Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) Resources

In 2020 the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) provided $105.6 million in state and federal funding for walking, biking, and trail projects around the state. The call for projects was open from August 21 to November 2, 2020 and awards are expected to be announced in the Spring of 2021. 

Through the Illinois State Physical Activity and Nutrition Program and funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Active Transportation Alliance and Illinois Public Health Institute are partnering to help build the capacity of communities to successfully apply for ITEP funds.

Below are resources, informational webinars (recordings and registration links), and answers to frequently asked questions about the grant program. Start preparing now for the next round of funding, which begins in 2022.

 

ITEP Webinar Series

  • Webinar Part 1: Intro to ITEP and Funding Eligibility Criteria
  • Webinar Part 2: ITEP Application Walk-Through and Project Scoring
  • Webinar Part 3: Successful Project Implementation and Final Guidance/Q&A on Project Proposals
    • Webinar Part 3 recording (NOTE: The live Q&A was removed from this recording to avoid confusion over the ITEP application process. All responses to questions from this webinar are listed below in the FAQ)
    • Webinar Part 3 Slides
    • See below for our FAQ from the third webinar


ITEP Resources

 

ITEP Cycle 14 – Frequently Asked Questions

The questions below were asked during our webinar series and responses are grouped by webinar into the following categories. To easily find what you’re looking for, we recommend searching this page (Control+F) for keywords relevant to your question.

Webinar 3 FAQ: Signatures, Government Resolutions, ITEP & Submittal Numbers, GATA, Submitting your Application & Supplement Documents, Reimbursements, Cost Estimates & Local Matches, Other

Webinar 2 FAQ: Reimbursement for pre-work, Land Acquisition, Cost Estimates, Local Match, Community Score, Application Supporting Documents, GATA, Other/Project Eligibility.

Webinar 1 FAQ: Grant Schedule, Application Support, Engineering, Reimbursement, Local Match, GATA, Project Eligibility (General, Detailed), Scoring & Community Mapping Tool, Past Funding.

 

Acronyms

  • ADA – American Disabilities Act
  • BDE – Bureau of Design and Environment
  • BLR – Bureau of Local Roads
  • COG – Council of Government
  • FHWA – Federal Highway Administration
  • IDOT – Illinois Department of Transportation
  • IDNR – Illinois Department of Natural Resources
  • ITEP – Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program
  • MPO – Metropolitan Planning Organization
  • MUTCD – Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices
  • NACTO – National Association of City Transportation Officials
  • NEPA – National Environmental Policy Act
  • SRTS – Safe Routes to Schools
  • QBS – Quality Based Selection
  • RPC – Regional Planning Commission
  • TIP – Transportation Improvement Program

 

WEBINAR 3 FAQ

Signatures

Q: Are any ‘wet’ signatures required on the application or are scanned signatures okay? Who should sign the application?

A: A ‘wet’ or ‘original ink’ signature is NOT required for the online or hard copy ITEP application or for supplemental attachments. The Government Resolution and the Letter of Assurance pages, however, each need the handwritten signature of a government official (mayor, village president, director of finance, etc.). Once these two documents have been signed, you can submit a scanned copy of each when you mail in a hard copy of your application and when you attach to your online application. Electronic signatures are acceptable on all other documents requiring signature.

Q: Who should ‘sign’ the BoBs (conflict of interest) 2831 form?

A: The person representing the project sponsor such as the village manager or mayor should type their name at the end of the form under ‘Approver Name’. No wet or scanned signature is required here.

Q: Are any ‘wet’ signatures required for GATA?

A: Electronic or digital signatures are accepted.

 

Government Resolutions

Q: Can an addendum with city council/village board resolution be submitted after the deadline? The village board was supposed to approve the resolution last night, but the meeting was canceled because a majority of board members were sick.

A: When you submit your ITEP application, submit a draft government resolution with it (both your online and hard copy submissions) and state the reason why the final resolution could not be submitted with your application. Explain when the final resolution will be provided to IDOT.

In order to be considered for funding, your final, approved government resolution will need to be submitted to IDOT as soon as possible. When it is ready, a scanned copy of the signed government resolution can be submitted.

Q: We had resolutions of financial support for our project from a couple years ago. Can we use these with the current application?

A: No, IDOT wants a current, up-to-date government resolution submitted with your application.

Q: If our proposed project is a continuation of a larger scale project that the Board approved and understood that it had to be broken out in several projects, is a revised resolution required for each project?

A: Yes, an updated resolution is required for your ITEP application. 

Q: If 3 communities are filing a joint application, with one municipality the lead agency/applicant, will an Intergovernmental agreement (IGA) executed by all 3 municipalities suffice as the Resolution?

A: No, IDOT needs a Government Resolution from the sponsor agency committing to all local funding required to complete the project. The commitment needs to come from the lead sponsor only about committing to the entire match. Only one agency will be held fully responsible.

Q: Does the local match commitment need to be documented somewhere?

A: Include these details in your government resolution. Example government resolution language: “The municipality will pay up to xx% of the total project cost, as determined by IDOT.” Or something more general such as “The municipality is applying for a grant under the terms and conditions of the State of Illinois and shall enter into and agree to the understandings and assurances contained in said application.” The local match commitment will generally not exceed 20% for any project. See the FAQ from the first webinar (under Local Match) for more details.

In the application, you will also need to indicate via two check boxes at the bottom of the Project Cost sheet whether you want to proceed with the project if you do not receive a 20% state match or a 10% state match.

Q: Is there a template or example of an appropriate government resolution?

A: Yes, please see this example of a Government Resolution for your ITEP project.

 

ITEP & Submittal Numbers

Q: Is the ITEP submittal number required on every page of the hard copy submittal or just on a cover sheet?

