Maryland Trails Clearinghouse & Directory
Funding for Trails in Maryland
The Recreational Trails Program (RTP)
The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) provides funds to the States to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both non-motorized and motorized recreational trail uses. The RTP is an assistance program of the Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Federal transportation funds benefit recreation including hiking, bicycling, in-line skating, equestrian use, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, off-road motorcycling, all-terrain vehicle riding, four-wheel driving, or using other off-road motorized vehicles.
Maryland received $1,158,618 in RTP funds in 2010, and $5,622,664 over the course of the last five years.
In the fall of 2010, the Governor's Office announced the results of the first-ever comprehensive Maryland State Parks Economic Impact and Visitors Study at a meeting with stakeholders at New Germany State Park. According to the study, Maryland State Parks have an estimated annual economic benefit to local economies and the State of more than $650 million annually.
Funding Sources for Bicycle and Pedestrian Projects
Bicycle and pedestrian projects are broadly eligible for funding from almost all the major Federal-aid highway, transit, safety, and other programs. Bicycle projects must be "principally for transportation, rather than recreation, purposes" and must be designed and located pursuant to the transportation plans required of States and Metropolitan Planning Organizations.
Federal-aid Highway Program
National Highway System funds may be used to construct bicycle transportation facilities and pedestrian walkways on land adjacent to any highway on the National Highway System, including Interstate highways. 23 USC Section 217 (b)
Surface Transportation Program (STP) funds may be used for either the construction of bicycle transportation facilities and pedestrian walkways, or nonconstruction projects (such as maps, brochures, and public service announcements) related to safe bicycle use and walking. SAFETEA-LU added "the modification of public sidewalks to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act" as an activity that is specifically eligible for the use of these funds. 23 USC Section 217 (a)
Ten percent of each State's annual STP funds are set-aside for Transportation Enhancement Activities (TEAs). The law provides a specific list of activities that are eligible TEAs and this includes "provision of facilities for pedestrians and bicycles, provision of safety and educational activities for pedestrians and bicyclists," and the "preservation of abandoned railway corridors (including the conversion and use thereof for pedestrian and bicycle trails)." 23 USC Section 109 (a)(35)
Another 10 percent of each State's STP funds is set-aside for the Hazard Elimination and Railway-Highway Crossing programs, which address bicycle and pedestrian safety issues. Each State is required to implement a Hazard Elimination Program to identify and correct locations which may constitute a danger to motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Funds may be used for activities including a survey of hazardous locations and for projects on any publicly owned bicycle or pedestrian pathway or trail, or any safety-related traffic calming measure. Improvements to railway-highway crossings "shall take into account bicycle safety." 23 USC Section 152
Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program funds may be used for either the construction of bicycle transportation facilities and pedestrian walkways, or nonconstruction projects (such as maps, brochures, and public service announcements) related to safe bicycle use. 23 USC Section 217 (a)
Recreational Trails Program funds may be used for all kinds of trail projects. Of the funds apportioned to a State, 30 percent must be used for motorized trail uses, 30 percent for nonmotorized trail uses, and 40 percent for diverse trail uses (any combination). 23 USC Section 206
Provisions for pedestrians and bicyclists are eligible under the various categories of the Federal Lands Highway Program in conjunction with roads, highways, and parkways. Priority for funding projects is determined by the appropriate Federal Land Agency or Tribal government. 23 USC Section 204
National Scenic Byways Program funds may be used for "construction along a scenic byway of a facility for pedestrians and bicyclists." 23 USC Section 162 (c)(4)
Job Access and Reverse Commute Grants are available to support projects, including bicycle-related services, designed to transport welfare recipients and eligible low-income individuals to and from employment. SAFETEA-LU Section 3037
High Priority Projects and Designated Transportation Enhancement Activities identified by Section 1602 of SAFETEA-LU include numerous bicycle, pedestrian, trail, and traffic calming projects in communities throughout the country.
Federal Transit Program
Title 49 U.S.C. (as amended by SAFETEA-LU) allows the Urbanized Area Formula Grants, Capital Investment Grants and Loans, and Formula Program for Other than Urbanized Area transit funds to be used for improving bicycle and pedestrian access to transit facilities and vehicles. Eligible activities include investments in "pedestrian and bicycle access to a mass transportation facility" that establishes or enhances coordination between mass transportation and other transportation. 49 USC Section 5307
SAFETEA-LU also created a Transit Enhancement Activity program with a one percent set-aside of Urbanized Area Formula Grant funds designated for, among other things, pedestrian access and walkways, and "bicycle access, including bicycle storage facilities and installing equipment for transporting bicycles on mass transportation vehicles". 49 USC Section 5307(k)
Highway Safety Programs
Pedestrian and bicyclist safety remain priority areas for State and Community Highway Safety Grants funded by the Section 402 formula grant program. A State is eligible for these grants by submitting a Performance plan (establishing goals and performance measures for improving highway safety) and a Highway Safety Plan (describing activities to achieve those goals). 23 USC Section 402
Research, development, demonstrations and training to improve highway safety (including bicycle and pedestrian safety) is carried out under the Highway Safety Research and Development (Section 403) program. 23 USC Section 403
Federal/State Matching Requirements
In general, the Federal share of the costs of transportation projects is 80 percent with a 20 percent State or local match. However, there are a number of exceptions to this rule.
