Inside South Carolina Department of Transportation

SC Transportation Alternative Program

Program Background

Legislative History

The Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) was authorized by the Federal transportation funding Act - the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) that was signed into law on July 6, 2012. The Transportation Alternatives Program redefines the former Transportation Enhancements (TE) activities and consolidates these eligibilities with the Safe Routes to School and Recreational Trails Programs. The Transportation Enhancements program was originally authorized in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) and continued through two successive laws TEA-21 and SAFETEA-LU. The Transportation Alternatives program builds upon the legacy of the TE program by expanding travel choices, strengthening the local economy, improving the quality of life, and protecting the environment. The most recent Transportation Funding Act, Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act continues funding TAP through 2020.

Mission of the Transportation Alternatives Program

Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) projects are federally-funded community-based projects that expand travel choices and improve the transportation experience by improving the cultural, historic, and environmental aspects of our transportation infrastructure.

Reimbursable Nature of the Program

The Transportation Alternatives program is a part of the Federal-aid Highway Program. Although the program is a "grant" program under Federal regulation, is not an "up-front" grant program and funds are available only on a reimbursement basis. Only after a project has been approved by the State Department of Transportation or Metropolitan Planning Organization and the FHWA division office, can costs become eligible for reimbursement. Costs must be incurred after FHWA division office project approval, or they are not eligible for reimbursement.

Program Structure

The divisions for the population-based suballocation are:

  1. $2,999,400 Million - In urbanized areas of the State with an urbanized area population of over 200,000, also known as a Transportation Management Area;
  2. $1,834,589 Million - In areas of the State other than urban areas with a population greater than 5,000; and
  3. $2,600,164 Million - In areas of the state with a population less than 5,000.

TMAs Target Allocations
Area Target Federal Allocation
ARTS $166,358
CHATS $881,427
RFATS $110,833
COATS $883,634
GPATS $643,694
GSATS $313,455
Total $2,999,401

Eligible Activities

The following eligibilities are authorized in FAST for the Transportation Alternatives Program and by the SCDOT Commission:

  1. Pedestrian Facilities
  2. Bicycle Facilities
  3. Streetscaping Projects

Eligible Applicants

FAST authorizes the following entities to apply for Transportation Alternatives Funding:

  • Local Governments
  • Regional Transportation Authorities
  • Transit Agencies
  • Natural Resource or Public Lands Agencies
  • School Districts, Local Education Agencies or Schools
  • Tribal Governments
  • Any other local or regional governmental entity with responsibility for oversight of transportation or recreational trails (other than a metropolitan planning organization or a State agency that the State determines to be eligible).

Eligible Costs

Only certain costs are eligible for reimbursement through the Transportation Alternatives program. An obligation occurs when a project is approved and a project agreement is executed between the Federal government (FHWA division offices) and the State. Although considerable time and money may have already been spent developing a project, an obligation marks the beginning of project costs which are eligible for reimbursement. Any design and feasibility studies conducted prior to receipt of a Notice to Proceed are not eligible.

After obligation many project specific costs are eligible. Preliminary and final engineering work including project development, environmental work, cost estimates, and construction plans are eligible after approval is received by the administering agency. Utility relocations, construction engineering, and construction costs would also be eligible. Right-of-way property rights required for TAP projects and the acquisition of this ROW may be an eligible expense. The acquisition of real property is subject to the federal Uniform Act.

Local Match

The Federal government will pay for up to 80% of eligible project costs for a TAP project. A local match is required to pay for 20% or more of the remaining project costs.

Project Sponsor Responsibilities

The applicant should make clear during the application process if the project would be administered by SCDOT or administered through the Local Public Agency (LPA) process and if so, what the duties of the local agency are.

Application Process

Applications are accepted year round. FAST requires that States and MPOs in the designated transportation management areas use a competitive process for eligible entities to submit Transportation Alternatives projects. It is important for potential applicants to understand what makes a project competitive for funding. It is recommended that potential applicants contact a TAP coordinator at 803-737-1952 to discuss the proposed project prior to completing an application. Staff is available to assist by providing more information on the program, guidance on competitive projects, and how to best develop a competitive application. The TAP application and program guidance are available below.

Related Documents:

TAP Application (PDF 103 Kb)
TAP Alternatives Program Guidance (PDF 100 Kb)