A: No, but you should add your ITEP number to each attachment/supplemental document and make sure it is listed on the application number field of your hard copy.

First, finalize and submit your ITEP application online. A 6-digit ITEP number will be generated after you submit your online application and will be placed in the application number field. After you print your hard copy, double check that the number is listed there. Your ITEP number is not required to be on each page of your application, but you can feel free to add it.

Q: Does your ITEP submittal number need to be on each attachment in the hard copy i.e. resolution, photos, maps?

A: While it is not required, we recommend adding this number to each of your documents to ensure nothing gets lost.

Q: What are the NOFO, Agency Funding Opportunity, CSFA, and CFDA numbers?

A:

  • NOFO number is 1000-1627
  • Agency Funding Opportunity number is 21-1000-01
  • CSFA is 494-00-1000
  • CFDA is 20.205

Q: What is the agreement number for the BoBs disclosure form?

A: The agreement number should be left blank. IDOT will fill it in if your project is awarded funds.

 

GATA

Q: On the GATA form, it asks for the state requested amount. Should that be left as $0 since the state match is determined by the community map score?

A: In the GATA forms, ‘State Funds’ refers to the amount of grant funds being requested (either federal and/or state). ‘Non-State Funds’ refers to the local match required, regardless of the source (local funds, MFT, Federal Flex, private/personal, donations, state funds). So for projects that fit into the 80/20 match distribution, for example, you should include 80% of the project costs under ‘State Funds’ and 20% of the project costs under ‘Non-State Funds’.

Q: What fiscal year should you use in the GATA form?

A: Use GATA’s 2020 form with the fiscal year date starting July 1, 2020.

Q: What wet signatures are required for GATA?

A: Electronic signatures are accepted.

Q: Can you explain what the GATA Registration Number is that is required in the online application? Is that the same as the GATA ID #?

A: Yes, it is. This GATA number is generated when you register for the ITEP program.

Q: Can the Budget Template be provided by IDOT in a Word Document for ease of completion?

A: If this is referring to the GATA budget form, you will need to check with the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget at GATA@isbe.net or 217-782-5630.

If this question refers to the detailed cost estimate required in the ITEP application, please reach out to IDOT at DOT.ITEP@illinois.gov.

 

Submitting your Application & Supporting Documents

Q: How and when can you print the hard copy of the online application?

A: First, finalize and submit your online application. After you submit online, you can print a hard copy of your online submission. Make sure that a 6-digit ITEP application number was generated after you submitted your application online and that it appears on the hard copy of your proposal.

Q: Do printed copies of the grant have to be punched and placed in a binder or can they be loose?

A: Either is okay.

Q: Where should I mail my ITEP application?

A: All project applications and related materials are to be mailed to IDOT at the following address:

Illinois Department of Transportation
Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program
Room 307
2300 South Dirksen Parkway
Springfield, Illinois 62764

Q: Is a consultant allowed to submit an application for a sponsor or does it have to come from the project sponsor? As a consultant we planned to compile and mail everything from our office for the sponsor.

A: Yes, the consultant can submit and mail an ITEP application on behalf of their client. Make sure to include the appropriate scanned signatures in the mail-in application described in the beginning of this FAQ.

Q: How do you submit photos with your online application?

A: The ITEP system has a maximum allowance of 35MB for attachments. This may mean you need to reduce the size or resolution of your photos. If you have multiple photos, one trick shared by webinar attendees is to add the photos to a PowerPoint or Publisher document (to include captions as well if you’d like) and then convert the file to a PDF. If you’re attaching a high-resolution map (e.g., not the community scoring map), export it to a jpeg then follow the steps above to reduce their file size.

Q: How do you know if your files have been successfully uploaded to the online application portal?

A: Unfortunately, there is currently no way to easily see if your files have been uploaded. If you are concerned about your files, you can reach out to DOT.ITEP@illinois.gov and they can verify what has been submitted.

Q: What if we are still waiting to receive letter of support (LOS) from various groups?

A: We recommend sending reminders and checking back in with the groups you are waiting on. If you haven’t already, provide a LOS template to these groups. The template should outline what your project is and the benefits it would provide the community or region.

If you received a letter of support AFTER you submitted your ITEP application, you can email the letter to DOT.ITEP@illinois.gov with your unique 6-digit ITEP number.

Q: What maps need to be submitted with my application?

A: You should submit two maps – the My Community Map and a Project Location Map. The Project Local Map should be added as an attachment – it should be a colored location map showing the limits of the project as well as any other information you feel will aid IDOT in identifying your project.

Q: Is it possible to modify the community scoring map once an application has been started? The proposed project limits have changed slightly and I would like to update the community scoring map without redoing the entire application, if possible.

A: Yes, go back to ‘My Community Score’ within the ITEP application portal and click ‘New Community Map Score’. You can draw a new map and save it under a new name. Within the ‘General Information’ section of the application, select your new map name under the ‘Community Score’ dropdown and be sure to save your changes.

Q: ITEP provides an “Example Application form OPP-2245” on the program website. Do we have liberty to make visual and aesthetic changes and include graphics in the application form? Also, is there a page maximum?

A: Unfortunately, you cannot change the online form. There are character limits for the project description sections of the application which will limit the total number of pages you can submit. What you submit online should be identical to the hard copy you submit.

Q: Is it okay to add a cover page in the hard copy with the additional online document?

A: Yes, this is fine, but it is not required.

 

Reimbursements

Q: By reimbursable, does that mean the city must be able to front 100% of the project cost, and then request reimbursement for all but the local match?

A: Yes, with one exception described below. The project sponsor is responsible for paying for preliminary engineering, land acquisition, and utility relocation costs up-front. The project costs are then reimbursed by IDOT in accordance with a joint funding agreement. 

