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ISTEA and TRAILS: Merging Transportation Needs and Recreation Values

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ISTEA and Trails:
Merging Transportation Needs and Recreation Values

Robert S. Patten
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy


Amy Derry
Hal Hiemstra
and Marianne Fowler

Published by
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy & American Trails
September 1994
for the
12th National Trails Symposium, Anchorage, Alaska

Table of Contents

Preface. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i

Executive Summary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iii

Section 1. An Introduction to ISTEA and Trails . . . . . . . . . . 1

     Why Trail Advocates are Becoming Transportation Experts . . . 1
     Trails are Eligible for ISTEA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

Section ][I. How to Make ISTEA Work for Your Trail . . . . . . . . 7

Trail Politics is Local. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

Transportation Enhancements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

National Recreational Trails Fund Act. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10

Section II[I. What Has Been Achieved in Three Years: Enhancements &
NRTFA. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13

     Transportation Enhancements: A 1990's Gold Rush . . . . . . .13
     NRTFA: Great Projects, Too Little Money . . . . . . . . . . .19

Section IV. Conclusions and Action Plan. . . . . . . . . . . . . .25

     Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25
     Reauthorization Action Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27



     Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and American Trails are pleased to
release this report at the 12th National Trails Symposium,
September 1994, in Anchorage, Alaska.  It is published jointly with
two hopes: 1) that it will be of assistance to the trails community
in securing funding for trails under the existing programs of the
Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA), and 2)
that it will catalyze cooperative action to secure and protect
these new-found trail funding provisions during the ISTEA
reauthorization process.

RTC's Transportation Enhancements Research and Monitoring Project

     In November 1992, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC)
initiated the Transportation Enhancements Research and Monitoring
Project focused on federal and state implementation of the
Transportation Enhancements Provisions in the Intermodal Surface
Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA).  An initial survey of all
fifty states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia culminated
in our first report, Enhancing America's Communities, in the Spring
of 1993; and continued surveying activity has informed numerous
updates and allowed us to publish the Second Edition of Enhancing
America's Communities in June 1994.

     Over the course of two years, RTC has compiled an extensive
set of documents and data on each of the states and jurisdictions
that receive an annual federal enhancements apportionment.  The
enhancements data used in this report comes from RTC's June 1994
edition of Enhancing America's Communities.  For a description of
the methodology used to collect, compile and analyze the
Enhancements data provided in this report, please contact the
author at Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

FHWA and the National Recreational Trails Fund Act

     The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is monitoring
implementation of the National Recreational Trails Fund Act
(NRTFA).  The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy gratefully acknowledges
FHWA!s contribution to this report and appreciates the agency's
ongoing cooperation.  RTC received a comprehensive set of data from
FHWA in early September 1994.  This data serves as the basis of the
NRTFA analysis in this report.  For a description of the
methodology used to collect and compile NRTFA data, the reader may
contact Christopher Douwes at FHWA in Washington, D.C.


Executive Summary

     The Internodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA)
has affected trail development and acquisition more than even the
most optimistic trail supporters were predicting just three years
ago.  Federal funding levels from the two ISTEA programs
highlighted in this report show that at least $261.5 million has
been awarded to trail and pathway projects.  And, that total rises
to more than $375 million in federal spending when all bicycle and
pedestrian projects funded under ISTEA are considered.

     These figures are even more startling and exciting when one
considers that this spending level has been achieved while many
states have not yet fully obligated all of the Transportation
Enhancement funds available to them.  Furthermore, this funding has
come directly through state institutions that historically have
been hostile to trail funding, and generally slow to adopt new ways
of operating.  Still further, this spending has been achieved with
a minimum level of advocacy from the traditional trails community. 
Imagine the level of funding possible as the trails community
becomes more informed and comfortable operating within the
transportation arena, and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and
state Departments of Transportation (DOTS) become more fully
accustomed to ISTEA's new way of thinking.

     However, all the news is not good news.  Formal obligations of
federal enhancement funds lag far behind project awards made by
state DOTS.  Actual trail building and corridor acquisition lags
still further behind, with a wide range of political and
institutional barriers creating hurdles and delays.  Without the
trails community, bicycle and pedestrian community and related
organizations pushing hard for full expenditure of all
transportation enhancement funds, the true potential of ISTEA's
enhancements provisions is not likely to be realized.  Furthermore,
today's meteoric rise in trails spending may level out or even
decline as other nontraditional players become more informed and
competitive in the project selection process.

     Similarly, as this report points out, only $7.5 million has
been appropriated for the National Recreational Trails Fund Act
(NRTFA) despite the fact that ISTEA authorized this program at up
to $30 million a year.  Without increased advocacy efforts on the
part of the trails community and others, it is unlikely that this
program will ever be fully funded during the remaining years of

     Obviously, enactment of ISTEA brought about major changes in
the trails funding landscape.  It has also changed the way the
trails community seeks federal funding assistance for local trail
projects.  While ISTEA is not the answer to all trail funding needs
-- particularly for more remote, long-distance trails -- in just
three short years, ISTEA has made transportation agencies the trail
advocate's agency of choice.

     This shift has been as difficult for many in the trails
community as it has for many in the transportation community. 
Though the U.S. Departments of Interior and Agriculture are still


critically important players in developing overall trail policy,
plans, and strategies, the financial resources available for
acquisition and development through transportation agencies dwarfs
the financial resources now available through natural resource and
parks agencies.

     Developing a Nationwide Trail System: The expanded eligibility
for funding and the revised programmatic structure created by ISTEA
provides the vehicle for the trails community to develop a
nationwide system trails that is an integral part of the internodal
transportation system.  After three years of monitoring and
tracking ISTEA implementation, RTC believes that the recently
articulated goal of the trails community to create a nationwide
trail system is now tenable.  Furthermore, RTC urges the trails
community to recognize the importance of the following six tasks,
so that federal transportation investments will remain central in
achieving this goal:

*    Fully integrating trail and transportation planning at the
     state and local level.
*    Ensuring that ISTEA trails are designed to optimal standards,
     guidelines and specifications.
*    Minimizing the transportation / recreation distinction in
     questions of funding eligibility for particular facilities.
*    Promoting trail development as a key infrastructure component
     necessary for reaching the two goals set forth in The National
     Bicycling and Walking Study.
*    Recognizing the strengths and significance in both of the key
     trail programs in ISTEA:
          Enhancements and NRTFA.
*    Realizing that ISTEA is more than Enhancements and NRTFA.

     The Politics of Reauthorization: In the coming two years,
trail advocates must become better informed players within the
state and local transportation decision making arena and stronger
advocates for maintaining the trail-enhancing language included in

     There is little doubt that many of the advances made in ISTEA
which permit transportation funds to be spent on trails will come
under attack during the reauthorization of ISTEA in 1996.  There
are strong interests in Washington and across the country who
believe that the revenue generated by the federal gas tax should be
spent exclusively on highways and auto/truck oriented projects, and
not trails.  How the trails funding provisions of ISTEA fare in
this debate can be significantly influenced by the trails

     The concluding section of this report outlines the politics of
the reauthorization process and includes a specific action plan for
members of the trails community to undertake in the coming months. 
The plan asks trail advocates to get Members of Congress, their
staff members and the press out on an ISTEA-funded trail in your
community or state.  There is no better way to convince members of
Congress about the value of trails and their contributions to
community livability and alternative transportation, than by
arranging for a Congressional visit.  Clearly, the proof is in the
pudding.  It is now up to members of the trails community to invite
Congressional members to the table.


Section 1: An Introduction to ISTEA and Trails.

Why Trail Advocates are Becoming Transportation Experts
     or, Please don't give me another list of "acronyms to learn!

