As we all pin our hopes on the transformative potential of the Active Transportation Program (ATP)—California’s consolidated funding stream for walking, biking, and Safe Routes to School—Cal WALKS and our state partners have been hard at work with the California Transportation Commission (CTC) to develop guidelines that will ensure that hope becomes our reality. Since the ATP was signed by Governor Brown, the CTC has hosted a series of stakeholder meetings to inform the development of the guidelines—all on a very ambitious timeline of a March 2014 adoption of the final guidelines, immediately followed by the first ATP call for projects. In keeping with the aggressive timeline, the CTC released preliminary draft guidelines on November 27, and CTC staff is actively soliciting feedback from already engaged stakeholders, as well as the broader public. For a primer on SB 99, which created the ATP and its requirements, see this fact sheet developed by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership.
Our Coalition of statewide active transportation, Safe Routes to School, health, and equity advocates secured many groundbreaking provisions in SB 99, including:
- Requiring no less than 25% of ATP funds be awarded to projects that benefit disadvantaged communities;
- Preserving a minimum funding floor for Safe Routes to School projects, including non-infrastructure programs;
- Requiring that the ATP deliver a “broad spectrum of projects to benefit many types of active transportation users”;
- Ensuring that non-Safe Routes to School non-infrastructure projects are eligible; and
- Mandating the CTC to convene and engage an advisory work group to inform the development of the ATP guidelines and to ensure an open and transparent process.
However, since the bulk of the ATP funds come from the federal Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), the ATP must be structured to meet federal requirements—such as splitting the funding among state, regional, and small urban/rural competitions—as well as to adequately score and compare the range of projects eligible for ATP funding (for example, comparing a non-infrastructure senior pedestrian safety education campaign to the construction of a neighborhood greenway project). In developing the Program guidelines, the CTC must balance these competing demands. While difficult, we believe that our Coalition’s joint recommendations will help the CTC strike an appropriate balance. Cal WALKS also collaborated with PolicyLink, Safe Routes to School National Partnership, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN), TransForm, and others to outline how the CTC can ensure that the ATP lives up to its promise for disadvantaged communities: that our most vulnerable communities most in need of active transportation projects will benefit from the state’s increased investments in walking and biking.
Through December and January, the CTC will be convening smaller subgroups to further discuss the issues of 1) Non-infrastructure projects; 2) Planning requirements and funding; and 3) Application scoring criteria and weighting. Cal WALKS and our state partners will be participating in all three of these subgroups to inform the next iteration of the guidelines. The CTC anticipates hosting public hearings on the guidelines in January, submitting the revised guidelines to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee for review (as required by SB 99) by February 3, 2014, and ultimately, adopting the Program guidelines at the March 20, 2014 CTC meeting. Once the Program guidelines have been adopted, the CTC will immediately issue a call for projects for the statewide competitive portion of the program, while Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) will be developing their own guidelines for their regional share of ATP funds. While MPOs will have some flexibility and discretion in how they structure their regional programs, the state ATP guidelines will serve as the minimum requirements, and the CTC must approve any proposed change to the guidelines by an MPO.
What You Can Do
- Review the current preliminary draft ATP guidelines and our Coalition’s overall recommendations and equity-specific recommendations to identify issues you’d like modified or addressed—e-mail comments to Tony Dang or Jeanie Ward-Waller of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership;
- Send written comments on the draft guidelines or the subgroup topics directly to the Mitch Weiss, CTC Deputy Director with a hard copy addressed to Andre Boutros, Executive Director and James C. Ghielmetti, Chair of the Commission (1120 N Street, Room 2221 (MS-52) Sacramento, CA 95814);
- Attend and provide public comment at a CTC hearing on the ATP guidelines—currently scheduled for January 22 (Southern California) and January 29 (Northern California);
- Attend and provide public comment at the March 20, 2014 CTC meeting when the ATP guidelines are anticipated to be formally approved and adopted;
- Start working with your local agency to map out and plan project applications for the statewide competitive program; and
- Be prepared to work with your MPO to structure your regional ATP funds! Start conversations now with MPO staff to proactively shape what your regional ATP will look like.
Cal WALKS and our partners will continue to keep you updated on the guidelines development process, including when the next draft is released and details on the planned guidelines hearings.
More information and periodic updates from the CTC about the ATP can be found here.