U.S. Department of Transporation

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and other agencies of the department provide funding for the development, improvement, and maintenance of transportation facilities in the United States and its Territories. The activities of the Department of Transportation offer a vast array of opportunities for landscape architects because most program areas and projects involve substantial planning processes involving land use, and facility and landscape design, in addition to providing opportunities for community (urban and rural) planning, public involvement, community impacts, environmental studies and other relevant areas.

This section describes Federal transportation programs that may provide landscape architects opportunities for federal contracting work. Each section summarizes a program, and includes basic funding information and links to further information on applying for grants.

General Information Resources 

The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) is the major transportation law that authorizes the Federal surface transportation programs for highways, highway safety, and transit through 2009. SAFETEA-LU information is provided in a series of factsheets.

Appalachian Development Highway System
Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS)
Federal Lands Highways Program
Federal Transit Capital Investment Grants
National Scenic Byways Program
Recreational Trails Program
Safe Routes to Schools Program (SR2S)
Transportation Enhancement Program (TE)

Appalachian Development Highway System 

The Appalachian Development Highway System began in 1965 as an attempt to provide a highway system, which, in conjunction with other federally aided highways, will open up areas with development potential within the Appalachian region. The highway projects funded under this program involve environmentally sensitive construction, including the treatment of related open spaces, medians, and other land features associated with such construction. Landscape architects may find opportunities to provide design assistance under this program.

Funding Information: Federal assistance comes in the form of project grants, which may be used for preliminary engineering, right-of-way, and construction of highways. Total highway construction may not exceed 3,090 miles for the 13-State system. The Federal share is 80 percent, and funds are based on contract authority.

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) maintains a website with information about the system, including links to pages with maps of the system, updates on the current state of the highway system, and information about the program's funding.

Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) 

The FHWA is committed to advancing Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) nationwide to improve the environmental quality of transportation decision making by incorporating context sensitive solutions principles in all aspects of planning and the project development process.

Focused efforts to incorporate CSS into all aspects of transportation planning and project development include; the development and delivery of CSS training through initiatives to integrate CSS concepts into university curriculums; support and sponsorship of research projects, technical guidance handbooks, competitions and conferences; management and coordination of contracts and internal and external partnerships to link CSS with planning and project development.

The continued planning, funding and implementation of these activities is referred to as the FHWA CSS Program. Management and coordination of contracts and partnerships directly or indirectly related to the advancement of the implementation of CSS are considered FHWA CSS Program Activities. This list of activities is updated quarterly and represents recently completed and current CSS projects and initiatives. Contact information is included for each activity. Detailed technical information about CSS is available online.

FHWA is working in partnership with numerous organizations, including:
Project for Public Spaces
Scenic America
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)
Federal Transit Administration
Institute for Transportation Engineers
National Association of City Transportation Officals (NACTO)
National Park Service

Opportunities abound at all levels of practice for landscape architects: from small scale sight design to regional planning analysis. Funding is available through State DOTs, local agencies, and communities interested in place-based design of transport systems and facilities.

More Information:
CSS Objective
Performance Assessment
FHWA CSS Program Activities
Lead Organizations/Partners
CSS Network

Federal Lands Highways Program 

The Federal Lands Highways Program provides for transportation planning, research, engineering, and construction of highways, roads, and parkways and transit facilities that provide access to or within public lands, national parks, and Indian reservations. Eligible programs include Indian Reservation Roads, Park Roads and Parkways, Public Lands Highways (discretionary and Forest Highways), and Refuge Roads Programs. This program can provide landscape architects with opportunities to participate in the design of roadways, especially in environmentally sensitive areas.

Funding Information: The Federal Lands Highways Program provides funding for transportation planning, research, engineering, and construction of highways, roads, parkways, and transit facilities within applicable areas. These funds may serve as the State/local match for most types of Federal-aid highway funded projects. Information on funding and partner programsis also available.

Federal Transit Capital Investment Grants 

The Federal Transit Capital Investment Grant program dispenses funds in the forms of formula and project grants to local agencies to help finance the acquisition, construction, reconstruction, and improvement of public transportation systems. The transit program offers several projects that could benefit from a landscape architectural design perspective, including transit-oriented development projects that involve a mix of retail, commercial, and housing uses, as well as planned open space.

Eligible grant recipients include:
• public agencies, including states
• municipalities and other subdivisions of states
• public agencies and instrumentalities of one or more states
• public corporations, boards, and other commissions established under state law

Funding Information: The program is funded at an 80% Federal share, with 20% coming from State and local sources.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) maintains a comprehensive site with guidelines and other assistance, including basic grant requirements. A factsheet on the program that describes the program, development projects, and provides contact information for grant applicants.

