Funding Opportunity for Trails
The current federal transportation funding bill, Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, gives states the opportunity to repurpose expired project funding, or earmarks.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), as part of the Consolidate Appropriations Act, 2016, allows States and territories to repurpose unspent funds originally earmarked for transportation projects more than 10 years ago.
All eligible earmarks available for repurposing must meet the following criteria:
- Meets the definition of an earmark. An earmark is defined as a dedicated fund for a specific project, given by the authority of a law or contract.
- Authorized or designated on or before September 30, 2005
- Less than 10 percent obligated or the project has been completed for less than the original funding amount and closed
According to our analysis, there is up to $207 M in earmark funding available for repurposing in New York State, including approximately $18 M originally intended for bicycle and pedestrian projects.
Parks & Trails New York believes that this funding offers New York State a significant opportunity to provide funding that supports Complete Streets legislation passed in 2011, and provide funding for trails and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects.
The following map shows unspent earmarks that may be eligible for repurposing. Each icon represents the travel mode the earmark was originally intended to accommodate (i.e. bicycle icon means bicycle infrastructure project). Each earmark also includes a 50 mile radius to indicate the geographic area within which the funds can be repurposed.
Does your project qualify?
Repurposed funds may be reallocated to a new or existing project that meets the following criteria:
- The project must be a Surface Transportation Block Grant eligible project. These projects include multi-use paths and recreational trails, complete streets infrastructure, such as sidewalks and bike lanes, and ADA-accessibility improvements.
- The project(s) receiving the funding must be within New York State and within a 50 mile radius of the original earmark description (see the map above).
- The repurposed funds must be spent on or before September 30, 2019
- In addition to the September 2019 deadline mentioned above, proposed projects must be considered "shovel ready", with necessary long-term easement agreements settled or ownership established for the right of way or corridor. Projects must also have a local sponsor, and funding should be the primary remaining obstacle to construction/design.
- There will be a match requirement: of at least 20% cash or in-kind, to be determined on a case-by-case basis; project sponsors may want to budget for cost overruns that are common in federally-funded projects.
- Sponsors should prepare an application and gather necessary materials as if they were applying for other federally-funded grant application process (i.e. TAP and RTP).
What You Can Do Next
FHWA has stipulated that all requests for earmark repurposing must go through NYSDOT Main Office; projects cannot be submitted directly to FHWA by an MPO, NYSDOT Region Office, or local partner.
NYSDOT Main Office Contacts
- Ron Epstein, Acting Director of the Policy & Planning Division, (518) 457-2320
- Dave Rettig, Office of Regional Planning & Program Coordination, (518) 457-2320
PTNY also recommends that interested parties contact the Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator for their DOT Region and/or Metropolitan Planning Organization to discuss specific projects and earmark repurposing requests. The map above shows DOT regions and MPO boundaries; follow the links above for specific contact information.
The New York State Department of Transportation must notify the FHWA of their decision to repurpose the earmarks before August 29, 2016. However, repurposing requests are being submitted on an on-going basis, so act now!