For construction, either IDOT or the project sponsor can pay for construction costs. By selecting to have IDOT do construction letting (which is often preferred), IDOT would pay for up-front construction costs.  If the project sponsor opts to pay for construction costs, the sponsor is responsible for paying up front and will be reimbursed by IDOT in accordance with a joint funding agreement.

IDOT will reimburse you along the way as you submit paperwork that documents implementation. IDOT requires that the project sponsor bills them at least once every 6 months. Reimbursements are typically processed either once a month or twice a month depending on the size of the project.

Q: Are administration expenses for the application process or grant management reimbursable?

A: No, these expenses are not reimbursable.

  

Cost Estimates & Local Matches

Q: How do you include contingencies and inflation in your cost estimates?

A: Contingencies and inflation should NOT be listed as a separate line item in your cost estimates. Instead, you should roll inflation and contingency costs into the individual unit costs or items listed in your cost estimate.

Q: What if we have applied for other grant funding for a project that includes part of our ITEP project proposal or is otherwise overlapping, but is not the exact same scope?

A: Mention this in your application. For the overlapping area, make sure the other funding is something that IDOT allows as matching funds (see the ITEP Guidelines, Section D, pages 25-26).

Q: If lighting is justified and used for nighttime transportation purposes to a transit station, what is the required local match – 50/50 or 80/20?

A: See page 16 of the ITEP Guidelines for details about lighting. Street lighting and pedestrian lighting have different reimbursable rates:

  • Street lighting, federally reimbursable at 50%, is defined as lighting for the street and must be co-located with an alternate transportation facility. Ornamental lighting would be eligible in this category.
  • Pedestrian lighting, federally reimbursable at 80%, is defined as lighting for an alternate transportation facility and must not be co-located with a street.

Q: Should the federal share and local match be 80/20 in the detailed cost estimate even if this would result in an amount larger than the $2 million ITEP cap?

A: ITEP project funding is capped at $2 million per proposal. For projects that cost more than $2M, you could either find other funding sources or applying for ITEP funding over multiple cycles.

In general, you should assume a 20% local match in your cost estimates. If you end up qualifying for a 0% or 10% local match, your cost estimate will be adjusted later.

Q: If Federal Flexible Match funds are used, are these funds always applied to the ITEP local match at an 80% rate even if the source of those FFM funds were state grant funds used at a 100% rate (no match required)?

A: See the ITEP Guidelines, Section D and Appendix 6 for details about the Federal Flexible Match funds including an example on page 61. As noted in Section D, the FFM must be applied for and approved by IDOT and FHWA. The FFM is applied for and approved after a project has been selected.

If any further information is needed, reach out to the ITEP liaison in your local IDOT district office.

Q: Should already expended monies for engineering be included in the application anywhere?

A: This is useful information to include within the project description section of the ITEP application to show additional commitment of the local agency to the project.

These amounts should not be included in the cost estimate. Previously expended funds for engineering or any other item(s) that are part of the project should be mentioned in the narrative only. These costs cannot be used as local match as they were expended before the project was awarded.

 

Other

Q: If the PE I work was funded by the municipality itself (no federal funds used), and therefore no Project Development Report (PDR) was prepared, do we just leave this answer blank or write N/A?

A: Questions regarding documentation of PE completion should be directed to the applicant’s appropriate IDOT district local roads office. Additional items may be needed for PE I since ITEP is a federally funded program.

Q: Can you describe what is expected in the question seeking the predicted usage of the facility?

A: Do your best to determine if there is any available data on bicycle/pedestrian usuage. If not, you can approximate usage based on the community population around the project location. Here are a few ideas:

  • Check if any group or agency (e.g. forest preserve, park district, municipality) has done counts of people walking or biking on nearby bike/ped/trail networks.
  • Are there any transit stations the project would connect to? What are the ridership numbers at that station?
  • Check Strava’s Heat Map to see if cyclists and/or runners are using the route: https://www.strava.com/heatmap#7.00/-120.90000/38.36000/hot/all
  • What percentage of community members don’t have access to a car or don’t drive (youth, older adults)? Check American Community Survey data.
  • Use proximate resident or employment numbers within X miles of the proposed facility: “Up to XX,XXX village residents live within a 1-mile walkshed of the proposed facility, with another XX,XXX living within a 2-mile bikeshed.”

Q: We own the parcels that we will improve with ITEP funds. We have coordinated with the local city owned (DOT managed) sidewalks–do we need proof of easement at the time of application?

A: No, note in your application that you own the parcels. It may also help to get a letter of support from the city that expresses their support of the project.

Q: Will there be another ITEP cycle in two years?

A: Yes, IDOT intends to have another ITEP cycle in 2022.

Q: Can you apply for ITEP funding if you already have STP funding for the project since ITEP covers more phases? We would give back the STP if we won the ITEP funding.

A: Check with your MPO about what would be involved in giving back STP money.

Q: Our project will connect with a large $57 million approved IDOT expansion project with a timeline we have no control over. Would it be desirable or possible to start our project if funded and simply connect the final access points to the new road construction when it is finally done by IDOT? We hear construction in 2-3 years but there may be unavoidable pandemic delays.

A: This should be fine, but check in with your district’s local road liaison.

Q: Our agency typically holds annual public meetings for all Capital Improvement Projects (CIPs), rather than for individual meetings. Will this “all CIP public meeting suffice for the public meeting requirement?

A: Yes, that should suffice.

Q: Is stating “There will be night use” sufficient justification for lighting?

A: No, pedestrian or bicycle lighting must be justified to show people are using the space at night for transportation. Justification could include providing details about a nearby transit station or bus stop that runs at night, details about local employers that have night shifts or local schools with evening events, the prevalence of pedestrian and/or bicycle crashes in the after dark, or existing safety issues.

