By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc.
Federal programs that have been significantly enhanced are now responsible for hundreds of new projects called ‘rail to trail’ initiatives throughout the U.S.
Congress authorized billions of dollars to support multi-use trails and other kinds of non-motorized transportation projects and the funding is now flowing through the Federal Highway Administration. In fact, the distribution is at an annual average of $1.44 billion and the revenue is going to state governments. The funds, however, are designated for local projects that provide benefits to communities that surround public transit hubs. Congress approved the money to alleviate vehicle traffic congestion on roadways, provide pedestrian safety, improve mobility for underserved communities and create economic vitality.
In February of this year, the first round of $5 billion in funding came through the Safe Streets and Roads program and 46% of the grants were allocated to projects for bicycle and pedestrian corridors, including many rail to trail projects. Because rail trails promote safety and revitalize abandoned infrastructure assets, the federal government now identifies these projects as “essential infrastructure” investments.