By Brian Wright, PE, QSD/QSP, ENV SP, Transportation Engineer
California created its Active Transportation Program (ATP) to encourage more bike, pedestrian, and multi-use trail projects. These programs bring a multitude of benefits: less dependence on the automobile to get around, healthier communities and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
To date there have been three ATP funding cycles. The latest $240 million cycle was recently augmented with SB-1 funding, which adds another $100 million annually beginning in the 2017-18 fiscal year. Caltrans anticipates the Cycle 4 call for projects will be in early 2018.
With substantial ATP funding available, how does a local agency improve its chances of securing funding?
Through our experience in assisting local agencies with their applications—including receiving $4.5 million in Cycle 3 funds for the City of Roseville’s Dry Creek Trail project—we have identified a number of elements that are key to success.
Screening Criteria that Require Special Attention:
Screening criteria that require special attention in order to improve the overall quality of the application include:
• Significant Outreach – Projects that include a significant community outreach component have a distinct advantage. In addition, public participation in the development of the project right from the start is important. For the Dry Creek project, the City of Roseville completed more than 15 public meetings. Engagement with disadvantaged communities in the outreach process is critical.
• Bike/Pedestrian Data – Including historic and current local data strengthens the application. A variety of data already exists through your local Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPOs) and Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System.
• Detailed School and Institutional Data – Provide data that includes the number of students and the percent willing to bike or walk to school. Prepare this data ahead of time by conducting pedestrian/bike counts and surveys to improve scoring.
• Stakeholder Support – Obtain letters of support from all stakeholders, both locally and regionally.
• Funding Leverage – Has the local agency committed funds to support the success of this project? Does the project bring with it opportunities for additional funding?
• Local Agency Commitment – If an agency already has started some preliminary work on the project, it underscores the commitment of the agency.
• Cost-Benefit Analysis – It is important to accurately estimate project costs and potential users of the facilities. Cost estimates need to be realistic and include all anticipated capital and support costs to avoid funding shortfalls later.
Opportunities to Make Your Application Stand Out:
Because the reviewers receive a large number of applications, applicants should look for opportunities to make their application stand out from the crowd, this will be the same for many funding applications, whether it be to a government body or a finance lender such as Lending Expert.
• It’s About the Score – Because funding is very competitive throughout the state, local agencies should carefully select projects that are most likely to score highest under the scoring criteria and not necessarily the next project in line.
• Pre-position – Bring general awareness of upcoming ATP projects to local MPOs and key decision makers in the community.
• Start early – Allow enough time and be fully committed to providing a high-quality application.
• Eye-catching Graphics – Include clear, detailed and visually eye-catching graphics.
• Impactful Photos – Photos showing specific deficiencies or safety concerns are more impactful than words.
• Tap into resources – Make use of online resource tools and training opportunities offered by Caltrans and MPOs to assist with applications.
Applying for funding can be a daunting and time-consuming task, with numerous funding sources and ever-changing requirements. Following the above recommendations can enhance your chances of success.
For more information, please contact Brian Wright at Psomas at 916-788-4884 or Brian.Wright@Psomas.com.