Transit agencies and human services transport providers are advised to apply for funding on-line using the FTA’s Transportation Electronic Award Management (TEAM) system. Contact the local FTA Regional Office to get usernames and passwords to access the TEAM system and other assistance.

National Scenic Byways Program

The National Scenic Byways Program provides funds to States and Byway sponsors for routes that have been designated a National Scenic Byway or All-American Road by the Secretary of the USDOT. Working with the Byways program can provide landscape architects the opportunity to help develop and maintain a corridor management system. Through the Scenic Byways Program, landscape architects may find opportunities to help maintain the scenic, recreational, and cultural characteristics of a byway corridor.

Funding Information: In funding Scenic Byways program activities, the Federal government contributes up to 80% of a project’s total cost, the remaining 20% must come from State or local sources. NSBP funds may be used for activities related to the:
• planning, design, or development of a state or Indian tribe scenic byway program
• development and implementation of a byway corridor management plan
• improvements to accommodate increased traffic, enhance access, and protect resources adjacent to the byway
• development and implementation of a marketing program;
• development and provision of tourist implementation
• construction of bicycle and pedestrian facilities, interpretive facilities, overlooks and other enhancements for byway travelers

To be eligible for Federal funds, a transportation corridor must be designated an official Scenic Byway. The Secretary of Transportation designates a corridor as a Scenic Byway based on the route’s intrinsic qualities, including archaeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational, and scenic qualities.

To nominate a corridor, an applicant must prepare a management guide to their byway, including related documents, maps, photographs and other information. Applicants must also satisfy various Federal requirements.

Once nominated, a review panel made up Federal Highway Administration staff assesses the information provided by the applicant.

A corridor may apply for Federal funds after receiving Byway status. A guide to the Federal grant process provides information on the online application, an archive of federally funded projects, and the nominations and grant funding cycles. For further guidance, a grant seeker may contact their State Byways Coordinator.

Recreational Trails Program 

The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) makes funds available to the states to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both non-motorized and motorized recreational trail uses. This program can provide opportunities for landscape architects to participate in trail enhancement activities.

Funding Information: RTP funds are distributed to the states by legislative formula: half of the funds are distributed equally among all states, and half are distributed in proportion to the estimated amount of non-highway recreational fuel use in each state. Each state administers its own Recreational Trails program. Available program guidance includes information on accessibility and state programs. To learn about programs and eligibility by state, contact your State Recreational Trails Program Administrator.

Safe Routes to Schools Program 

The Safe Routes to Schools (SR2S) Program provides funds for communities to plan, design, and construct infrastructure-related projects that will improve the ability of students to walk and bicycle to school. Under this program, landscape architects can have the opportunity to work on projects that develop safe roadways for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Eligible projects may include:
• sidewalk improvements
• traffic calming and speed reduction improvements
• pedestrian and bicycle crossing improvements
• on-street bicycle facilities
• off-street bicycle and pedestrian facilities
• secure bicycle parking facilities
• traffic diversion improvements in the vicinity of schools

Funding Information: Each state receives federal funds to administer their own Safe Routes to Schools program. The state DOT has discretion over the state, local, and regional agencies eligible for funding. Estimated federal funding levels by state through 2009 are available. Individual State information can be found on each state's Department of Transportation website.

Information for grant seekers
General resources include information on:
• A list of local or state-level programswith Safe Routes to Schools Programs
• The FHWA SR2S program
Information on eligible projects, including applicable locations

To find out the requirements in your State, it is best to contact your state Safe Routes to Schools Coordinator.

Transportation Enhancement Program

The Transportation Enhancement (TE) program's purpose is to strengthen cultural, aesthetic, and environmental aspects of the United States’ intermodal transportation system. The TE program specifically mentions landscape stewardship as eligible for funding, which can provide unique opportunities for landscape architects to work on projects that promote preservation, control outdoor advertising, and mitigate environmental degradation.

Eligible uses of funds include:
• Historic preservation, including historic battlefields
• Provision of facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists
• Acquisition of scenic easements for scenic and historic sites
• Landscape and other scenic beautification

Funding Information: The USDOT apportions TE funds to individual states, which administer their individual programs. TE funds are awarded to local recipients as reimbursable agreements for the cost of completed projects. The Federal share of the cost is up to 80 percent, with the remaining 20 percent of funds coming from alternate sources, such as donations and state funds.

General Information is available on eligible roadways and highways, including eligibility requirements, a history of legislation, and information about Transportation Enhancement apportionments, rescissions, and obligations.

The National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse is a comprehensive resource that provides an overview of the TE program, information about the TE program in each State, and a database of TE projects.

To apply for TE funds, interested parties should contact their state Department of Transportation, the entity responsible for the implementation of the TE program and the local allocation of funds. TE staff at the FHWA division office ensures that State DOTs comply with federal regulations related to the TE program.


ASLA Government Affairs