     Many trail activists and enthusiasts might ask, "why is there
so much focus now on federal transportation legislation?...l
thought federal trail building funds came through the Interior

     Before 1992 most federal trail development funds were approved
in the Interior and Agriculture Departments' appropriations bills. 
However, enactment of the Intermodal Surface Transportation
Efficiency Act (ISTEA), in December 1991 brought major changes to
the trails funding landscape.  For the first time in the history of
federal transportation law, ISTEA made rail-trail acquisition and
development specifically eligible for federal highway funds through
the transportation enhancements provisions; moreover, almost all
types of trails, pathways, greenways and other bicycle and
pedestrian facilities became eligible for enhancements funds.  In
addition, an entire new program was created to fund recreational
trails: the National Recreational Trails Fund Act.

     At a minimum, ISTEA annually makes available over $500 million
for ten specific enhancement activities, including trail
development.  With surprisingly little advocacy from the trails
community itself, this legislation has allowed trails to take the
greatest leap forward since the National Trails System Act was
passed 26 years ago.  Now, with three of ISTEA's six fiscal years
nearly completed, the intent of the Act regarding trails is being
realized -- $255.3 million has been awarded to trail and pathway
projects as a result of the enhancements provisions, and an
additional $6.4 million has been committed through the National
Recreational Trails Fund Act.  From all programs in ISTEA, RTC
estimates that over $375 million in federal funds has been awarded
to bicycle and pedestrian projects.

     While there are many factors contributing to this new-found
trail funding, the policy thrust of ISTEA can be seen as the
primary catalyst of this still-unfolding sea change.  The preamble
of ISTEA articulates a fundamental shift in national transportation
policy, establishing energy conservation, protection of the
environment and quality of community life as high priorities that
must be considered and achieved through federal transportation
spending.  It also establishes greater parity between all of the
surface transportation modes; bringing bicycling and walking, and
thus trails, in from out of the cold (see box on page 2).

(1) A federal Act that authorizes maximum levels of federal
transportation spending for six federal fiscal years, 1992-1997.

ISTEA and Trails

     This new, trail-friendly policy environment is causing trail
enthusiasts, citizen advocates and agency staff in the trails
community to pay serious attention to the inner workings of the
Act.  Because transportation is a field where trail advocates have
not traditionally looked for support, trail activists are now
forming new relationships within the professional transportation
community which is charged with implementing ISTEA.

Selected statements from the preamble of ISTEA
"It is the policy of the United states to develop a National
Intermodal Transportation System (NITS) that is economically
efficient and environmentally sound, provides the foundation for
the Nation to compete in the global economy, and will move people
and goods in an energy efficient manner.  The NITS shall consist of
all forms of transportation in a unified, interconnected manner,
including the transportation systems of the future, to reduce
energy consumption, and air pollution while promoting economic
development... Social benefits must be considered with particular
attention to the external benefits of reduced air pollution,
reduced traffic congestion and other aspects of the quality of life
in the United States."

     The purpose of this report is to further introduce the trails
community to ISTEA and explain what the Act is doing, and can do,
for trail development across the nation.  The report will focus
primarily on two programs within ISTEA -- the Transportation
Enhancements Provisions and the National Recreational Trails Fund
Act - providing an overview of how funding decisions are made and
how trail advocates can be involved.  It will also provide an
analysis of the trail projects that have received awards thus far
and how implementation of these programs is working for trails.

Trails are Eligible for ISTEA

     On a practical level, it is ISTEA's comprehensive inclusion of
the bicycle and pedestrian modes of travel that has thrust trails
firmly into the deep pockets of federal transportation funds. 
Fourteen major provisions of the Act directly refer to the
bicycling and walking modes of travel.2 Because trails are
considered a bicycle and/or pedestrian facility, trail development
projects are now eligible for funding from eleven different funding
programs within ISTEA (See Figure 1).

     While trail eligibility has been established in the law, there
is no mandate or requirement to fund trails.  Given political
realities that govern the transportation decision making processes
at state and local levels (which tend not to reflect the new way of
thinking represented in ISTEA), the likeliest sources of trail
project funding include only the top five programs listed in Table
1; and even so, trail funding from categories 3 -5 (the "core"
Surface Transportation Program, Congestion Mitigation and Air
Quality Improvement Program or Federal Lands Program)

(2) Eleven provisions of ISTEA create funding eligibility for
bicycle and pedestrian facilities, two provisions mandate inclusion
of non-motorized modes in state and metropolitan transportation
planning, and funding programs, and one provision mandates creation
of a Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Coordinator in each state
Department of Transportation.

ISTEA and Trails

remains rare.  For this reason, this report will focus on the first
two funding sources on the list, while providing a brief
explanation of the STP, CMAQ and Federal Lands programs.

                 Figure 1

ISTEA Funding Programs for Tails

1)   Enhancements (a 10 percent set-aside of the Surface
     Transportation Program)
2)   National Recretional Trails Funds Act (NRTFA)
3)   "core" Surface Transportation Program (STP)
4)   Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program
5)   Federal Lands Program
6)   Scenic Byways Program
7)   Highway Safety Program
8)   Bridge Program
9)   National Highway System (NHS)
10)  Federal Transit Funding
11)  Demonstration Project (otherwise known as Congressional
     earmarking or "pork.")

The Transportation Enhancements Program

     Within the Surface Transportation Program3 (STP) is a program
for "non-traditional" activities called "transportation
enhancements." ISTEA requires that ten percent of all STP funds be
set aside for Transportation Enhancements Activities (TEAs).  The
legislation establishes only ten eligible enhancement activities
(see Figure 2).

     Over $3 billion, nationally, will be available for enhancement
activities over the life of ISTEA.  This amounts to approximately
$500 million annually.  States are apportioned enhancement funds by
federally established formulas.  Annual state apportionments range
from $2-3 million for small population states like Delaware,
Vermont and Wyoming, to as much as $30-34 million for larger states
like New York, Texas and California (see Appendix A for a table of
authorization levels for each state).  Enhancement funds can be
used for many costs associated with trail development, including
planning, engineering and design, land acquisition and

     While not specified in ISTEA, a common structure for state
Transportation Enhancements Programs (TEPS)4 has evolved.  This
structure includes 1) a regular application

(3) For an explanation of the Surface Transportation Program see
page 5.
(4) The term Transportation Enhancement Program (TEP) is used by
the authors for convenience in referring to state level
implementation of ISTEA's enhancement provisions.  The ISTEA did
not establish a TEP at the federal level and does not require
states to establish TEPs per se.  However, ISTEA charges state DOTs
with responsibility to implement the enhancements provisions,
giving the Federal Highway Administration only an oversight role. 

ISTEA and Trails

process whereby local governments, state agencies and sometimes
non-profit organizations can propose projects, 2) a project
selection process which often utilizes selection criteria and newly
formed advisory committees, and 3) a set of policies and guidelines
that govern the first two processes, as well as project
administration and implementation for those projects that are

                              Figure 2
     The Ten Transportation Enhancement Activities (TEAs)

     (Categories under which trail projects qualify are in bold,
     however trail projects are sometimes incorporated into
     projects made eligible under the eight categories.)

     #1   Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities
     #2   Acquisition of Scenic Easements and Scenic or Historic
     #3   Scenic or Historic Highway Programs
     #4   Landscaping and Scenic Beautification
     #5   Historic Preservation
     #6   Rehabilitation and Operation of Historic Transportation
          Buildings, Structures or Facilities (including historic
          railroad facilities and canals)
     #7   Preservation of Abandoned Railway Corridors (including
          the conversion and use thereof for pedestrian and bicycle
     #8   Control and Removal of Outdoor Advertising
     #9   Archaeological Planning and Research
     #10  Mitigation of Water Pollution Due to Highway Runoff

The National Recreational Trails Fund Act

     Another new program in ISTEA is the National Recreational
Trails Fund Act (sometimes referred to as the Symms Act).  ISTEA
authorizes up to $30 million annually for this program, and
explains in some detail how the funds are to be administered and
which type of projects are eligible.  Although the legislation
called for a trust fund to finance the Act, and the Treasury
Department created the fund, Congress failed to give the program
contract authority, thus necessitating a yearly trek to Congress
for an annual appropriation.  No funds were appropriated for fiscal
year (FY) 1992, only $7.5 million was appropriated for FY 1993, and
no funds were appropriated for FY 1994.  Funds from this program
can be used for trail maintenance projects as well as trail
planning, acquisition, construction, reconstruction, trailhead
facilities, education and administrative costs.

term Transportation Enhancement Program is commonly used to
describe the procedures and policies that states are creating to
implement the language of the Act.

