Transportation Alternatives Enhancement Act


ASLA promotes legislation that advances active transportation, including bicycle and pedestrian projects, and supports the enhancement of the Federal Highway Administration’s Transportation Alternatives program.


The Transportation Alternatives (TA) program was originally established in 1991 as the Transportation Enhancements program under the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA). Since then, subsequent surface transportation laws have altered the program’s guidelines, eligibility requirements, and funding. Under current law, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, the TA program is a set-aside program within the FHWA’s Surface Transportation Block Grant program. The program provides funding for states and other entities to plan, design, and construct smaller-scale transportation projects, such as pedestrian and bicycle facilities, recreational trails, safe routes to school projects, and community improvements including historic preservation, vegetation management, environmental mitigation related to stormwater, and habitat connectivity. The TA program provides nearly half of all federal funding for bicycle and walking projects. Currently, the program is funded at $850 million a year. However, local governments request nearly twice that amount each year, demonstrating the need for the program and increased funding.

The TA program has a proven track record of successfully implementing active transportation projects across the nation. However, many communities have expressed concern about the funding formula for the program. Under current law, 50 percent of a state’s TA funds go to the state-run grant program, and 50 percent are distributed to communities based on population. In small communities and rural areas, this means funding is often too small for more than one project. Additionally, many small and mid-size communities do not always have the technical capacity to put together strong applications and navigate the implementation process.

Bill Summary

To address communities’ needs for additional active transportation projects, S. 1098, the Transportation Alternatives Enhancement Act, was introduced in the U.S. Senate. This legislation would increase funding for the TA program to approximately $1.2 billion. The bill would allow local communities greater access to the program by having states utilize 34 percent of their TA funding for the state-run grant program and distributing 66 percent of TA funding to local communities. The legislation would also allow for 5 percent of TA funding to be used for technical assistance to help communities with the application process for the program.

The Transportation Alternatives Enhancement Act is supported by several of ASLA’s allied organizations, including the American Planning Association; National Recreation and Park Association; National Complete Streets Coalition; League of American Bicyclists; Safe Routes to School National Partnership; National League of Cities; U.S. Conference of Mayors; AARP; American Public Health Association; and others.

Recent Action

On April 9, 2019, Senators Ben Cardin (MD) and Roger Wicker (MS) introduced S. 1098, the Transportation Alternatives Enhancement Act.


Senator Benjamin Cardin (MD) and Roger Wicker (MS) cosponsors.  


Roxanne Blackwell, 
Esq., Hon. ASLA,
Director of Federal
Government Affairs

Elizabeth Hebron,
Director of State
Government Affairs