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Learn More About Transportation Enhancement Programs!

Introduction

The Transportation Enhancements program is a federal-aid reimbursement program, not a grant program. The federal government pays 80 percent of a TE project cost. That amount is called the federal award. In general, the project sponsor pays the balance. That amount is called the local match. Usually, the project sponsor pays the associated project costs and submits a reimbursement request to the state transportation agency, which submits them to the Federal Highway Administration. Reimbursable project costs vary from state to state but usually include:

  • project feasibility
  • planning and engineering plans
  • environmental reviews, land acquisition and construction.
Also new in the Transportation Enhancement Act-21, is a provision encouraging states to enter into contracts or cooperative agreements with youth-conservation corps programs to implement enhancement projects. This allows the program to meet more community needs by encouraging a specific type of job-training program for youth and young adults to carry out enhancement projects.

Federal Funding

As with other federal-aid funding, the federal government subsidizes Transportation Enhancement programs in conjunction with project sponsors including state, and local government or non-governmental organizations. A Transportation Enhancement project may be a "standalone" project, or it may be an addition to a larger transportation facility. Enhancement funds are available for all phases of projects, from planning and design to property acquisition, surveying, preliminary engineering, construction and management.

State Involvement

Though the federal statute describes eligible categories for the Transportation Enhancements program with interpretive guidance from the Federal Highway Administration, state transportation agencies have most of the responsibility for the enhancements program.

Each state devises its own application and selection process, establishes selection criteria and adopts methods to streamline the development and management of projects. While no two state programs are exactly alike, in general each state program has seven characteristics:

1. eligibility criteria
2. selection criteria
3. selection cycle
4. advisory committees
5. project implementation
6. innovative financing
7. streamlined project development

Results

Since congress introduced Transportation Enhancements in 1991, more than $4.3 billion has been invested around the country in facilities for walking and bicycling, historic preservation, scenic beautification, land acquisition, and environmental mitigation. In 1998, the TE program was reauthorized in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), ensuring that through 2003, about $620 million in annual funds may be made available to state transportation agencies for these types of projects.

Please call your state and federal representatives today and support continued funding for the Transportation Enhancement programs.

 

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