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Did You Know?

Public transit users take 30 percent more steps and spend roughly eight more minutes walking each day than drivers.

Two key funding sources for projects in your community

The walking and biking boom during the pandemic has accelerated community interest in funding bike and pedestrian projects.

For decades, these types of projects have proven to make our streets safer for all users while boosting community health, equity, and sustainability. Yet, finding funding can be surprisingly difficult, especially for low-income, rural, and Black and Brown communities.

Fortunately, new funding opportunities have recently emerged thanks to advocacy from Active Trans and our partners across the state. Both the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) and Surface Transportation Program (STP) Shared Fund have been recently improved and expanded to help communities build safe walking and biking networks.

Here’s a quick summary of how each program can help your community fund walking and biking projects. (This PDF offers a more in depth discussion of both of these funding options and check out this list of many other funding opportunities as well as the opportunities listed at the end of this blog post.)

ILLINOIS TRANSPORTATION ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM (ITEP)

For the first time ever, in 2019 the Illinois capital plan included dedicated funding for walking and biking projects: $50 million per year. This came about through a lot of hard work and community support.

Leading up to the bill’s passage, Active Trans led a statewide campaign for the new funding and supporters like you generated more than 3,400 phone calls, emails, and tweets to legislators about the bill. This new state funding is being distributed through an expanded ITEP program, which was previously solely federally funded.

Projects eligible for ITEP funding include sidewalk building and replacement, pedestrian crossings, bike lanes, side paths, and trails that provide a transportation option for people walking or biking.

A 20 percent local match will be required for most communities, but in some cases, depending on need, the local match will be reduced to 10 percent or the local match may be eliminated. Active Trans and our partners made equity a leading component of our advocacy surrounding the bill.

Start preparing early for the next round of funding, which begins in 2022. Recordings from informational webinars about applying for ITEP and responses to frequently asked questions are available here.

SURFACE TRANSPORTATION PROGRAM (STP) SHARED FUND

The STP Shared Fund was originally established in 2018 to target federal funds at transportation projects that are of “regional significance.” Unfortunately, walking and biking projects were specifically excluded from the initial cycle in 2019.

Active Trans, Metropolitan Planning Council, and others immediately objected to this exclusion. After two years of conversations and comments, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), which administers the funding, announced last year that stand-alone pedestrian and bicycle projects would be eligible in the 2021 cycle.

Eligible project types include pedestrian/bicycle barrier elimination, bridge or road reconstruction, bus speed and transit station improvements, among others. This could include a bicycle/pedestrian overpass or underpass, a new multi-use trail, or bike and pedestrian upgrades around transit stations.

CMAP is hosting two informational webinars about the upcoming STP funding cycle and other upcoming federal funding programs in January. CMAP Planning Liaisons are available to review applications between now and February 19 and applications are due March 5, 2021.

OTHER FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR WALKING AND BIKING

  • CMAQ (Congestion Mitigation & Air Quality): $115 million available for projects to reduce transportation-related emissions. Application deadline is March 5, 2021.
  • TAP (Transportation Alternatives Program): $9 million available for bicycle projects in the Chicagoland region. Application deadline is March 5, 2021.
  • RTA’s Access to Transit Grant: Funding available to help improve access to rail and bus stations. The call for proposals is expected to open the second week of January.
  • Invest in Cook (for Cook County only): $8.5 million available for transportation projects every year. This grant typically opens in January.
  • People for Bikes Community Grant (for city/county agencies or non-profits): Grants of up to $10,000 awarded, can be helpful for meeting local match requirements for other grants. Letters of interest are due January 22, 2021.
  • Openlands ComEd Green Region Program: Grants of up to $10,000 to support open space projects, including trails, will open on January 22, 2021.