 

WEBINAR 2 FAQ

Reimbursement for pre-work

Q: Will IDOT reimburse for costs related to preparation of Phase I engineering?

A: No, project work done prior to federal authorization of funds cannot be reimbursed.

 

Land Acquisition

Q: What rules does land acquisition need to follow? Can land acquisition happen prior to being awarded funding?

A: The ITEP Guidelines state the following: “When a project requires the acquisition of private property or a real estate interest in order to be completed, the sponsor must adhere to the IDOT’s Land Acquisition Manual. For more information, on the requirements, please contact the District Land Acquisition Engineer through the IDOT District Enhancement Coordinator for your area (Appendix 2).” Appendix 2 of the guidelines includes more details on these requirements.

Q: If land acquisition is included in a project in a very high need community, is it possible that ITEP will pay all of the local match?

A: The ITEP grant will provide up to 50 percent reimbursement for right-of-way and easement acquisition costs. If a community is considered high-need based on its ITEP Community Score, the project sponsor will only need to pay either 10% or 0% in local match for land acquisition.

Q: Can a project be considered if it is dependent on an easement from an overhead utility provider that has not yet been finalized but is in process?

A: Yes. The utility provider needs to be made aware of the possibility of the project.  Make sure to document the initial contact and any progress that has been made in your application

Q: Can a project be considered if it will be located on leased land?

A: Yes, however a lease must have at least a 20-year term or longer to ensure that the minimum useful service life of the project is met.

Q: If a portion of the land needed for the project must be donated because of ethics rules, can that donation be counted toward the local match?

A: If land was donated before applying for ITEP, this cannot be counted towards your local match. The ITEP Guidelines state: “Right-of-way donations from a third party can be credited toward the sponsor share (match) of the construction of a project. Donations must be from a private owner to the project sponsor for the purpose of the enhancement project. Donations must occur after the project report (discussed in Sections N & O) is approved for enhancement funding and prior to having the construction advertised on a letting. Land acquired previously or that is already owned by the project sponsor cannot be used as a donation credit.”

Q: Are there restrictions of type of right-of-way (ROW) and whether it is local/county/state controlled?

A: No restrictions, but if the required ROW is not under the jurisdiction of the applicant, a letter of understanding or similar documentation should be obtained from the other agency to ensure the project can be constructed should the application be selected.

 

Cost Estimates

Q: Should our cost estimates include a 20% local match even though we won’t know our match amount until after awards have been announced?

A: Yes, correct, assume a 20% local match in your cost estimates. If you end up qualifying for a 0% or 10% local match, your cost estimate will be adjusted later.

Q: The cost estimate example in the ITEP Guidelines has a column for “federal share”, but isn’t some of the federal share (80%) also from the state now? What should be included here?

A: The column is referring the costs eligible for federal reimbursement and that remains at 80% (or 50% for ROW and street lighting). All agreements should be written to assume we are seeking federal reimbursement for eligible costs.

Q: Does the cost estimate need to include all phases of a project if you are only applying for Phase I or II Engineering?

A: Only include the phases you are applying for in the cost estimates. To help show the magnitude of the project, however, it would be useful to include a description of the entire project in the application under Project Description.

Q: If Phase I Engineering is complete and paid for by the local agency, does it need to be added to the cost estimate?

A: It does not have to be included, but it is useful information that shows additional commitment of the local agency to the project. This information should be mentioned in the application write-up.

Q: Regarding the cost estimate example, the application says “IDOT will not accept this form as a submission for the ITEP program!” Is it okay to use the application sample once it is filled out or is there another form that needs to be used?

A: The sample is intended just as an example of the form you will see in the online application. Use the format of the sample application to create your summary table cost estimate and enter the information into the form in the online application.

Q: Can rolling the contingency into the unit price cause the cost estimate to be considered inaccurate?

A: You can roll inflation and contingency costs into the individual unit costs on the estimate, but contingencies should not be listed as a separate line item.

 

Local Match

Q: Since private universities are not eligible applicants, can they contribute toward the local match for an eligible sponsor? If so, how should that be detailed in the application (cost estimate, resolution, agreements)?

A: Yes, this would be considered a private donation. Since this would be a separate arrangement, it should be included in the local’s share and can be noted on the application.

 

Community Score

Q: Is median income determined by median household income or median income by employee?

A: Median Household Income

Q: Based on which Census 2010 or 2020?

A: 2010 Census Data

Q: Is the community size the total population of the census tracts within 1/2 mile of project (as opposed to the total population of the municipality)?

A: Yes, it is the sum of the population identified by census tracts within a 0.5 mile buffer around the project limits.

Q: Does the score take into consideration data from external sets like Strava to focus on number of cyclists on a route?

A: No, but this data could also be included in the application to show usage, interest and need for a facility.

Q: Is there any way that a project can account for visitors to the project area for the community calculation? We are a very small community that has a state park with a reported 450,000 annual visitors.

A: This information will not be factored into your Community Map Score, however, you should make note of this in the application to show that a facility here would impact a large number of people.

Application Supporting Documents

Q: How do we write a government resolution when the city is hoping for the state to pay the full match?

The language in your resolution should match the level of match commitment expressed in the application. If a community is not able or willing to commit to pay a 20% match if IDOT determines that the full match is appropriate, some suggested language for this scenario could include: “The municipality will pay up to xx% of the total project cost, as determined by IDOT.”

Q: Do we need certified minutes for the public meetings, or can we just use documentation at the time of the event?

A: If this is in regard to public support then no, certified minutes are not required.

If this is talking about once a project is in PE I, then the project sponsor should discuss with their district BLRS field engineer and follow the public involvement guidance in the BLRS manual.

Q: Is there a link to crash data that can be shared?

A: Reach out to your County DOT or your local IDOT district to obtain this information.

