Transportation Alternatives (TA) Set-Aside                            


STBG logoThe Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act was signed into law on Dec. 4, 2015. It is the first long-term transportation bill passed since SAFETEA-LU and will run through Fiscal Year 2020.  

The legislation converts the long-standing Surface Transportation Program (STP) into the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program (STBG), aligning the program’s name with how the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has historically administered it.

The STBG promotes flexibility in state and local transportation decisions and provides flexible funding to best address state and local transportation needs. 

Within the STBG funding is a set-aside amount called the Transportation Alternatives or “TA Set-Aside” as set forth in 23 U.S.C. 133(h).

These set-aside funds include all activities that were previously eligible under TAP (Transportation Alternatives Program per MAP-21), encompassing a variety of smaller-scale, non-traditional transportation projects.

The FAST Act will continue TA’s long history. The modern Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) began with – Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, also known as MAP-21 signed in July 2012.

The Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) redefined the former Transportation Enhancement (TE) Program and consolidated these eligibilities with several smaller federal-aid programs.    

Previously in SAFETEA-LU, there were 12 eligible Transportation Enhancement (TE) activities. Under MAP-21 and now with the FAST Act, there are four defined categories for the TA Set-Aside including:  1) Transportation Alternatives, 2) Safe Routes to School, 3) Recreational Trails and 4) Boulevards from Divided Highways.

Within the Transportation Alternatives category itself, there are 10 qualifying TA activities.

In addition to eliminating some previously eligible TE activities, MAP-21also made changes in how the federal funds were to be distributed. These changes will continue with the FAST Act. 

The legislation states that once funding is taken off the top for the Recreational Trails Program administered by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, the remaining TA Set-Aside funds will be split with a specified amount being distributed based on population and the rest available for distribution anywhere statewide.  

The FAST Act, like MAP-21, also provides that Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) in the four identified Transportation Management Areas (TMAs) will make project selections in their area. The “MPO and TMA Listing” is below.

Transportation Alternatives Program Information

Transportation Enhancement ProgramProgram Allocations

Transportation Enhancement (TE) Program                

The TE Program was replaced by the TAP with the passage of MAP-21 in June 2012, but the funding approved under prior legislation will continue to be guided by the prior Transportation Enhancement program guidelines.  

Existing TE projects that still qualify under the TAP eligibilities – sidewalks, trails, historic depots, etc. – can apply for TAP funding.  

For those existing projects that no longer qualify under TAP eligibilities – historic mills, transportation museums, historic / scenic driving tours, etc. – the only possibility of receiving additional funds from this program would be any de-allocated funds from cancelled or completed projects.  

These requests will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Program History

The Transportation Enhancement Program was created with the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991.  

With this act, Congress required each state to set aside 10 percent of its Surface Transportation Program funds for transportation enhancement projects.

This program offered broad opportunities and federal funding for creative projects that integrated transportation into our communities and environment.

The legislation designated 12 activities meant to improve non-motorized transportation, enhance the public’s traveling experience, revitalize communities and improve the quality of life.

This program continued with enactment of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) in 1998 and the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) in 2005.

SAFETEA-LU expired Sept. 30, 2009, and through a series of continuing resolutions, Congress extended the program funding through Sept. 30, 2012.

PDFs pdfs 

Transportation Enhancement Program Information

Project Sponsor Workshop Presentations

Program Allocations

Contact Us:

Pam Liston 804-786-2734
Virginia Department of Transportation
Local Assistance Division
1401 E. Broad St.
Richmond, Virginia 23219

Fax: 804-371-0847


Page last modified: June 21, 2018