ISTEA and Trails

STP, CMAQ and Federal Lands Programs

     The Surface Transportation Program (STP) is one of the largest
funding programs within ISTEA, providing more than $23 billion over
the six year life of the Act.  It is also the most flexible in
terms of project eligibility.  Funds can be used for a wide range
of road, highway and bridge construction and reconstruction
projects, as well as capital costs for transit projects, carpool
programs, traffic safety and management activities, environmental
mitigation, a wide range of transportation planning functions, and
the development of bicycle and pedestrian facilities.  Most
significantly for trails, all eligible transportation enhancement
projects are also eligible to be funded with STP "core" funds. 
Thus, trail advocates should consider the enhancements set-aside as
the "minimum pool" of funds available for trail projects.

     In addition to the 10 percent of STP which is set aside for
enhancements, 10 percent must also be set aside for safety
construction activities.  The remaining "core" of funds must be
split between metropolitan areas of over 200,000 population
receiving 62.5 percent, and 37.5 percent reserved for use anywhere
within the state.  Because the STP is a primary source of road
building and maintenance funds, as well as urban traffic management
moneys, in most states competition among projects and political
jurisdictions is fierce.  Very few trail projects have received
"core" STP funds, and prospects for the future remain slim.

     Funding for trails can also be awarded from the newly created
Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ). 
The purpose of this program is to make transportation investments
that help achieve the clean air goals set forth in the federal
Clean Air Act.  If a non-motorized trail project is in a
metropolitan area that is a non-attainment area (meaning that
national air quality standards have not been attained for ozone and
carbon monoxide), it may be funded with CMAQ moneys.  This is
because the Environmental Protection Agency has included bicycle
and pedestrian facilities as eligible Transportation Control
Measures (TCMs), those transportation activities and investments
that States and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (NMOS) may
employ to. help reduce air pollution.

     CMAQ funding is authorized for $6 billion, nationally, over
the life of ISTEA.  While these funds will be directed primarily to
urban areas, each state receives a minimum apportionment regardless
of its air quality problems, and can use the funds as if they were
STP funds.  Trail projects in Portland, Oregon; Chicago, Illinois;
Washington, DC; and other cities have received CMAQ funds.  Unlike
the STP funds, prospects for trail projects to become priorities
for CMAQ money are strong in many urban areas.

     Further details regarding the CMAQ program can be found in a
number of excellent resources available from the Surface
Transportation Policy Project (STPP)5.  In particular we suggest
the February 1993 issue of the STPP Newsletter, Clearing the Air on
Conformity; and the general guidance document Tools for Change: The
Clean Air Act Amendments and ISTEA.


5 STPP may be reached at the same address as RTC or by calling 202-

ISTEA and Trails

     The Federal Lands Highway Program is an appropriate funding
source for trail projects on federal lands, including National
Parks, National Recreation Areas, National Forests, Bureau of Land
Management lands, federal Parkways, or Native American

     While primarily intended as a source of funds for road
maintenance, repairs, or new road construction on federal lands,
only a trail facility adjacent or parallel to a road could benefit
from this program.  The national total authorized for the program
is $2.6 billion over the six years of ISTEA, with the Parks and the
Park Highway Program receiving $83 million per year, the Public
Lands Highway Program $171 million per year, and Indian Reservation
Roads $191 million per year.  The funds for all of these programs
are discretionary, except for the Park Service and Forest Service,
which have discretionary, as well as non-discretionary funds.  Non-
discretionary funding decisions are made by the state, rather than
the federal agency.

     In 1993, through the Public Lands Highway Program, $2.8
million was spent on trailheads and bridge replacement in Colorado,
along US 50 near the Arkansas River.  There have been a few other
minor trail and recreation-related projects funded through this

ISTEA and Trails

Section 11: How to Make ISTEA Work for Your Trail

Trail Politics is Local

     While ISTEA is a new federal law, the old adage "all politics
is local" should govern the trail advocate's basic approach.  Both
NRTFA and Enhancements funding decisions are made at the state and
local levels of government, and ISTEA has shifted an even greater
portion of decision making power to the states than existed in the
past.  However, although Enhancements and NRTFA are both part of
ISTEA, they are governed by different rules and are likely to be
administered by different state agencies.  This section of the
report provides trail advocates with further advice tailored both
for the state Transportation Enhancements Programs and NRTFA. 
Despite the fact that NRTFA funding has all been allocated, the
program description is helpful to prepare the reader in
understanding the program's analysis.

Transportation Enhancements

     The Nature of the Federal-Aid System: Like all other federal-
aid highway funds, enhancements moneys are allocated and expended
by state Departments of Transportation (DOTs).  At the beginning of
each fiscal year, FHWA, using formulas established by ISTEA and
past federal transportation laws, calculates the amount of each
state's available enhancements funds and informs the state DOT.  In
essence, enhancements funds, again like all federal-aid highway
funds, are given to the states on paper.  State DOTs use revenue in
the state treasury to actually pay contractors, vendors and
consultants for their transportation work and then receive
reimbursements from FHWA for the federal share of the project, as
well as payments from local governments for non-state local
matching funds.  The federal shares are based on pre-agreed funding
levels, called obligations, and corresponding project scopes.  For
this reason the federal aid highway program is often referred to as
a cost-sharing, reimbursement program.

     Contrary to popular understanding, the enhancements program is
not a grant program.   The federal government does not grant money
to the state and the state does not provide grants to project
sponsors.  This affects project sponsors by forcing them to abide
by applicable federal laws and regulations.

     Project administration, management and financing procedures
vary from state to state.  In some states, the project sponsor has
to put forward all funding for the project prior to eventual
reimbursement from FHWA, through the state DOT.  In other states,
the state DOT requires the local sponsor to pay the state its
required local share and the state fronts the 80 percent federal
share as bills are incurred.  Applicants and project sponsors
should be aware that money spent o a project before an application
is approved by both the state DOT and the FHWA will not be
reimbursed, and cannot count toward the sponsor's provision of
local matching funds.

ISTEA and Trails

     Because this is a federal transportation program administered
at the state level, all applicable federal and state regulations
will apply.  As a "federal-aid" project, applicable regulations
include those governing environmental protection, historic
preservation, acquisition of property, contracting, wage rates, and
others.  Depending upon the state you are in, project applicants
have varying degrees of responsibility for ensuring compliance with
relevant federal laws and regulations.  In some states, the state
DOT will undertake all the work necessary for complying with
federal laws and regulations.  In other states, state laws may
limit the DOT's ability to assume this responsibility, or state DOT
policy may require significant involvement from sponsors as a way
to reduce the state's burden.  In these cases, project sponsors
need to be prepared to play a major role in the federal compliance
process.  This usually entails preparation of special documents and
often requires hiring consultants.

     In almost every state, to qualify as a successful enhancement
applicant, a project must be endorsed by a local or state
government.  While independent citizen groups or non-profit
organizations may (and often do) initiate project proposals by
providing the vision, enthusiasm, and evidence of public support,
nongovernmental organizations typically cannot proceed with an
enhancements application without a local government agency's
sponsorship of the application.  Only a few cases exist nationwide
where state DOTs are contracting directly with non-profit
organizations to carry out the same project proposed and sponsored
by them in the application process.