Q: Does a three-ring binder with removable pages count as “unbound.”

A: Yes, that works.

Q: Can Google Maps’ Street View be used to take photographs of the area?

A: Yes – check the date to make sure the photo is showing current conditions.

Q: To whom should letters of support be addressed?

A: Illinois Department of Transportation ITEP Program

You will want to collect each letter of support (LOS) and turn them in with your application as attachments. It is helpful to create a LOS template that you can provide to stakeholders which they can then edit and send back to you. Include the follow address at the top of the LOS template:

Illinois Department of Transportation
Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program
2300 South Dirksen Parkway, Room 307
Springfield, Illinois 62764

 

GATA

Q: The on-line ITEP application asks us to submit GATA Registration Number – where do we find that # as we complete an application?

A: This is available on the GATA Portal.

 

Other/Project Eligibility

Q: Are streetscapes to improve downtown pedestrian lighting and ADA compliance allowed as a project type?

A: These project elements could be included as either a pedestrian facility project (category 1) or a streetscaping project (category 2). The applicant should review the elements of their proposed project and the criteria for the categories and determine which category covers the majority of their project.

Q: How do you decide if your project in a bike/ped project or a streetscaping project?

A: The applicant should review the elements of their proposed project and the criteria for the categories and determine which category covers the majority of their project.

Q: Can a municipality submit multiple applications?

A: Yes

Q: Is replacing a pedestrian bridge eligible or considered maintenance?

A: This project would be eligible. Replacement of a deficient structure is considered construction rather than maintenance and therefore would be eligible.

Q: Is the $2 million funding level the project maximum or can project be over this amount if the local community will pay the difference?

A: Yes – project funding is capped at $2M per proposal. For projects that cost more than $2M, you could either find other funding sources or applying for ITEP funding over multiple cycles. In your cost estimates, you can include the full cost of the project – if selected, your project would be capped at $2 million.

Q: May a municipality apply on their own behalf or must the regions RPC/MPO apply for them?

A: A city should apply on their own behalf. An MPO/RPC is not allowed to apply as the sponsor lead.

Q: Is this link open? https://apps.dot.illinois.gov/ITEP/login.aspx

A: Yes

Q: What type of stormwater management projects are eligible for funding?

A: Check the ITEP Guidelines – this falls under category 7, but this FAQ is focused on walking, biking, and trails projects.

Q: Could an application request that an award is solely made up of state funding? Large projects may want to pursue additional grants from federal sources. Curious if ITEP could be used as match in such a case.

A: No, this will not be possible.

 

WEBINAR 1 FAQ

Grant Schedule & Total Funding

Q: With a call for ITEP this fall, what is the schedule for awarding funds?

A: The call for proposals will be open from August 21 to November 2, 2020. Every project that receives ITEP funds will receive an award notification letter within a few days of the funding announcement, expected in the spring of 2021.

Q: How long do we have to complete the project?

A: If you are awarded funds, your notification letter will contain specific deadlines for each respective project based on phases of work approved. Sponsors are given a 4-year time period to complete their project. If any deadline cannot be met, funds may be rescinded, and the project will be considered dropped unless an extension is requested and approved. See the Sunset Clause in Section J, page 36 of the ITEP Guidelines for more details.

Q: How much state and federal funding is available through ITEP?

A: Total funding available through ITEP is $105.6 million – this includes $30.6M in federal funding and $75M in state funding. State funding dollars can only be applied to walking, biking, and trail projects (Categories 1 and 3 in the ITEP Guidelines, see Section C, page 10).

 

Application Support 

Q: Can I put together my own cost estimate for the application?

A: Putting together an accurate cost estimate and project plan for your application is very important and affects your application score. Applicants should use an engineer or engineering firm for this step to ensure the work is feasible and meets IDOT and FHWA criteria for grades, widths, ADA, etc.

IDOT has said successful applications have good cost estimates. For projects that win funding, this additionally helps the sponsor avoid issues, unexpected cost increases and delays once the project begins.

Q: Can state or county agencies help high-need communities with application support such as cost estimates or other technical assistance? 

A: Possibly – it varies by region. Reach out to your MPO, RPC or DOT and ask what kind of guidance or support they can offer. For Chicagoland applicants, contact your local council planning liaison. For contact information, see Appendix 2-5 of the 2019 ITEP Guidelines, pages 50-56.

Q: Are consultants able to help on a pro-bono basis?

A: Yes, you are permitted to use pro-bono services for grant and proposal support (e.g. cost estimates, develop the project scope). However, you cannot count these services as an in-kind donation towards the grant’s local match requirement.

Important Note: Providing free application support does NOT guarantee a firm will be selected for paid work. It also does NOT mean that the project sponsor can skip the Quality Based Selection (QBS) process. Because ITEP uses federal funding, QBS must be followed for any services that will ultimately be granted funds by the ITEP award.

Q: What support can the Active Transportation Alliance provide? 

A: Active Trans will be hosting a total of three webinars to provide additional support to help you produce a strong application. In general, MPO/RPC planning liaisons/staff and engineering firms are your best source for additional technical assistance on applications.

Q: How many hours of work is typically needed to complete an ITEP application?

A:  Based on feedback from prior applicants, we estimate that around 40 hours of work is needed for a typical proposal.

 

Engineering  

Q: What requirements do engineering consultants need to meet to work on an ITEP funded project? 

A:  Because ITEP includes federal funds, Quality Based Selection (QBS) of the consultant engineer firm is needed if any of the firm’s work will be supported by grant funds. Federal QBS requirements do not apply if a community or agency is paying for engineering on their own without ITEP funding, However, in this case, the agency must comply with state laws and requirements when selecting a firm.

