At last week’s board meeting, Metro weighed the future of its commitment to funding active transportation: walking and bicycling. Changes in federal government funding are leading Metro to withdraw from its past bike and ped programs.
Right now, 49 projects, totaling over $90 million, are on Metro’s list for “transition.” Metro had approved funding for these, but is now requiring project sponsors to seek other monies.
For a couple of decades, Metro’s every-other-year Call for Projects (Call) has been the major source of funding for bike and pedestrian projects throughout L.A. County. Federal transportation funding passed to Metro. Local cities applied to Metro to receive funds. Relatively expensive bike/ped transportation projects, including completed portions of the L.A. River bike path, received Metro Call funding.
In 2012, the federal government passed its new transportation bill, called Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, or MAP-21. The feds changed the rules for funding bicycle and pedestrian projects. Funding used to be through a program called Transportation Enhancements (TEA), which was eliminated. Now bike and ped funding is channeled through Transportation Alternatives (TA), which funds more types of projects with less money than was available under TEA. These federal changes have taken a while to work their way into California’s rules. In response to the federal changes, the state consolidated and retooled its bike and pedestrian funding into a new Active Transportation Program (ATP.) The ATP has a few pots of money (more on that in future articles), with the largest share being a statewide competitive process.
Metro, through its Call, had already approved funding for projects scheduled well into the future–through the year 2019. Federal and state changes have eliminated funds that Metro anticipated would pay for these future projects.
At the February 27th Metro Board meeting, Metro staff presented a report and presentation regarding transitioning to the state Active Transportation Program. In essence, Metro is looking to withdraw its previously-approved Call funding for 49 bicycle and pedestrian projects in various local cities. These projects (listed below) total $90 million in projected Metro funding. The 49-project list only represents around half of the Metro Call’s future bike and pedestrian project obligations–the ones that appear most likely to get state funding. So, there will likely be more hand-offs still to come.