     The Decision making Process: Among the states, there are a
variety of decision making structures for selecting enhancements
projects.  The most common method is an annual selection cycle in
which a selection committee reviews applications.  Some selection
committees (commonly referred to as "advisory committees") are
comprised solely of DOT staff, and some include government
representatives from other state or regional agencies, such as a
department of environmental management, parks and recreation, the
state historic preservation office, or a Metropolitan Planning
Organization (MPO).  Finally, the most open selection committees,
found in twenty states, will include citizen representatives, in
addition to DOT staff and government agency representatives.

     Depending upon the state you are in, Metropolitan Planning
Organizations (MPOS) or other regional transportation planning
bodies may be involved in endorsing or screening projects before
passing them on for evaluation at the state level.  Whether or not
this is true in your state, it is wise to seek the endorsement of
your MPO, or its equivalent, at the earliest stage possible.  In a
few states, enhancement funds are suballocated or distributed
according to targeted amounts and the selection process occurs at
the regional MPO level.  Your state DOT Enhancements Program
Manager is the best source of information regarding the particular
selection process used in your state.  RTC maintains a list of DOT
Enhancements Program Managers.  To order see Appendix B.

ISTEA and Trails

     Selection Criteria -- Making the Transportation Connection: A
successful enhancement application will not only have gathered
support from the key organizations and decision makers in the
community, but will clearly state its relationship to the
intermodal transportation system of a given community.(6)

     In determining eligibility for enhancements funding, the
Federal Highway Administration requires that a project directly
relate to the transportation system in one or more of three
specific ways: function, proximity, or impact.  For instance, a
multi-use trail is an example of an activity with a functional
relationship -- it will directly serve non-motorized travelers
(bicyclists, pedestrians, equestrians) in meeting their travel
needs.  A proposed enhancement may also be related by proximity -
for example, removal of illegal billboards in the viewshed of a
scenic highway is an activity related to the highway by proximity. 
Finally, if the proposed enhancement activity is intended to have a
positive impact on an existing or planned transportation facility
or the environment surrounding the particular project, it is
eligible.  If constructing a multi-use trail reduces auto use in an
area, that is an impact-related enhancement; if restoration of a
wetland adjacent to a road enables it to more effectively filter
the highway runoff and improve a stream's water quality, that also
demonstrates an eligible impact relationship.

     While your trail project will certainly have other benefits
beyond its transportation value, to be a successful applicant the
transportation-related benefits should be the central focus of an
application and the function / proximity / impact connection should
be made explicit with text, maps and empirical data.  As you can
imagine, many trail projects relate to the transportation system
through two or all three of these considerations, and applications
should highlight each of a project's transportation-related

     There are many specific transportation benefits which trail
applicants should not fail to consider in the conceptual stage of
the project, and thus in the enhancements application.  They
include bicycling and walking connections to, from and among any of
the following areas: residential neighborhoods, bus and rail
transit, schools, employment centers, commercial districts,
shopping malls, parks and recreation centers, medical facilities,
historic districts, libraries, government service buildings, etc. 
In addition, multi-use trails may score highly because of highway
safety considerations, especially where a trail offers grade-
separated crossings of dangerous highways or an off-road
alternative to a high-volume highway or narrow arterial street.7

     Other benefits your trail may offer, such as recreational
opportunity, personal and mental health, economic development,
environmental preservation, energy conservation, environmental

(6) Because of ISTEA, the term "intermodal" is now frequently used
to refer to the multiplicity of facilities (highways, waterways,
rail lines, airports and trails) and modes (automobiles, trucks,
freight railroads, bus and rail transit, intercity buses, AMTRAK
trains, bicycles,in-line skates and walking shoes) that make up our
transportation system.  It also specifically relates to the
connections n any of these facilities or modes.

(7) However, please note that off-road trails or sidepaths do not
improve safety if they must frequently cross side streets and
numerous driveways, especially those with high traffic volumes such
as those entering strip malls, commercial buildings and
institutional parking lots.

ISTEA and Trails

education opportunities, corridor preservation, and others, should
also be highlighted.  Examine the selection criteria, which is
unique to your state's program, and highlight these or other
aspects of your project accordingly.

National Recreational Trails Fund Act

     The National Recreational Trails Fund Act (NRTFA) differs from
the Enhancements Provisions in many ways, but primarily in three
facets: 1) its separation from the reimbursement and cost-sharing
provisions that govern all of the ISTEA Title I programs; 2) the
likelihood that the program is administered by the state's parks or
natural resource agency (not the DOT); and 3) its focus on
recreational, rather than transportation trails.  Eligibility
requirements for the NRTFA do not include the function / proximity
/ impact test that exists for enhancements.

     Moreover, ISTEA was much more specific about the
administrative structure of the NRTFA, which has made program
development much easier for both the FHWA and the state
implementing agencies.  The following items are among the many
specific parameters that ISTEA established for the NRTFA: a)
funding minimums for both motorized and non-motorized trails, b) a
specific, but wide range of eligible project activities, c) a
specific list of eligible project sponsors and grant recipients,
and d) a strong incentive for creation of state recreational trail
advisory boards.

     At the federal level, the United States Department of
Transportation assigned FHWA the role of program administration and
implementation.  As called for by the Act, the Interior Department
was asked to cooperate with and support implementation efforts. 
The Act gives state Governors the power to designate the lead
implementing agency at the state level, and most Governors have
assigned the program to the state Department of Parks and/or
Natural Resources.  Further, the act stated that NRTFA moneys are
to be used on trails and trail-related projects which have been
planned under otherwise existing laws, and which are identified in
the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP).

     Fiscal Administration: NRTFA is not subject to the twenty
percent non-federal match requirements which are common for most
ISTEA funding programs.  NRTFA funds are dispersed to states on an
annual basis according to the formula set forth in the Act; funds
are distributed to projects and project sponsors as "straight" cash
grants.  The Act made private individuals, organizations, local
governments and other state and federal government entities
eligible to receive grants of NRTFA funds.

     ISTEA specifically requires that not less than thirty percent
of a state's funds be used for motorized trail projects, and that
another minimum thirty percent be awarded to projects accommodating
non-motorized trail usage.  Moreover, use of funds for projects
that accommodate the greatest number of compatible recreational
purposes and those that appropriately combine motorized and non-
motorized uses are to receive funding preference.

ISTEA and Trails

     Finally, the Act specifies that states shall remain eligible
for receiving NRTFA funds only if a recreational trail advisory
board exists within the state.  Users of both motorized and non-
motorized recreation must be represented.

     Project Selection & Eligibility: The Act gave states the power
to determine their own project selection procedures and to
determine who should be involved in the decision-making process. 
States were also able to design an internal or external selection

     Eligible projects include trail construction, reconstruction,
maintenance and grooming; restoration of natural environments
damaged by trail use; provision of trail-side and trail-head
facilities; access for the disabled; property acquisition; and
operation of trail environmental protection and safety education

     In the event that funding for this program should become
available again, trail advocates should contact their State Trails
Coordinator for information about the application process,
selection procedures, selection criteria and any other policies
governing the program.  RTC maintains a current list of State
Trails Coordinators.

ISTEA and Trails

ISTEA and Trails

Section Ill: What Has Been Achieved in Three Years: Enhancements &

Transportation Enhancements: A 1990's Gold Rush

A Look at the Numbers

     The significance of $341 million in federal investment in
bicycle and pedestrian facilities from Enhancement funds is
understood only when one recognizes that federal highway funds have
never before flowed at such a high rate.  In the eighteen years
prior to ISTEA, a little more than $41 million, nationwide, was
spent on bicycle and pedestrian facilities.  In the first three
fiscal years under ISTEA (1992-94) RTC found a fifty-fold increase
in funding of non-motorized transportation projects (see Figure
3) -- not including any bicycle/pedestrian funding from the CMAQ or
other ISTEA programs.  Of this $341 million, $255.3 million, or 75
percent, has been for trails and other off-road, multi-use

Click HERE for graphic.

