FHWA Transportation Alternatives Program

The Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) is administered by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and helps states fund a variety of activities related to improving transportation assets, including on- and off-road pedestrian and bicycle facilities, environmental mitigation, and creating or improving recreational trails projects. 

Allowable Uses

TAP activities must relate to surface transportation, and must fall within one of ten statutorily defined categories, including the following:

  • Construction, planning, and design of on-road and off-road trails for pedestrians and bicycles
  • Construction, planning, and design of infrastructure-related projects and systems providing safe routes for non-drivers
  • Conversion and use of abandoned railroad corridors for trails
  • Construction of turnouts, overlooks, and viewing areas
  • Vegetation management practices in transportation rights-of-way to improve roadway safety, prevent invasive species and provide erosion control
  • Environmental mitigation activities, including pollution prevention and abatement activities to address stormwater management
  • Recreational trails program

Transportation Alternatives funds cannot be used for general recreation and park facilities, and they also cannot be used for routine operations or maintenance.

Potential Uses for Adaptation

Transportation Alternatives funds can be used to mitigate stormwater runoff problems, so cities could install shade trees or permeable pavements near roadways. Additionally, funds under this program can be used to plan, design, or construct comprehensive streetscapes that incorporate trees, plants, and cool pavements to create more pedestrian-friendly (and cooler) streets if they result in safer streets for non-drivers, and of recreational trails.

TAP funds can also be used to pay for green infrastructure projects integrated into transportation improvements, including trails and sidewalks with permeable pavement. It can also be used to mitigate environmental impacts from transportation, including for green infrastructure projects that help to manage stormwater or abate water pollution from highway construction or run off. TAP is authorized to provide funding for “transportation alternatives” such as “off-road trail facilities for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other non-motorized forms of transportation.”  The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) has used TAP funding from the state of Michigan to fund green infrastructure and complete streets projects. In 2015, SEMCOG awarded $1,143,000 to fund the Detroit – Inner Circle Greenway Railroad Acquisition, which included 1) installation of green infrastructure such as green streets and bioretention and 2) repurposing of 8.3 miles of abandoned railway near Detroit.

Funding Amounts

In FY 2013 and 2014, FHWA awarded a total of $1.6 billion under the TAP program.  

Limitations

For most projects, TAP requires a 20 percent funding match from non-federal sources. 

Statutes and Regulations

The authorization for the program under MAP-21 is found at 23 U.S.C. § 213.

Guidance on the program is available at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/MAP21/guidance/guidetap.cfm 

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