See Chapter 5 of the Local Streets and Roads Manual for more details about IDOT’s QBS procedures. Building architects and consultant engineers for local-sponsored projects are not required to be pre-qualified by IDOT. If local agencies have their own pre-qualification requirements, engineering firms should follow them.

Q: Has IDOT updated any of its design requirements? 

A: In 2019, IDOT updated Chapter 17 of the BDE Manual’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodations chapter. The bicycle facilities selection table (17-2a) now shows protected and buffered bike lanes as facility options. There is also discussion of flexible guidance and allowing for engineering judgment to determine the most appropriate facility if the parameters in the table are not possible.

If a community or agency would like to propose a facility that is included in NACTO or another well-respected design guide, IDOT recommends getting in touch with the ITEP coordinator from your IDOT District’s Local Roads staff prior to submitting an application. IDOT needs to ensure the design is fully compliant with the MUTCD to utilize federal funding for the project. See Appendix 2, page 50, of the ITEP Guidelines for IDOT contact information.

 

Reimbursement 

Q: What costs does a community need to pay up-front?

A: The project sponsor is responsible for paying for preliminary engineering, land acquisition, and utility relocation costs up-front. The project costs are then reimbursed by IDOT in accordance with a joint funding agreement. 

For construction, either IDOT or the project sponsor can pay for construction costs. Selecting to have IDOT do construction letting and pay for construction costs is often easier and preferred in many cases. This relieves the project sponsor from having to pay up-front for what are often very costly construction activities. Construction contracts that go through the state letting process must follow the Bureau of Construction billing procedures.  For locally-let projects, approval is needed. The local sponsor would pay the full amount of the contractor’s billing schedule as the project progresses, then documents and requests reimbursement from IDOT for the federal and state (if applicable) share of the project.

The basics of IDOT’s billing process are covered in IDOT’s Standard Specifications Manual.

Q: Are funds reimbursed along the way during a project or after a project is completed?

A: IDOT will reimburse you along the way as you submit paperwork that documents implementation. Reimbursement is processed either once a month or twice a month depending on the size of the project. Before any work qualifies for federal reimbursement: 1) all costs must be approved for funding; 2) authorization must be received from the FHWA prior to any work beginning; and 3) any required agreements must be in place. IDOT will issue a notice to proceed once these conditions have been met that will signal your ability to begin spending grant funds.

Q:  Given that ITEP is a reimbursable grant program, how can higher need communities that don’t have cash on hand still participate?

A: Unfortunately, project sponsors need operating cash on hand to pay for engineering project costs up-front. We’ve heard of some communities working out an agreement with their local MPO or COG to borrow money for the local match which they later pay back.

Fortunately, IDOT can cover up-front construction costs (see questions above for more details).

 

Local Match 

Q: What is the local match requirement?

A: The ITEP grant will provide reimbursements of up to 80 percent for Phase I Engineering, Phase II Engineering, utility relocations, construction engineering, and construction costs. The grant will also provide up to 50 percent reimbursement for right-of-way and easement acquisition costs.

The required 20 percent local match is the responsibility of the project sponsor unless you qualify for state matching funds based on high-need criteria. Once all applications are submitted, the local match will be calculated based on the Community Score and set on a sliding scale of 0, 10, or 20 percent.

Q: For right-of-way and easement acquisition costs that require a 50 percent local match, what local match do high need communities pay?  

A: Depending on your Community Score, you may qualify for a 0 or 10 percent local match for this category.

Q: Because ITEP is made up of both federal and state funds, are other federal and state funds available for the local match?

A: Yes, the ITEP Guidelines have a list of eligible sources that can be used for the local match. Any federal funds used for the local match must be non-transportation related – this means, for example, SRTS funding could not be applied toward the local match. The remaining funding sources listed in the Guidelines are state and local funding possibilities. This includes IDNR grants, community block grants, local tax funds, and financial or in-kind donations. You should contact your IDOT District’s Local Roads staff if you would like to use something not listed to verify it would be eligible.

Q: Can Rebuild Illinois Bond money be used to meet the local match? 

A: If a local public agency receives less than $45,000 per disbursement from the Rebuild Illinois Bond Fund, the bond money can be used on Motor Fuel Tax (MFT) eligible expenses and applied to ITEP’s local match requirement.

For local agencies receiving more than $45,000 per disbursement, they are required to use the money on roadway projects that are deemed bondable (i.e. generally projects with a lifespan of more than 13 years). Local agencies cannot use their money for stand-alone alternative transportation projects whether to solely fund or as a match to ITEP. The only exception is, if they have a major roadway project that is deemed bondable based on the improvement being done and will have collateral or additional work related to ITEP, then IDOT can allow the bond money to be used for the project as a whole. A multi-use path or sidewalk project, for example, is not bondable unless it is in conjunction with a roadway reconstruction project with a 13 year or greater design lifespan.

Q: Do you have any suggestions for creative ways to meet the local match requirement?

A: In addition to the local match suggestions listed in the ITEP Guidelines (see page 25), the following ideas could help project sponsors with limited budgets meet their local match requirements:

  • Partnering with your neighbors or other agencies can help you reduce your cost share by splitting the reimbursable costs and local match with your partners.
  • Check with your Council of Government or Mayors to see if they could contribute towards your local match.
  • Reach out to Foundations or local businesses for local match donations.

 

GATA  

Q: If you are a community who already has a GATA number and your account is up to date, do you need to complete any pre-award requirements?

A:  Yes. There are five GATA grantee pre-award requirements.  The Programmatic Risk Assessment requirement has project specific questions that only relate to an active proposal and need to be completed on the ITEP website.

 

Project Eligibility (General) 

Q: Do projects need to be on Federal Aid Routes?

A: No, they do not need to be on Federal Aid Routes.

Q: Do projects need to follow federal guidelines?   

A: Yes, projects must follow all federal and state requirements in the design and construction process.

