5 Grant Sources for Your Traffic Safety Project
For municipalities, finding funding for larger traffic safety infrastructure projects can be a challenge, especially if resources are already stretched thin. State and federal grants are often an attainable source of funding. While some are competitive and have many requirements to meet, others may be easier in your region due to the size of your community or the type of project you are working on.
First, learn about the grant process to ensure you are prepared for this process.
When you’re ready to explore grants for traffic calming and traffic safety projects, the Federal Highway Administration is a great place to start. The Bicycle and Pedestrian Program has multiple funding options available. To talk to someone in person, each state has a DOT bicycle and pedestrian coordinator; the FHWA also has a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator in each state.
Below are five Bicycle and Pedestrian Program funding sources to consider for your project. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it could be a good place to start.
BUILD Grants (DOT)
The Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development, or BUILD Transportation Discretionary Grant program, is a Department of Transportation (DOT) program that allocates its funds in road, rail, transit, and port projects that promise to achieve national objectives. Formerly known as TIGER, it has awarded nearly $2.4 billion since 2009. Criteria includes safety, economic competitiveness, quality of life, environmental protection, and state of good repair. In 2018, $1.5 billion was allocated to 91 projects in 49 states and the District of Columbia. According to the DOT, these grants re-balance a 10-year underinvestment in rural communities—so this year, 62 of those 91 funded projects were rural.
For 2018, one rural grant of more than $9 million was awarded to the Geauga County Safety Improvement Project in northeast Ohio’s Geauga County, where about 20% of the population is Amish. In this rural area, flashing beacons, school zone signs, and pedestrian warning signs and beacons were added on roadways to address the safety threat between faster traveling motorized vehicles and slower traveling non-motorized buggies.
Meanwhile, an urban project in Jacksonville, Florida, received $25 million for a riverfront revitalization that includes construction of a Complete Street with traffic calming measures, bike/pedestrian paths, smart lighting, and more. Other projects in Maquoketa, Iowa, Youngstown, Ohio, and others also included crosswalks and other pedestrian infrastructure.
With those projects in mind, the DOT is clearly awarding BUILD Grants to projects with walkability and traffic calming in the plan.Read the full list and learn more about applying
Transportation Alternatives Program
Created in 2012, the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) merged three previous programs together. It is currently authorized through 2020. More than $800 million is available every year, and it is a primary source of funding for the Safe Routes to School programming mentioned below, as well as a source of funding for building active transportation infrastructure. Each state’s DOT is responsible for its own allocation of TAP funds; however, states can transfer up to half of their TAP dollars to other transportation programs. They may also let funds lapse if they don’t use them within a timely fashion, which reduces the dollars available for active transportation.
Hot tip: Looking to increase funding for active transportation? The Safe Routes to School Partnership has a fantastic report called Making Strides: 2018 State Report Cards on Support for Walking, Bicycling, and Active Kids and Communities. Like the title says, it outlines how states rank in terms of their support for walking, bicycling, and the formation of healthy, active communities. To find the lowest hanging fruit for improvements, check where your state ranked for different factors to get started. See the fact sheet on How to Use Your State’s Report Card.
All states have a Transportation Alternatives Program coordinator, who can help you with state-specific questions.Learn more about State Report Cards
Safe Routes to School
From 2005 to 2012, Safe Routes to School was a separate funding program with dedicated funds for projects within 2 miles of schools that encouraged and enabled children to walk or bike to school safely. However, today it is lumped under the TAP (see above).
The Safe Routes to School National Partnership helps municipalities find funding for school safety projects by connecting them with their state coordinators.
Each state has state-specific criteria and policies for funding Safe Routes to School programs and projects under the TAP. Find your state coordinator and review guidelines on your state’s website: links to each state are on the Safe Routes Partnership page.Find your state coordinator
Recreational Trails Program
The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) distributes funds to states for development and maintenance of recreational trails and similar facilities. This program was reauthorized in 2016 through 2020.
The RTP could be a great fit for your regional trail. Eligible projects include maintenance and restoration of existing rails, construction of new trails, assessment of trail conditions, and more.
As part of a larger project, the RTP provides funding for crosswalks—both new and retrofit—so it is perfect for funding your trail-highway intersection upgrades. Funding can also cover pedestrian and bicyclist scale lighting [link to Sol], if you’re looking for other ways to increase safety beyond traffic beacons. Each state administers its own program with its own funding levels. Find your Recreational Trails Program State Administrator and website for more details.Find your state here
Surface Transportation Block Grant Program
Formerly known as the Surface Transportation Program, the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program (STBG) is a flexible program that can be used for anything from bridge and tunnel improvements to transit projects to pedestrian and bicycle projects. Funding can go towards crosswalks, pedestrian plans, pedestrian/bicyclist-scale lighting, recreational trails, signs and signals, traffic calming, and more. However, projects must not include local roads or rural minor collector roads, with a few exceptions. Funding available for 2019 is more than $11 billion, and more than $12 billion in 2020.Learn more about STBG
This list includes only a few of the many state and federal grant options available for traffic safety, walkability, and traffic calming projects. If you are unable to get a grant or need additional funds, you may still be able to fund your project with a little local creativity. Learn about some out-of-the-box funding opportunities and see where you end up.
Explore other resources on our Traffic Safety Grants and Funding page.