     In addition to these federal funds, local communities have
demonstrated their strong interest in and commitment to trail
development with $94.3 million in matching funds -- 27 percent of
the total cost of the projects.  ISTEA requires only a 20 percent
non-federal match, which means that the local sponsors have
provided, on average, a 7 percent over-match.

ISTEA and Trails

     Of the total 2068 enhancements projects identified by RTC
nationwide, 744, or 36 percent, are trail projects8 (see Figure 4). 
What is most impressive about these trail projects is their
geographic spread across the nation and across traditional American
subcultures.  Forty-one

                              Figure 4

                  Enhancement-Funded Trail Projects

                         Federal   Match                 No. of
Facility Type             Share     Share    Total     Projects

Rail-Trails              $113.6    $45.1     $158.7    268
Greenway Trails*         $141.7    $48.9     $190.6    476
                          -----     ----      -----    ----
Totals                   $255.3    $94.0     $349.3    774

*Greenway Trails include a wide variety of off-road trails and
sidepaths that are not rail-trails.

states have funded one or more trail projects.  Trail projects are
top priority requests in rural, suburban and urban areas alike; in
both cold northern states and warm southern climates; in the older,
more traditional, cities and townships of the eastern United States
as well as the younger, less traditional, communities along the
west coast.  A full range of project sponsors are involved in these
trail projects as well, including cities, townships and county
governments, state natural resource agencies and non-profit trail
organizations.  In some cases, even quasi-governmental economic
development agencies or historic preservation organizations are the
lead sponsors for trail projects.

     The vast majority of these funds are being spent on trail
construction, however property acquisition is also being funded
(see Figure 5).  At least forty-three projects involved both
acquisition of right-of-way and trail construction.  For most trail
projects, engineering and design costs are counted as a part of
construction, however Illinois stands out as a state that often
funds engineering and design costs in one fiscal year and
construction costs the next.  Funding of trail planning efforts
remains rare -- RTC found only thirteen projects nationwide
accessing $1.5 million in federal funds for this effort.


(8) In addition to these trail projects, another 330 non-trail,
bicycle and pedestrian projects have been funded with enhancements
moneys.  The federal share of these projects amounts to $85.7
million.  They include on-road bike lanes and shoulders, sidewalks,
bike parking at transit facilities, funding of state bicycle and
pedestrian program coordinators, etc.

ISTEA and Trails

Click HERE for graphic.

     With hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on new
trails, it is important to ask how many miles of new treadway is
being built.  Unfortunately, due to incomplete state reporting,
current RTC data on mileage is only partial.  Fifty-five percent
(419) of the trail projects included a linear mileage figure --
whether that is miles of trail to be built, miles of corridor to be
acquired, or miles of corridor being engineered or master planned. 
These partial numbers show over 1000 miles of trail funded for
construction and nearly 700 miles of new right-of-way acquired (see
Figure 6).

                              Figure 6

             Miles of Enhancements-Funded Trail Projects

          Project Type                            Linear Mileage

          Acquisition                                   699
          Planning                                       73
          Combination Const.& Acq.                      100
          Engineering & Design                          111
          Construction                                 1033

          Total                                        2017

ISTEA and Trails

What are We Building?

     In the spirit of the Interior Department's Trails for All
Americans report, enhancements funds are overwhelmingly being
awarded to community trails that are close to home.  Because of the
importance of a trail's potential transportation function, back-
country trails are not a primary recipient of state TEP funds.  In
a few instances, however, trails leading to state or locally
managed natural areas, or related to National Scenic Trails are
being funded.  Figure 7 provides a more substantive description of
the trends found by RTC.

                              Figure 7

                Trends in Enhancements-Funded Trails

* Rail-Trails: Preservation of abandoned rail corridors and their
conversion to multi-use trails is a common use of enhancements
funds.  Activities included acquisition of land and/or easements
and construction of rail-trails and other improvements along rail-

* Rails-with Trails: RTC is finding an increasing number of rail
corridor preservation projects where trails will be built along
active rail lines.

* Waterfront Trails: Another common trend is the development of
multi-use greenway trails along water, including creeks, streams,
rivers, lakes, oceans and various urban waterfronts.

* Combining the TEAs: Increasingly, state selection processes seem
to facor projects that combine two or more of the ten enhancement
activities. Thus, as time passes, we are seeing more historic,
scenic and landscaping projects with bicycle and pedestrian trail
elements.  RTC is also noticing more trail projects that integrate
the adjacent historic and scenic resources in to the trail
development plan, especially along rail-trails, canals, and river

* Innovative Concepts: The most innovative projects have been
emerging in the second and third rounds of funding.  In Michigan,
an historic mill property was rehabilitated as a trail support
facility with restrooms, a bike repair and rental store and snack
shop.  The trail segment which crosses this property connects a
major greenway trail with an on-street bike route along an urban
     In Oregon, "roads-to-trails" are being funded as abandoned
sections of the historic Columbia River Scenic Highway are restored
to provide critical additions to the non-motorized route through
the Columbia Gorge.  Prior to this project, Interstate 84 was the
only passable public right-of-way for bicyclists and hikers.

* Bridges: There are also a significant number of projects that
focus on providing or upgrading major bridges.  These bridges may
make connections between opposite river bank trails or otherwise
disconnected activity centers in a community, or they may provide
relief for bicyclists and pedestrians from inadequate and dangerous
conditions on existing highway bridges.

ISTEA and Trails

                         Figure 7 (continued

* Spot Improvements and System Completion: In states such as
Minnesota, Michigan, and Illinois, a significant share of the
projects funded are what might be called "spot improvements" to
well-used and expanding of, or improvements to, on-street segments
which are necessary to retain travel continuity on otherwise off-
street trails; 3) additions of overpasses or underpasses to
eliminate at-grade road crossing; and 4) paving segments of heavily
used trails that have only a dirt or crushed limestone surfaces.

* Trails System Building: Project names and descriptions suggest
that a fair number of awards are being dedicated to the initial
segments of multi-phased projects.  In Washington State, this
translates to discrete segments of well-planned, comprehensive
trail systems being funded.

* Trails in College Towns: Many trail projects are oriented to
serving colleges and universities and their surrounding
neighborhoods.  It seems these cities and towns are capitalizing on
a predemonstrated need and/or use of bicycling and pedestrian

* Park Agencies Gaining Access to Funding: In a number of states,
including Indiana, Illinois, Oregon, Missouri, South Dakota, and
West Virginia, it is clear that the state park/nature resource
agency has successfully gained access to the TEP for funding of its
linear park and trail development programs.

* Rural Trails and Tourism: In many western states, including
California, Colorado, South Dakota, and Utah, trail developments
are taking place in small communities that are dependent on tourism
and recreational resorts for economic vitality.  In some eastern
states, such as Pennsylvania and West Virginia, rural trail
projects are linked with industrial heritage projects and the
tourism and economic development potential found in historic
preservation activities.

* National Scenic Trails: There are a few projects which relate
directly to the National Scenic Trails: Virginia has approved a
project to construct a new bridge across the James River for the
Appalachian Trail (AT) which reroutes hikers around an unsafe
highway bridge crossing, and New Jersey has funded improvements to
an AT trailhead and parking area.  There may be any number of
projects that will ultimately become part of the American Discovery
Trail including projects on the Katy Trail in Missouri and
Anacostia Headwaters Greenway in Prince George's County, Maryland. 
In Oregon, development of the Springwater Trail and other trail
segments from Portland to Estacada will enable hikers to make a
primarily off-street trek from downtown Portland to the Pacific
Crest Trail near Mt. Hood

     Finally, it should be noted that the terminology used to refer
to multi-use trails in enhancements projects is far from
consistent.  Frequently used terms include trail, trailway,
bikeway, bike path, sidepath, hiker/biker train, greenway,
greenbelt, pathway, bike/ped path, walkway, and path.  Other terms
like rail-trail, esplanade, boardwalk, sidewalk, and towpath are
found less often, and clearly indicate unique facility designs and
settings.  Use of such a wide range of terms that do not have
commonly understood technical definitions makes exact analysis more

ISTEA and Trails

Analysis of Policies, Project Selection and Implementation

     RTC research has identified three major issues of concern
regarding state TEPs: 1) the low level of citizen participation in
project selection processes; 2) sluggishness in implementing
projects once funding has been awarded, and 3) unnecessary and
counterproductive restrictions surrounding eligibility of private
matching funds and in-kind matches.  Other problems have surfaced
in small numbers of states, however most of these problems are
unique to the particular dynamics of the state's approach to
transportation decision making.  In most states, the process and
procedures governing project selection and administration are
generally adequate.