Q: Are recreational projects eligible for funding? 

A: Not exclusively. Projects cannot be solely for recreational uses – e.g. a loop trail within a park is ineligible because it does not provide transportation from one destination to another. Your project must provide a mode of transportation for people to travel to destinations such as workplaces, businesses, schools, universities, shopping centers or other communities.

Q: Are Forest Preserve paths eligible? 

A: If the paths are just for recreation, they are not eligible. If the paths connect destinations, they are eligible.

Q: Does my project need to be named in an existing plan to be eligible?

A: If your project is named in a plan, it demonstrates that the project was vetted by the community and aligns with community needs and other planning efforts – be sure to include these plans in your proposal. If a project cannot specifically be found in a plan, you can instead show there is a goal, need, or intention stated in an established local or regional plan to improve walking and biking.

Q: Where do I look to determine if a pedestrian, bicycle, or trail project is part of an established plan? 

A: At the municipal level, check for pedestrian and bike plans, comprehensive plans, downtown development plans, park improvement/green space plans, and Safe Routes to School plans. Your municipal administration should be able to assist.

At the regional and county level, check long-range transportation plans and transportation improvement programs. Reach out to staff at your MPO, RPC, or DOT for assistance if needed. You can also check the Illinois Bicycle Transportation Plan for projects.

Q: Does the MPO have to vet a project or can it be submitted by the community without review and approval by the MPO?

A: In urbanized areas with a population over 50,000, the Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) should definitely be aware of your proposal, and should review your project to ensure consistency with regional transportation plans, policies and programs. The project sponsor is responsible for ensuring that approved projects within an MPO area are included in the most current Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for that MPO. It is also in your best interest to have your MPO (or RPC) provide a letter of support for your proposal.

Q: Can you apply for multiple phases at once? 

A: Yes, you can include multiple project phases in your proposal. For example, you could bundle Phase I Engineering, Phase II Engineering, and Construction into one application as long as the total project cost does not exceed $2 million. Applications that include construction usually score higher than PE I only or PE I/II applications as this ensures the project will most likely move towards completion.

Q: Would a project just for Phase I Engineering qualify?

A: Yes, but this would not be as competitive of an application.

Q: Should I apply for Phase I for the entire length of a project or Phase I/II for a smaller segment of this project?

A: Typically, an application for PE I/II will score higher than a PE I only project because it moves the project farther along the process to completion. If you apply for a segment of a project, the application should explain the full scope of the project to help in the overall scoring of the project.

Depending on the size of the project the sponsor/local should be aware of the FHWA 10 year rule – once a project is authorized with FHWA, it must be completed within 10 years or funds expended will have to be repaid.

Q: Can a Village submit multiple applications? 

A: Yes, but try to focus your efforts on producing high-quality application(s) that focus on your top priorities. As much as possible, combine eligible project elements into one application as long as the project cost falls under the $2 million cap.

Q: If a bike path or trail goes through two municipalities, can they apply together or should they apply separately?

A: We recommend applying together if possible. IDOT appreciates regional collaboration and projects that benefit multiple communities. By partnering, you can also reduce your cost share by splitting the local match with your partner agency. For the application, jointly sponsored projects must identify a lead sponsor (see below for more details on selecting a lead).

Q: If a project covers different areas of jurisdiction (e.g. school district, city park district and township), should the overall project be submitted as separate applications for each area or combined? 

A: Combine cross-jurisdictional projects into a single application and select one lead project sponsor.  It is the responsibility of the lead sponsors to obtain support from and coordinate with all affected jurisdictions

The lead project sponsor should be an agency responsible for a transportation facility such as a public road or street. IDOT recommends choosing a lead that has experience dealing with IDOT, FHWA and NEPA requirements.

Q: Can one project apply under multiple ITEP categories or are we limited to one category per application? 

A: Yes. ITEP has nine eligible project categories. If your project falls into more than one category, choose the one that encompasses the majority of your project’s goals or that is most relevant.

Q: For Chicago projects, who should community-based ideas go through to apply for ITEP funding? 

A: Check with your Alderman and ask them to talk to the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT). A project sponsor must be a local entity with taxing authority such as a local or regional government, transit agency, park district, forest preserve, or schools district. CDOT applies for many federal and state grants every year and staff will have a better sense if a given project is a good fit for ITEP or another funding source.

Q: Given the maximum ITEP award is capped at $2 million per project, should proposals try to ask for the full funding amount? 

A: Ask for what your project requires. During the last grant cycle in 2018, there were 53 projects awarded funding and the average funding amount per proposal was $673,000.

Q: How can I be sure my project in eligible?

A: See below for detailed questions and answers related to project eligibility. Many times eligibility is determined on a case by case basis and if you still have questions after reviewing the ITEP Guidelines and this FAQ, we recommend that you check in directly with the IDOT enhancement coordinator in your area – see the ITEP Guidelines, page 50, for their contact information.

 

Project Eligibility (Detailed)

Q: Are standalone sidewalk projects eligible?

A: Yes, as long as you are building new sidewalks or replacing/reconstructing existing sidewalks to make them more accessible and ADA compliant (e.g. adding crosswalks, curb ramps, etc). Maintenance and repair of sidewalks such as repairing broken or cracked sidewalks are ineligible for funding.

Q: We have 4-foot sidewalk that is not ADA compliant and in poor shape after 25 years. Could we use this grant to widen it to 5 feet and bring it up to ADA requirements?

A: Yes. In this case, you would replace the existing sidewalks with 5 feet sidewalks that are up to current ADA standards.

Q: Are pedestrian bridges eligible?

A: Yes. Pedestrian or bicycle structures or bridges that cross rivers, railroads and roadways are eligible for funding as long as it connects other bicycle/pedestrian facilities or provides a mode of transportation from one destination to another.

