California Transportation Commission approved Cycle 2 Active Transportation Program awards!

CTC_logoThis Wednesday, the National Partnership and other allies attended the California Transportation Commission (CTC) meeting to weigh in on one of the most anticipated agenda items, the staff recommended Cycle 2 Active Transportation Program awards. In our analysis of the awards, we noted several things that we highlighted for the commissioners and staff:

  1. The Active Transportation Program (ATP) continues to be oversubscribed: For each cycle of the ATP, all the applications total to $1 billion dollars in need. Unfortunately, only $360 million dollars has been provided for each cycle. With these limited funds, the program cannot fund all of the good innovative projects that will increase walking and bicycling, improve public health, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We recommend the CTC and Caltrans work with the Administration to identify and secure additional funds to make this program robust.
  2. Almost half of the recommended projects were Safe Routes to Schools: We were pleased to see that 50 percent (including 15 percent non-infrastructure) of the statewide program’s funding and 55 percent of the small urban and rural program’s funding was recommended for Safe Routes to School projects. We worked hard to outreach and educate cities, counties, school districts, public health departments, and others about this opportunity so we are excited for all the communities who will benefit from these projects.
  3. Disadvantaged communities continue to be prioritized in Cycle 2: 88 percent of funds from the statewide program and 72 percent of funds from the small urban and rural program went to projects that directly benefit disadvantaged communities. We continue to support and advocate for this prioritization because these communities’ infrastructure has suffered from years of neglect and under-investment. We believe that the ATP provides a much-needed opportunity to ensure these communities can safely walk or bicycle to school, work, and other key destinations. And with two cycles completed, we recommend the CTC and Caltrans carefully analyze the awarded projects to ensure they are providing direct and assured benefits to disadvantaged communities.
  4. Planning and non-infrastructure programs did not compete well: Only 6 planning projects were recommended for funding, and only 23 projects included non-infrastructure programs. Planning is necessary for community to identify the need and address the gaps in their pedestrian and bicycling networks. The ATP should promote planning and infrastructure equally to ensure we create complete walking and bicycling networks in all communities. In the same vein, non-infrastructure programs are vital to Safe Routes to School. Community led encouragement and education programs ensure that children – and the greater public – support and use the new infrastructure. The National Partnership plans to partner with the CTC and Caltrans to ensure that Cycle 3 prioritizes planning and non-infrastructure.

After public comment, a couple of the commissioners responded to our comments. Some commissioners addressed the recommendation for additional funding with an ask for the active transportation community to work with other transportation advocates to enlarge the pie versus further slicing the pie to go to many different interests. However, other commissioners echoed the sentiment that we need additional funding for the program and should not fight over crumbs. As we are in the midst of a special session, this was a very timely conversation. A bill that we are sponsoring, ABX1-23, increases the amount of funding in the Active Transportation Program. The National Partnership will follow up with commissioners to discuss this bill and hear other ideas on how we can see more robust funding for the ATP either through the special session or other means.

Soon afterwards, the commissioners adopted the staff recommendations for Cycle 2. The National Partnership is excited to see another cycle of funding awarded for active transportation projects across the state of California and looks forward to working with the CTC, Caltrans, and our partners to ensure this program is robust and continues to increase walking and bicycling.

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