     As a result of FHWA's National Transportation Enhancements
Conference in June 1994, many state DOTs are making improvements to
their TEPs that will be implemented in subsequent funding rounds. 
Moreover, FHWA has promised to issue further formal guidance on
Transportation Enhancements in the Fall of 1994. The Surface
Transportation Policy  Project's Committee has provided FHWA
specific recommendations regarding additional guidance and needed
policy changes.

     For a comprehensive examination of the issues noted above,
refer to Enhancing America's Communities, Second Edition, June
1994.  For in-depth technical assistance on these or other issues
involving TEPs or enhancements-funded projects, RTC also
distributes a technical guidance packet and copies of eight issue
papers that were prepared for the National Transportation
Enhancements Conference in June 1994. (See order form in Appendix

          A special note regarding equestrian use of trails

Information gathered by RTC on equestrian use of ISTEA-funded
trails suggests that states are treating this issue differently and
it has become a major problem in a few states.  Some state DOTs
require strict adherence to the AASHTO Bicycle Facility Development
Guidelines which strongly urge against multiple-use (bike/horse)
trails.  It appears that this guideline has become an excuse for
some agencies to exclude horseback riders from trails.  RTC
believes that multiple uses can be accommodated on most trails by
employing the appropriate design treatments.  This is not to say
that all corridors have the width or are otherwise appropriate for
including equestrian use, however, RTC supports a policy that makes
funding of equestrian elements on trails eligible for Enhancements
moneys where this use is appropriate.  A compelling case can be
made that a significant share of trips by all modes, including
automobiles, are recreational.  Thus, to exclude equestrian use
because it is purely recreational indicates a double standard and
discriminatory practice that is not justified merely because ISTEA
is involved.  Equestrian advocates are beginning to argue, like
bicyclists in recent years have argued, that the horse can and is
used for utilitarian transportation.  Finally, and maybe most
importantly, where equestrians have had shared access to unpaved
trailss which are now being hard-surfaced with Enhancements funds,
this access should bot ne lost with ISTEA-funded trail

ISTEA and Trails

National Recreational Trails Fund Act: Great Projects, Too Little

A Look at the Numbers

     Three annual transportation appropriations have been passed
since ISTEA became law.  Of these three rounds, only one included
funding for NRTFA, and it was partial funding at that -- $7.5
million in FY 1993.  If funded at authorized levels of $30 million
annually, Congress could have made available $90 million for this
program in FY 1992 - 1994.

     Of the $7.5 million appropriated in FY 1993, $225,000 was set
aside for program administration at the national level and the
remainder ($7.275 million) was apportioned to states for project
funding.  As of September 1, 1994, over 93 percent of funds
available to states have been committed to projects and other
program related activities -- a total of $6,819,430.  States were
given two fiscal years (FY93 and FY94) to fully obligate available
funds.  According to figures provided by the Federal Highway
Administration, two jurisdictions -- Puerto Rico and Ohio -- have
yet to obligate any funds.  Four states - Arkansas, Missouri,
Oklahoma, and West Virginia -- have spent less than 60 percent of
their available funds (see Appendix C).

     While Congress has made very little money available, FHWA
research shows that demand at the local level remains high. 
Thirty-six states reported $24.6 million in unfunded requests -- a
total of 848 projects.  Some of these requests are likely to
represent low priority projects or even ineligible activities,
however a 3 to 1 ratio of requests to available funding suggests
that demand for this program is strong.  This is despite widespread
knowledge in many states that less than $300,000 statewide would be

     NRTFA is not subject to the standard matching requirements (80
percent federal / 20 percent non-federal).  Nonetheless, many
states instituted a matching policy or suggested that matching
funds be offered in project proposals.  Nationally, this resulted
in the leveraging of as much in non-federal funds as federal funds9
-- $ 6.4 million to match the $6.8 million in federal funds
obligated.  Moreover, attached to the $24 million in unfunded
requests was another $13.5 million in unused matching funds. 10


9 Non-federal matching funds consisted of cash grants, the value of
land donations, in-kind services and materials.

10 Some projects may be able to advance in a limited manner using
only the matching fund allotment.  However, it is often the case
that without the federal funds, in-kind services and other
donations cannot be effectively utilized.

ISTEA and Trails

     The Act specified that a minimum of 30 percent of each state's
allocation must be spent for uses benefiting motorized recreation,
as well as a minimum 30 percent benefiting nonmotorized recreation. 
The FHWA is tracking funding in five categories: Single Use Non-
motorized, Diversified Non-motorized, Diversified Motorized and
Non-motorized, Single Use Motorized, and Diversified Motorized. 
Figure 8 provides the nationwide obligation totals in each of these
categories, as well as obligation percentages, and number of states
making obligations in each category.

                              Figure 8

                 NRTFA Nationwide Trail Obligations
                           by Use Category

                         Total Trail              States Making
     Non-Motorized       Obligations    Percent   Obligation> $0

1) Single Use             $955,189      15.13%         30
2) Diversified Use       $2,475,820     39.21%         44
   Non-motorized Total:   $3,431,009    54.34%

3) Diversified Non-
   motorized/Motorizded  $1,364,992     21.62%         32

4) Single Use              $394,593      6.25%         18
5) Diversified Use       $1,123,018     17.79%         32
   Motorized Total:      $1,515,611     24.04%
                          ---------     ------         ---
 Totals                  $6,313,612       100%              48

     *The figures in bold are not part of the equation creating the
     totals at the bottom.

     With the information shown in Figure 8, calculations can be
made on a national level to determine if the "30 percent minimums"
are being met.  However, the Act states that the minimums must be
met on a state-by-state basis.  To determine compliance, as the Act
defines it, would take a more detailed analysis of FHWA data.  11
Analysis of nationwide FHWA totals, however, reveals that both of
the "30 percent minimums" have been met (see Figure 9).

11 Because complete data for all states was not available in time
for thorough analysis by RTC, this report examines this issue only
from a national perspective.  FHWA informed RTC in September that
until additional funding is provided for this program, FHWA will
not be able to make a formal determination regarding each state's
compliance with the 30/30/40 funding minimums.

ISTEA and Trails

     In addition to the two "30 percent minimums," NRTFA requires
that 40 percent of the funding must be allocated to projects that
serve diversified trail use.  FHWA defines diversified use as that
which accommodates more than one distinct mode of travel regardless
of the motorized/non-motorized mix.  Hiking and bicycling are two
distinct non-motorized modes, motorcycles and ATVs are distinct
motorized uses.  Again using the national totals, this 40 percent
requirement for diversified use has been easily met (again, see
Figure 9).

                              Figure 9

                         "30/30/40" Minimums

30 Percent Minimum to Benefit Motorized Uses
     The 24 percent total for motorized use combined with 21.6
     percent for Diversified Motorized and Non-motorized uses means
     that 45.6 percent of funds are benefiting trails for motorized

30 Percent Minimum to Benefit Non-motorized Uses
     The 54.3 percent total for non-motorized use plus 21.6 percent
     for the Diversified Motorized and Non-motorized projects
     totals 75.9 percent of funds benefiting non-motorized use of

40 Percent Minimum to Benefit Diversified Uses
     17.8%     Diversified Motorized trails
     39.2%     Diversified Non-motorized trails
     21.6%     Diversified Motorized and Non-motorized
     78.6%     Total Funds for facilities serving diverse uses

This analysis does not hide the fact that a majority of funding is
benefiting non-motorized trail use.  It appears that nationwide,
state-established priorities for this program favor funding
diversified-use trails.  However ten states, including Alaska,
Arizona, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Utah,
spent as much, or more, for motorized trails as for non-motorized.