Maryland Department of Transportation
MDOT's New Bikeways Program Means More Money For Bicycle Projects in Maryland. The Bikeways Program was designed to support transportation trails (Shared-Use Paths), Cycle Tracks, Bicycle Lanes, Shared Lanes, and Designated Bike Routes.
Planning for Bicycling and Walking
States and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (a planning agency established for each urbanized area of more than 50,000 population) are required carry out a continuing, comprehensive, and cooperative transportation planning process that results in two products.
- A long range (20 year) transportation plan provides for the development and integrated management and operation of transportation systems and facilities, including pedestrian walkways and bicycle transportation facilities. Both State and MPO plans will consider projects and strategies to increase the safety and security of the transportation system for nonmotorized users.
- A Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) contains a list of proposed federally supported projects to be carried out over the next three years. Projects that appear in the TIP should be consistent with the long range plan.
The transportation planning process is carried out with the active and on-going involvement of the public, affected public agencies, and transportation providers.
Bicyclists and pedestrians must be given due consideration in the planning process (including the development of both the plan and TIP) and that bicycle facilities and pedestrian walkways shall be considered, where appropriate, in conjunction with all new construction and reconstruction of transportation facilities except where bicycle use and walking are not permitted. Transportation plans and projects must also consider safety and contiguous routes for bicyclists and pedestrians. Safety considerations may include the installation of audible traffic signals and signs at street crossings. 23 USC Section 217 (g)
Policy and Program Provisions
State Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinators
Each State is required to fund a Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator position in its State Department of Transportation to promote and facilitate the increased use of nonmotorized transportation, including developing facilities for the use of pedestrians and bicyclists and public educational, promotional, and safety programs for using such facilities. Funds such as the CMAQ or STP may be used for the Federal share of the cost of these positions. In most States, the Coordinator position is a full-time position with sufficient responsibility to deal effectively with other agencies, State offices, and divisions within the State DOT.
Protection of Nonmotorized Transportation Traffic
The Secretary shall not approve any project or take any regulatory action that will result in the severance of an existing major route, or have an adverse impact on the safety of nonmotorized transportation traffic and light motorcycles, unless such project or regulatory action provides for a reasonable alternate route or such a route already exists.
Users of a Bicycle and Pedestrian Facility
Motorized vehicles are not permitted on trails and pedestrian walkways except for maintenance purposes, motorized wheelchairs, and--when State or local regulations permit--snowmobiles and electric bicycles. Electric bicycles are defined for the purposes of this Act as a bicycle or tricycle with a low-powered electric motor weighing under 100 pounds with a top motor-powered speed not in excess of 20 miles per hour.
Facility Design Guidance
The design of bicycle and pedestrian facilities is determined by State and local design standards and practices, many of which are based on publications of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) such as the Guide to the Development of Bicycle Facilities and A Policy on Geometric Design of Streets and Highways.
The Federal Highway Administration developed guidance on the various approaches to accommodating bicycles and pedestrian travel, in cooperation with AASHTO, the Institute of Transportation Engineers, and other interested organizations. The guidance included recommendations on amending and updating AASHTO policies relating to highway and street design standards to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians.
When a highway bridge deck-on which bicyclists are permitted or may operate at each end of the bridge-is being replaced or rehabilitated with Federal funds, safe accommodation of bicycles is required unless the Secretary of Transportation determines that this cannot be done at a reasonable cost. 23 USC Section 217 (e)
When improvements to at-grade railway-highway crossings are being considered, bicycle safety must be taken into account. 23 USC Section 130
Research, Special Studies, and Reports
SAFETEA-LU continues funding for highway safety research (Section 403), the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) and Transit Cooperative Research program (TCRP), all of which have funded research into pedestrian and bicycle issues. In addition, the legislation creates a number of new research areas, special studies, reports, and grant programs including:
Bicycling and walking are important elements of an integrated, intermodal transportation system. Constructing sidewalks, installing bicycle parking at transit, teaching children to ride and walk safely, installing curb cuts and ramps for wheelchairs, striping bike lanes and building trails all contribute to our national transportation goals of safety, mobility, economic growth and trade, enhancement of communities and the natural environment, and national security.
All of these activities, and many more, are eligible for funding as part of the Federal-aid Highway Program. Federal legislation clearly confirms the place of bicycling and walking in the mainstream of transportation decision-making at the State and local level and enables communities to encourage more people to bicycle and walk safely.
In 1991, Congress passed the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) to promote balanced, multimodal transportation. The creation of Transportation Enhancements (TE), which have provided funding for more than 24,000 projects, was one of the most important features. Subsequent transportation legislation has expanded the TE program to comprise a 10% set-aside of the Surface Transportation Program, which translates to more than $800 million (FY 2005-2009).
