Arkansas and West Virginia departments of transportation recently issued grants via their respective transportation alternatives programs (TAPs) and recreational trails programs (RTPs) for 2020.

[Above photo by the Arkansas DOT.]

TAP – a reimbursement-type grant program that provides for an 80 percent federal share and a 20 percent local match from eligible applicants – provides fiscal support for programs and projects defined as “transportation alternatives” for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other non-motorized forms of transportation.

Photo by Arkansas DOT

Projects eligible for TAP funds include construction of on-road and off-road trail facilities that include sidewalks, bicycle infrastructure, pedestrian and bicycle signals, lighting and other safety-related infrastructure.

Meanwhile, RTPs are a subset of TAP and are funded through a portion of TAP funds set aside specifically for recreational trails, which includes projects that convert abandoned railroad corridors for pedestrian and bicycle trails.

The Arkansas DOT noted in a statement that it is splitting $8.9 million in total 2020 TAP funds between 43 projects, while providing $1.2 million in total grants to 12 RTP projects statewide.

Meanwhile, the West Virginia DOT is providing a combined $8.6 million in TAP and RTP funds to support various infrastructure improvement projects in 29 counties: helping towns and cities build and improve sidewalks, lighting, trails, and more, explained Governor Jim Justice (R) in a statement.

Gov. Jim Justice (at right).

“You don’t ever know what’s going to happen with all that goodness,” he added in a separate statement highlighting how $2.6 million of that $8.6 million in overall TAP and RTP grants would support seven projects in cities and towns across West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle.

“And the result of that goodness may be that somebody moves; somebody moves a business here or somebody moves themselves here,” the governor said. “And at the end of the day, it’s all kinds of great stuff.”

In June, Gov. Justice issued 38 TAP and RTP grants worth more than $7.4 million combined to help fund projects in 27 West Virginia counties. In total, the state has awarded over $16 million TAP and RTP grants in 2020 alone.

2019 report issued by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy indicated that such TAP and RTP investments could key to helping shift short trips from driving to walking and biking via the development of connected active-transportation infrastructure.

Such a shift would also help generate a return on investment of $73 billion to $138 billion per year in the United States if connected to public transit systems, the group said.

editor@aashto.org

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