     The set-aside structure established by the Act also states
that up to seven percent of a state's apportionment can be used for
local administrative costs, and up to five percent can be used for
educational projects.  According to FHWA, 42 states used all or a
portion of their administrative funds -- representing 72 percent of
the total available nationwide.  Only 22 states obligated funds for
educational projects, using 39 percent of the total funds available
for this activity.  Of the minimum $6.4 million (88 percent) that
must be allocated to trail projects, 95.35 percent was so

12 Some of the trail projects attributed to the Diversified Use,
Motorized category are also open to non-motorized use.

ISTEA and Trails

What are We Building?

     FHWA has developed a fairly detailed data set on all NRTFA
projects.  Project descriptions include funding levels, linear
lengths, locations, land management agencies, allowed uses and
other details about each project.  In addition, some project
characteristics have been quantified and aggregate totals
calculated.  This has allowed RTC to assess what NRTFA funds are
actually accomplishing on the ground in both a qualitative and
quantitative manner.  Figure 1O provides a structured look at
NRTFA-funded projects:

Click HERE for graphic.

ISTEA and Trails

Figure 11 illustrates, in a thematic way, how NRTFA money was used.

                              Figure 11

                Illustrations of NRTFA-Funded Trails

* Accessibility for Disabled Trail Users: A significant number of
projects included elements to make trails accessible.  Activities
included installation of Braille signs, developing accessible
trails and accessible segments of larger trail networks, and other
types of infrastructure improvements to make trails easily

* Urban Trails: A surprising number of trails funded with NRTFA
funds were in urban and suburban communities.  Often these trails
provided linkages to natural areas like sanctuaries and refuges. 
They also provided utilitarian transportation options.

* Innovative Intermodal Conversions: In Georgia, a forest road has
been converted to a non-motorized trail using NRTFA funds, and in
New Mexico an abandoned airport complex has been converted to a
trail park.  Also in New Mexico, a former cattle trail has been
converted into a multi-use recreational trail.  However, one of the
most unique intermodal conversions took place in New Hampshire,
where funds repaired a bridge which supports an abandoned railway. 
The railway is used by recreational rail equipment owners or "rail-
riders."  Rail-riders use specially equipped bicycles, or
traditional hand pumped (or motor-driven) handcars, to ride on
existing rails.  The 8-mile corridor also includes a parallel trail
used by pedestrians, bicyclists, skiers, and snowmobilers.

* Traditional Intermodal Conversions, Rail-Trails and Canal
Towpaths: RTC identified more than 30 rail-trail projects receiving
NRTFA funding, and two canal trail (tow path) projects.

* Public/Private Partnerships: Many NRTFA projects have involved
partnerships between the private sector and public agencies.  This
included non-profit trail groups and user clubs private land owners
and business partnering with county, state and federal agencies.

* Projects on Federal Lands:  Only 16 percent of obligated funds
($1,082,979) went to projects located on federal lands, primarily
U.S. Forest Service lands, but also Bureau of Land Management
lands, National Park lands, and properties of other federal

*Projects on National Scenic and Historic Trails: RTC identified
three projects on the Appalachian Trail (two on New Jersey, one in
Virginia), one on the Continental Divide Trail in Montana and one
along the National Historic Trail of Tears in Tennessee.

Analysis of Policies, Project Selection and Implementation

     Very little data has been collected by the FHWA regarding the
NRTFA project selection process.  However, it is known that thirty-
four states awarded funds to projects through a 

ISTEA and Trails

competitive grant making process which was advertised within the
trails community and other relevant constituencies.  Eighteen
states awarded grants only to projects selected by the
administrating agency or other authorities invited to assist in
decision making.  In the latter case, projects considered for
funding were likely to be only those that were already high on the
administering agency's priority list.

     Most states have established Recreational Trail Advisory
Boards as a result of NRTFA, and many, but not all of these boards
were involved in reviewing project proposals and making project
selections.  Some states already had statewide trail advisory
committees in existence and simply assigned oversight of this new
program to the existing committee.

     A few states claimed exemption from the 30/30/40 provisions
based on the Small State Exclusion included in the Act, and at
least one state advisory board voted to deviate from the minimum
allocations, a provision also allowed for in the law.  While a
thorough analysis has not been conducted by FHWA, or any trail
advocacy group, Mississippi is the only state that appears to be in
non-compliance with the 30 percent minimum for the benefit of
motorized uses and the 40 percent minimum for diverse use projects
(without an approved exemption).  A definitive list of states that
have achieved an exemption either by advisory board vote or the
small state provisions has not been assembled.

ISTEA and Trails

Section IV: Conclusions and Action Plan


     The revised programmatic structure and explicit trail
eligibility created by ISTEA provides a well healed new vehicle for
the trails community to truly develop a nationwide system of
interconnected trails and greenways.  While it is a typical
American vehicle -- oversized, and slow to accelerate -- it has a
large and relatively full gas tank, and it's already in gear!
Anyone in the trails community who has not yet climbed aboard
should do so immediately!

     Creating a Nationwide Trail System: After three years of
monitoring and tracking ISTEA implementation, RTC encourages the
trails community to be aware of six key issues if we are to ensure
that a high quality, locally accessible, but nationwide trail
system is indeed created as a result of ISTEA's federal
transportation investments:

     * Full integration of trail and transportation planning at the
state and local level.  This includes continued increases in the
levels of public participation in the transportation planning
process, and greater cooperation and coordination between various
government agencies at all levels, especially local, regional and

     * Ensuring that new trails being built and old trails being
upgraded are designed to optimal standards, guidelines and
specifications.  Traditional guidelines and specifications, as well
as more innovative micro-design solutions, are undergoing constant
evolution in this rapidly changing field.  Effective compilation
and dissemination of a comprehensive set of design treatments is
not yet done on a national basis.  Because most new trails
accommodate multiple-uses (meaning they are used by more than one
mode of travel, and for both recreational and transportation
purposes) it is critical that park trail designers, new to the
transportation world, and highway engineers, new to the trails
world, learn about, and have easy access to the best available
ideas and resources.

     * Minimizing of the transportation / recreation distinction
when it comes to questions of funding eligibility for particular
facilities.  This is a non-issue in the world of highways and auto
use, and trails should not be subject to this double standard.  The
FHWA has an excellent policy on this matter ( FHWA Guidance
Memorandum, May 7, 1991) which should be endorsed and used by all.

     * Promotion of trail development as a key infrastructure
component necessary for reaching the two goals set forth in The
National Bicycling and Walking Study: to double the percentage of
all trips taken by bicycle and pedestrian modes, while reducing
injuries and fatalities for bicyclists and pedestrians by ten

     * Recognition of the strengths of and importance for both of
the key trail programs in ISTEA: Enhancements and NRTFA.  The
analysis presented in this report suggests that Enhancements is a
major source of funding which is effective primarily for trail
acquisition and construction.  NRTFA is a valuable source for
projects that do not fit the enhancements mold, including small
scale projects, maintenance activities, amenity development, and
efforts that need the flexibility offered by relief from Title I

ISTEA and Trails

     * Realization that ISTEA is more than Enhancements and NRTFA. 
Though gaining access to the nine other more highway-oriented
programs is difficult, examples do exist of trail projects which
have been funded with these moneys.  Whether or not the trails
community continues to make in-roads into these other programs will
depend largely upon the degree to which trail advocates become
adept at playing the transportation game.

