ATP Guidelines final draft to Legislature – call for projects coming soon!

Legislative committee hearing on Safe Routes to School April 2013

Legislative committee hearing on SRTS April 2013

Last week the final draft of the Active Transportation Program Guidelines was submitted to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. The Committee has six weeks to review, hold hearings, and give feedback before guidelines must be adopted by the California Transportation Commission (CTC) on March 21.  We expect the hearings to happen in early March in the budget subcommittees on transportation and will update this space with more details.

CTC staff has conducted twelve public workgroup meetings, received dozens of comment letters, and updated the ATP guidelines draft five times since October.  Throughout the process, CTC staff have had the difficult task of deciding whether to accept often competing suggestions for improvement and have done a commendable job of incorporating the feedback while also preserving the intent of Senate Bill 99, the legislation that established the program.

The CTC held two ATP hearings last month – January 22 in Los Angeles and January 29 in Sacramento – for stakeholders to offer final input on the guidelines directly to the Commission. Both hearings were well attended by advocates who generally supported the work of CTC staff on the guidelines.

However, a late issue emerged from regional transportation agencies just prior to the hearings, requesting a last minute change to the guidelines in how projects are awarded and funds allocated that would move ATP funding out the door more quickly but could result in less scrutiny over what projects receive funding.  In response to this request, the CTC refused to make such a significant last minute change after months of workgroup meetings, citing the requirement in SB-99 that the guidelines outline a new competitive process that specifically addresses the ATP goals.  The National Partnership and statewide partners, who were involved in crafting SB-99 before its adoption, supported the CTC on this issue because competitiveness and transparency are critical to funding the best pedestrian and bicycle projects and ensuring that disadvantaged communities benefit from the program.

After the hearings, the final draft of the guidelines was amended with a few minor clarifications and was transmitted to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee on February 3.  Legislative hearings on the guidelines are expected next month, and will be an important venue to show support for the guidelines process and to ensure that the intent of SB-99 is maintained in the guidelines.  We anticipate that regional agencies will continue to push for more control in the programming process and press the legislative committees to support their stance, so it will be important for advocates to continue to show support at the hearings for the good work of the CTC.  Stay tuned for more updates and details on the hearings.

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