Q: Would a pedestrian project combined with lighting be eligible? 

A: Yes, you can bundle eligible project elements together. In your application, pedestrian or bicycle lighting must be justified to show people are using the space at night for transportation. Pedestrian and street lighting projects have new guidance this year so please review ITEP’s updated Guidelines once they become available.

Q: Are signs directing people to a transit station eligible?

A: If directional or regulatory signage is for people walking and biking, this type of signage would be eligible as part of a larger bicycle/pedestrian project. Signage, however, cannot be a stand-alone project. In some cases, this type of project may be a better fit for other funding sources such as Chicagoland’s Regional Transit Authority’s Access to Transit grant.

Q: Can ITEP be used to fund wayfinding on Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) land?

A:  Yes, but you would need to coordinate with IDNR and make sure your project includes more than just wayfinding which is not eligible as a stand alone project. For this type of project, we recommend looking into other grant opportunities such as IDNR’s Bike Path Grant Program – check the IDNR’s grant page for details.

Q: Are traffic signals eligible for funding if part of an overall project? 

A: The installation of a new traffic signal is considered ineligible for ITEP funding. However, modifications to existing traffic signals to add pedestrian signals (e.g. pedestrian signal heads, push buttons, audible signals, etc.) are eligible.

Q: Does the overall project length affect the project score – for example, a ½ mile project versus a four-mile project?

A: No, project length is not necessarily important. Your project should be enhancing the transportation network by helping more people connect to destinations by foot or bike.

Q: Are road work costs to accommodate on-street bicycle improvements eligible?

A: You can use ITEP funding for on-street bicycle improvements. However, road work (i.e. resurfacing) that support cars, trucks, and buses are ineligible for ITEP funds. The enhancement program funding is intended for the design and construction of bikeways for pedestrian and bicycle users. Any extra costs associated with the design and construction of the bikeways for users other than pedestrians and bicyclists are the project sponsor’s responsibility.

Q: Will roadway improvements qualify if you are eliminating a parking lane to provide green space for the construction of a bike path and/or sidewalk?

A:  Yes, ITEP will fund the design and construction of bikeways for pedestrian and bicycle users, including when roads diets are performed to accommodate bikes and pedestrians. Road diets qualify the removal of parking areas to add space for bicycle and pedestrian users. This includes providing adequate buffering of bike and pedestrian facilities from travel lanes as can be seen in these two primary locations (both BDE and BLRS Manuals):

  1. BLRS Manual 42-3.03(d) 2.c read as follows:  Bicycle Facilities 42-3.03(d) On Existing Roads and Streets, Reconfigure or Reduce On-Street Parking. If this option is considered, a parking study may assist in determining impact. Potential solutions include eliminating parking on one side of the street, peak-hour restrictions, or converting diagonal parking to parallel parking. Additional parking spaces may be provided for on side streets or in an off-street parking facility.
  2. BDE Manual, Chapter 17-2.02(g) , Road Diets and Lane Width Reductions …  Bicycles also can be accommodated on a roadway by marking or re-marking the pavement to increase the width of the curb lane or to add bike lanes. For example, it may be feasible to: remove parking, possibly in conjunction with providing off-street parking.

Q: You mentioned resurfacing of streets is not eligible. However, if an on-street bike lane is proposed as part of a bike path it may require rehabilitation of the street to gain appropriate slopes, striping, etc. Would these improvements be covered by ITEP funds?

A: While the bike lane would be eligible for ITEP funding, the roadwork itself would not be eligible and would require a different funding source.

 

Scoring & Community Mapping Tool 

Q: How does IDOT define a high need community?

A: High need communities will be determined using IDOT’s Community Mapping tool. The tool will provide each project with a Community Score based on four factors: percent below poverty level, median household income, property tax rate, and community size. Each factor will receive points using census tract data with poverty level and median household income receiving the highest weight in the final score calculation. Because the score is based on census tract data, the Community Score may vary within a community depending on your project’s location. Once all applications are submitted, 25% of total ITEP funds will be awarded to qualifying proposals with projects that have the highest Community Score.

Q: Is the Community Score based on data from census tracts or the overall community?

A: The Community Score Is based on census tract data and includes all census tracts within a 0.5 mile buffer of the project limits. If the project goes through multiple tracts, the tract with the highest need will determine the overall score.

Q: Is the community mapping tool available on IDOT’s website at this time?

A: Yes, IDOT has published the community mapping tool and updated ITEP Guidelines on IDOT’s ITEP webpage.

Q: What agencies are involved in the review of ITEP applications? 

A: Eligible project applications are assigned to a minimum of three reviewers statewide for a comprehensive review based on established review criteria.  These reviewers consist of MPOs, IDOT districts, other state agencies and internal IDOT staff. Active Trans and Illinois Public Health Institute are NOT involved in reviewing ITEP applications.

 

Past Funding  

Q: What is the typical total funding amount per ITEP cycle?

A: The total amount of funding available in Cycle 13 in 2018 was $36 million in federal funding. Because more funding is expected this year as a result of the state capital bill, the total amount of funding should be more than double that amount. Check the Notice of Funding Opportunity for updates on the amount of funding included in Cycle 14.

Q: Who was awarded ITEP funding in the last cycle? 

A: During Grant Cycle 13 in 2018, 53 projects were awarded funding and the average funding amount per proposal was $673,000.

Q: My project has not been funded in the past. Who can I talk to see what I am doing wrong?

A: In many cases, eligible projects were not awarded ITEP funding in the past due to limited funding available. Other reasons for projects being rejected include inaccurate cost estimates or submitting an ineligible project such as a maintenance or recreational project. After reviewing your past application, you may want to consult with your MPO or RPC or reach out to your local IDOT District Office if you have additional questions.