Draft PA Transportation Improvement Program is Released: Your Voice Needed to Prioritize the Circuit Trails

by | May 27, 2022 | News, Action Center, Biking the Region, The Circuit | 0 comments

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) has opened the public comment period for the Draft FY2023 TIP for Pennsylvania which is a critical opportunity for the Circuit Trails and bicycle/pedestrian projects. The Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) is the regionally agreed upon list of priority transportation projects over a four-year period, as required by federal law. The TIP document contains a multi-modal list of all projects that intend to use federal funds, along with all non-federally funded projects that are regionally significant, with estimated costs and schedules. It is updated every two years and provides an important opportunity to submit public comments on policies, individual projects and what the region spends federal transportation dollars on. Once a project has been programmed into the TIP, it is prioritized for federal transportation spending and greatly accelerates trail network development.

Our Executive Director and Chair for the Circuit Trails Coalition, Sarah Clark Stuart joined the 5/26 board meeting to give a public comment on this agenda item and to remind the DVRPC Board about their commitment to allocate $1.6 Billion (over a 29 year period) toward bicycle and pedestrian projects in DVRPC’s Connections 2050 long-range plan. With the public comment period around the corner, this is an important moment when will need your support to move the Circuit Trails closer to completion.

Looking back to September of 2021, the Connections 2050 long-range plan was updated (thanks to your advocacy) and brought the following key plan changes to the Connections 2050 Process & Analysis Manual and the Policy Manual shown below. This update was critical and provided the Circuit Coalition to take this opportunity to the next level now that the Circuit has been reframed as a major regional project which allows these projects to be more competitive in the funding process.

Process & Analysis Manual:

  • More clearly noting that Circuit Trail projects can advance into the TIP as ‘illustrative’ projects
  • Added description of all federal and state funding types and their eligible uses
  • Discussion about challenges in delivering bike and pedestrian projects

Policy Manual:

  • Clarify the financial plan (Non-major regional projects in TIP, separate roadway and transit budgets, year-of-expenditure monies)
  • Note that the Plan shapes the pipeline of projects and regional planning agenda
  • Notes where more work needs to be done

To keep the momentum going and to reach the Circuit Trails Coalition’s goal of 500 miles by 2025, we will need your voice to amplify our comment about the FY23 TIP to DVRPC, which we anticipate we will release on June 2nd. In order to keep the region on track to reach 500 miles by 2025, the Bicycle Coalition recently published the Circuit Coalition’s policy report, Moving the Circuit Forward thanks to the support provided from the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC), Tri-State Transportation Campaign and data provided by DVRPC. This report is the result of the last three years worth of work conducted by members of the Circuit Trails Coalition to identify which segments could contribute to reaching the 500 miles by 2025 goal.

In each of the nine counties that make up the Greater Philadelphia region, there are priority Circuit Trails projects that the Coalition is constantly advocating for to help reach the interim goal of 500 miles by 2025. In order to achieve the 2025 goal, approximately 98 miles of trail need to be fully funded or completed in the next three years. As an example, below shows the status of trails in Montgomery County, the priority trail project highlighted in red, and miles of trail that are fully funded, in progress or pipeline status. The collection of this information in each county allows the Coalition to better understand where our advocacy efforts need our attention and how it may align with opportunities such as the Transportation Improvement Program.

In preparation for DVRPC’s public comment period for the Draft FY2023 TIP for Pennsylvania, members of the Circuit Coalition gathered information on the amount of funding needed for the trail projects that make up the PA counties in the region. Additionally, significant research has been conducted to assure which trail projects should be programmed into the FY2023 TIP for PA. For example, the Germantown Pike Bridge that is shown in the chart above, is one of many projects that should be programmed into the PA TIP for federal funding to close a critical gap along the Circuit in Montgomery County.

With additional resources available to the Circuit Coalition and a closer look at the Connections 2050 long-range plan, a major gap in funding of $10 to $20 million annually for Circuit and bicycle and pedestrian projects has been identified. DVRPC’s upcoming draft FY23 TIP for PA is an opportunity to rectify the gap in funding by asking DVRPC to commit to the recommended $55 million annually that is noted in the long-range plan. 

We will need your help to advocate for this commitment from DVRPC. At the moment, the Circuit Coalition is reviewing the FY23 TIP and developing an action and comment addressed to the DVRPC board for their consideration. As a reminder, The public comment period for the Draft DVRPC FY23 Transportation Improvement Program for Pennsylvania (FY23-26) will open on May 27, 2022 and the public will have the opportunity to provide comments until June 28th. Stay tuned for our action alert address to DVRPC.

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