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The way we design and build our neighborhoods and communities directly impacts our quality of life. For many years, the transportation community has focused on interstate systems and highways that offered efficient movement of goods and services, as well as unprecedented mobility benefits for the public. Growing concerns about air quality, open space, and traffic congestion led Congress to create several programs through legislation in the 1991 Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA). These programs broaden the federal focus on Transportation from building highways to funding projects tied to smarter planning requirements that help ensure communities are more livable. At the center of new focus about transportation, growth, and quality of life is the Transportation Enhancement Program.
With the passage of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), and it's successor, the Safe, Efficient, Flexible, Effective Transportation Equity Act: a Legacy for the User (SAFETEALU), Congress continues to reaffirm its commitment to the original concepts established under ISTEA. Like its predecessors, the new legislation continues to provide a catalyst for stimulating activities which go beyond traditional transportation projects.
SectionsProgram Administration Project Eligibility Sponsor Participation
Transportation Enhancement projects are funded through the Surface Transportation Program (STP) and administered for the U.S. Department of Transportation by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The Special Projects Branch of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation is responsible for development and administration of the Enhancement Program at the state level.
The State of Oklahoma anticipates receiving apportionments annually of 10% of the State's Federal STP funds for the Enhancement Program. The Oklahoma Transportation Commission will utilize a portion of the Transportation Enhancement fund for Enhancement Projects deemed to represent the interest of the traveling public in the State of Oklahoma.
The funds provided for under Oklahoma's Enhancement Program are on a cost reimbursement basis. The Transportation Enhancement Program is not a grant program. Projects approved for funding under the program are eligible for up to 80 % of allowable costs. These allowable costs may include the preparation of construction plans and specifications, environmental mitigation, acquisition of real property, construction, construction management, and interpretation of other activities that enhance the transportation experience. The nominating entity, or Sponsor, is responsible for the remaining cost share. All cost overruns are the responsibility of the Project Sponsor.
Cost incurred before Federal authorization are not reimbursable. Other ineligible costs are application preparation, and routine or maintenance operations.
What Is A Transportation Enhancement Activity?
A Transportation Enhancement activity can represent a stand-alone project, or be implemented as part of an ongoing Transportation project. As a requirement, all projects must be related to the Intermodal Transportation System. The required relationship must be one of function, proximity, or impact. For example, an independent bike path is a 2 functional part of the Intermodal Transportation System. The removal of outdoor advertising within sight of a highway is justified because of its proximity. Retrofitting an existing highway by creating a wetland to filter highway runoff would qualify based on the impact of water pollution from the highway. In the case of alternative transportation enhancements such as railroad depot restoration, or trail development, it is not necessary for the project to lie within or be adjacent to the highway right-of-way. Federal guidelines also provide that environmental analysis, planning, design, land acquisition and construction activities necessary for implementing a qualifying transportation enhancement project are eligible for funding
The Transportation Enhancement program is unique in its focus on non-traditional transportation projects. Project eligibility refers to the requirements that a project must meet in order to be considered for funding. Eligibility criteria is different from Selection Criteria. For project selection criteria, see pages 12-13. To be considered for funding, all projects must:
All applications will be acknowledged and applicants will be advised of their application's status. Applications determined to be eligible will be distributed to the Transportation Enhancement Advisory Committee (TEAC) for evaluation. The TEAC will review and analyze candidate projects, then forward their recommendations to the Oklahoma Transportation Commission for funding consideration.
The financing of Transportation Enhancement Projects will follow the normal procedures that have been adopted for all Federal Highway projects by the FHWA and ODOT. These procedures include, but are not limited to, securing project authorization, consummating a project agreement, and submitting the necessary documents for finalization of projects.
Federal Funds are not available as reimbursement for any work, project advertising, or purchases performed prior to project authorization by the FHWA. Preparation of the project application is not a reimbursable expense.
Federal funds available under the Enhancement Program may be used for a maximum of eighty percent (80%) of the eligible project costs. Successful applicants must agree to provide a minimum of twenty percent (20%) of the total project cost. Any sponsor match above the minimum 20%, must be calculated in whole percentage increments.
Project sponsors can propose to provide any work and/or materials beyond the scope of the project proposal as a project cost reduction measure. These activities will not be eligible for matching funding, but will be given additional consideration during the application review and selection process. An example of a cost reduction measure would be expressing willingness to provide the environmental assessment, plans, specifications, and estimates necessary to begin project construction at the project sponsor’s expense. This action would thereby remove the expense from the project proposal’s total estimated cost and reduce the required sponsor and federal funding.
Although no minimum project funding amount is set, applicants are discouraged from submitting small requests as project administration expenses may not justify approving the proposal.
Innovative Financing Options
With the exception of donated property, in-kind services are no longer eligible for the Sponsor match portion of the project funding. In-kind services may be used to reduce the overall project cost but may not be used as part of the Sponsor match for the project.
While the maximum project request may not exceed the amount available during any given award cycle, it is recommended that each proposal application not exceed six hundred thousand dollars ($600,000) in MPO areas and four hundred thousand dollars ($400,000) elsewhere in the state. Any proposal requesting more than $600,000 in the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) areas or $400,000 in other areas must contain extensive justification indicating extenuating circumstances and unusual project merit.
All project design components and cost estimates must conform to applicable design standards for the type of improvement requested (AASHTO, ODOT, applicable building codes, The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards Rehabilitation of Historic Buildings, etc)
Project Maintenance Obligations
Each applicant must maintain the safety and aesthetics of the project. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation retains the right to remove a project that is not maintained if it is located on state right-of-way. Projects involving landscaping on ODOT right-of-way will be the responsibility of the project sponsor. This responsibility will include, but is not limited to all conditions set forth in the construction contract pertaining to planting warranties, vigor of plant material, genus and species, etc., and all future maintenance as specified in the project agreement. Early coordination (prior to submittal) with the appropriate ODOT Field Division office is necessary when the proposed project occurs on ODOT right-of-way.