Funding is available to local governments, communities, and non-profits that have projects directly related to surface transportation. As TE funds are administered to states, the details of individual state programs are different, but each state works with FHWA to ensure that projects meet the specified criteria. Descriptions and state profiles are available through the TE website.
In addition to relating to surface transportation, projects also must pertain to one of the following twelve eligible activities:
Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program
The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program was created in 1991 under the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) to fund transportation related projects that are designed to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality. CMAQ has seven major project categories:
- Shared Ride
- Traffic Flow Improvements
- Demand Management
- Inspection/Maintenance (I/M) and other Transportation Control Measures (TCMs)
- Surface Transportation Program (STP)/CMAQ
Pedestrian and bicycle projects comprise one major product category and account for approximately 13 percent of CMAQ projects. CMAQ Improvement Program funds are available to a wide range of government and non-profit organizations, as well as private entities contributing to public/private partnerships. They are controlled by metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and state departments of transportation. Often, these organizations plan or implement their own air quality programs besides approving CMAQ funds for other projects. Funding is available for areas that do not meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (nonattainment areas) as well as former nonattainment areas that are now in compliance (maintenance areas). CMAQ-funded projects may include bicycle and pedestrian facility improvements, bicycle racks and lockers, and individualized marketing initiatives that promote bicycling and walking.
Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Final Program Guidance for the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users provides several examples of eligible nonmotorized CMAQ activities:
CMAQ-funded bicycle/pedestrian projects can be based around efforts such as bike parking, pedestrian and bicycling promotion, sidewalk or pedestrian improvements and enhancements, bike maps and planning, and education efforts. Bicycle and pedestrian projects often work to improve mobility and access while also improving safety. These projects can help reduce the need for automobiles and provide safe connections for walkers and bikers.
For more information about CMAQ, take a look at PBIC’s CMAQ FAQ or visit the FHWA program web site. The League of American Bicyclists’ report Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program provides a chart of project ideas by type, location, and description. A list of currently designated nonattainment areas for all criteria pollutants is available through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Recreational Trails Program (RTP)
The Recreational Trails Program ( RTP) is an assistance program of the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) initially created under the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA). The program was amended by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (SAFETEA-LU) by increasing the funds significantly.
RTP is aimed at providing funds to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail related facilities. Funding can be used for both motorized (snowmobiles, four-wheel vehicles, all terrain vehicles, etc.) and non-motorized (pedestrian, bicycling, equestrian, skiing, etc.) recreational trail use.
Every State administers their own program and develops their own procedures for selecting projects that will receive funding. To assist with the RTP, each State has their own State Recreational Advisory Committee that can either select projects for funding or be solely advisory. Click here for a list of Recreational Trails Program State Administrators.
In 2009, Congress authorized the RTP for $85 million. Up to $840,000 of this money may be used by FHWA annually to trail related research, program, administration, and technical assistance. Half of the remaining funds are distributed to all States equally while the second half of the remaining funds are distributed in proportion to the amount of off-road recreation fuel use in each State. The money provided to each state must be split between varying recreational trail projects – 30% of funds must be allotted to motorized trail uses, 30% for non-motorized trail uses, and 40% for diverse trail users. For a list of previous funding amounts provided to each state, visit http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/rectrails/recfunds.htm.
The Federal share of funding for each project from RTP funds is 80%, however a Federal agency project sponsor may endow additional funds provided the Federal share does not exceed 95%. The remaining funds must come from project sponsors or various other funding sources. It is possible for the remaining funding to come from a Federal program in the project is eligible under said program as well.
As listed by FHWA, RTP funds may be used for:
The Coalition for Recreational Trails has compiled a database of RTP projects funded from 1993 to 2009.
There is a wide range of other federal funds that can be used for bicycling and walking facilities. The most common include:
The National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse has prepared a useful Technical Brief: Financing and Funding for Trails that cites over thirty federal and national funding sources that could be used to help fund bicycling and walking facilities and/or programs, especially trails.
Every state raises revenue for highway and transportation infrastructure through a state motor-vehicle fuel tax. Some states also raise funds through vehicle licensing fees. In many states, the laws governing how these funds can be spent would make most pedestrian projects and programs eligible for these funds. However in other states, use of the funds may be limited to providing paved highway shoulders on state owned and operated roads.
The following are some examples of dedicated funding for pedestrian and bicycle projects from state transportation revenues:
A growing number of states are providing funds from non-transportation related revenue streams. However, these funds are not always eligible for the full range of pedestrian and bicycle activities.
Some examples include the following:
There are many examples of local communities creating revenue streams to improve conditions for bicycling and walking. Three common approaches include: special bond issues, dedications of a portion of local sales taxes or a voter-approved sales tax increase, and use of the annual capital improvement budgets of Public Works and/or Parks agencies.
Some examples follow:
For more information, please contact:
Land Trails Planner
Land Acquisition & Planning
Maryland Department of Natural Resources
580 Taylor Avenue, E-4
Annapolis, MD 21401