     The Trail Advocate's Role in ISTEA Implementation: Trail
advocates should observe ISTEA implementation of trail projects in
their states and local communities with an eye toward these issues. 
They should take appropriate actions to encourage new ways of
thinking and look for methods of cooperation to remedy problems
created by the oversights of local community or agency

     Finally, when considering ISTEA and trails, trail advocates
need to recognize that Congress authorized ISTEA at $151 BILLION,
not just $3 billion for the transportation enhancements program, or
$30 million for the NRTFA, or $6 billion for the Congestion
Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ).  While
tremendous strides have been made in securing ISTEA funding for
trails, the ISTEA cooler has just begun to be tapped!

ISTEA and Trails

Reauthorization Action Plan

The Politics of Reauthorization

     There is little doubt that many of the advances made in ISTEA
which permit transportation funds to be spent on trails will come
under attack during the reauthorization of ISTEA in 1996.  In the
coming two years, trail advocates must become better informed
players within the state and local transportation decision making
arena and stronger advocates for maintaining the trail enhancing
language included in ISTEA.  The following discussion lays out a
framework for understanding and a plan of action.

     Federal transportation law is codified in Title 23 of the
Unites States Code.  It is updated by Congress every five to six
years through a process called reauthorization.  The trail funding
programs described in this report entered the code with ISTEA in
1991, the most recent reauthorization.

     The fight for NRTFA during 1991 reauthorization was visible
and fractious.  It is partially that legacy that has crippled
funding for this program.  The inclusion of trails among the ten
eligible enhancement activities was far more subtle and obscured by
the focus on bicycle and pedestrian facilities in general, and the
details of transportation formulas and set-aside provisions.  The
potential windfall for trails was not clear during reauthorization,
even to the most discerning trail advocate's eye.

     If legislative activities proceed on schedule, the next
reauthorization debate will occur during the spring and summer of
1996, and the resulting law will become effective October 1, 1997. 
The trail-funding enhancement provisions will not slip by
unchallenged again.  There are strong voices in Washington who
believe that revenue generated by the federal gas tax should be
spent exclusively on highways for pavement for cars and trucks, not
trails with a range of other users.

     The trails community must organize to participate in the
reauthorization process on an equal footing with other interests. 
Its goal should be to assure that trails have stature commensurate
with other transportation facilities under the new law and that
funding levels are not diminished, but maintained or increased.

     Although reauthorizing legislation is not scheduled to be
voted on until 1996, the process begins in 1995.  Two Congressional
Committees, and their Subcommittees, will play determinative roles
relative to the content of the legislation:

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
     Subcommittee on Water Resources, Transportation, Public
     Buildings, and Economic Development

House Public Works and Transportation Committee
     Subcommittee on Surface Transportation

ISTEA and Trails

Show Congress ISTEA-Funded Trails

     If carried out by trail advocates across the country, the
following six step plan to show Members of Congress the trails that
have been funded by ISTEA, will greatly strengthen our
reauthorization position:

     1) Immediately add your name to a reauthorization information
mailing list.  You can do so by filling out the form in Appendix
(D) and returning it to Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.  It offers
three information options: the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy for the
Show Congress Campaign, the Surface Transportation Policy Project
for overall reauthorization updates, and the Coalition for
Recreational Trails for specific information on NRTFA.

     2) In February 1995, after the 104th Congress has been elected
and reorganized, call your Representative and Senators and ask what
Committee assignments they have.  If the response includes serving
on either Senate Environment and Public Works or House Public Works
and Transportation, inquire about their subcommittee assignments. 
If any of these factors match, you will potentially play an
especially important role in reauthorization.

     3) In March of 1995 contact Marianne Fowler, Government
Affairs Manager, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (202-797-5404), or
other staff members of the RTC Policy Division.  Ask for an updated
list of all the trail projects funded through ISTEA in your state,
and citizen contacts for each project.

     4) In April of 1995 contact other trail advocates and trail
groups in your state or Congressional District and begin organizing
an ISTEA and Trails field trip and briefing for your
Representative(s) and Senators when they are home for 1995 Summer
Recess (dates unknown, but traditionally late July or early
August).  Be creative, have lots of fun, and arrange for the press.

     If your Representative or Senator is on one of the key
subcommittees, strategize with RTC about the value of having an RTC
representative (time and funding permitting), or someone else from
the Washington, D.C. trails community, join you in the field.

5) Summer recess -- show the Congress how important ISTEA trails
are to their constituents with a first-class field trip.  Provide
feedback to RTC.  It will be invaluable in planning Congressional

6) Fall of 1995 to 1996: Stand by for next steps.

ISTEA and Trails

Click HERE for graphic.

Click HERE for graphic.

Click HERE for graphic.


Assured Access Funding Category Definitions for NRT Projects:

1.   Non-motorized single use: A project primarily intended to
     benefit only one mode of non-motorized recreational use. 
     Projects serving various pedestrian uses (such as walking,
     hiking, access by wheelchair, running, jogging, bird-watching,
     nature interpretation, back-packing, etc.) constitute a single
     use for the purposes of this category.  Also, projects serving
     various non-motorized snow uses (such as skiing,, snowshoeing,
     etc.) constitute a single use for this category.

2.   Non-motorized diverse use: A project primarily intended to
     benefit more than one mode of nonmotorized recreational use.

3.   Diverse use, both motorized and non-motorized: A project
     primarily intended to benefit at least one mode of motorized
     recreational use and at least one mode of non-motorized use. 
     This may include a project where motorized and non-motorized
     activities take place in different seasons.

4.   Motorized single use: A project primarily intended to benefit
     only one mode of motorized recreational use.  It is not
     necessary that the project specifically exclude non-motorized

5.   Motorized diverse use: A project primarily intended to benefit
     more than one mode of motorized recreational use.  It is not
     necessary that the project specifically exclude non-motorized

Definitions of Other Terms

Motorized: Off-road recreation using any motorized vehicle.  The
most common modes are ATV, fourwheel drive (or other light utility
vehicle), motorcycle, and snowmobile.  At the discretion of each
State, the term may exclude motorized wheelchairs as defined under
"Motorized wheelchair".

Non-motorized: Off-road recreation by a non-motorized mode.  The
most common modes are bicycle, dog-sled, equestrian, pedestrian,
skate, and ski.

Official Use: Use of motorized vehicles for official purposes
(emergency, enforcement, maintenance, etc.) may be permitted on
otherwise non-motorized trails at the discretion of the appropriate
Federal, State, and/or local officials and/or land managers.  Use
of motorized vehicles for official purposes does not constitute
diversified recreational trail use for motorized and non-motorized

Pedestrian: Any person travelling by foot, and any mobility-
impaired person using a manual or motorized wheelchair.  This
program is intended to treat a mobility-impaired person using a
manual or motorized wheelchair as a pedestrian, and is not
intended- to restrict the activities of such a person beyond the
degree that the activities of a pedestrian are restricted.

Manual wheelchair: A device that is propelled by human power,
designed for and used by a mobility impaired person.

Motorized wheelchair: A self-propelled wheeled device, designed
solely for and used by a mobility impaired person for locomotion,
that is both capable of and suitable for use in indoor pedestrian

                              Provided by the Federal Highway Admin.

                                                          Appendix D

I want to receive ongoing information about the reauthorization

Add my name to the following mailing list(s).
          Please check one or more:

----      Trail Advocates Database, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
          (for showing Congress ISTEA-Trails Campaign, and specific
          information on Enhancements)

----      Surface Transportation Policy Project
          (for overall ISTEA reauthorization updates)

----      Coalition for Recreational Trails
          (for specific information on NRTFA)

Name:          ________________________________________

Organization:  ________________________________________
& Title
Address:       ________________________________________

City:_______________________ State:_________ Zip:______

Phone: _____________________ Fax:______________________

My Senators are: 1)________________ 2)_________________

My Representative is:_____________________

Other Members of Congress I know well: _________________________

     Marianne Fowler
     Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
     Suite 300, 1400 16th Street, NW
     Washington, DC 20036

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