Local Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs may benefit from local funding in addition to funds secured through the Federal-aid state SRTS program.* Though some communities have implemented complex local government financing tools such as sales tax funding or bonds to fund SRTS programs, the easiest and most common way to access local funding is to identify existing pots of money that are currently flowing to transportation, safety or health issues and tap into them.
There are two categories of local funding through which to pursue SRTS funds: capital improvement projects and operating budgets.
Capital improvement projects (CIPs) are new infrastructure projects implemented using public funds. These projects are identified through a capital improvement planning process which is tied to the local budget. During the planning process, the local government identifies and prioritizes capital improvements such as new roads and sidewalks, and then allocates funding for construction at least one year before the project is implemented.
Because CIPs may take a couple of years to complete, CIPs tend to have multi-year budgets. However, most CIPs have the capacity to make changes and fund newly identified projects and pressing needs. A local transportation planner or engineer serving on a SRTS taskforce or committee could assist in identifying infrastructure projects and including them in the capital improvement planning process.
Local operating budgets may provide avenues for non-infrastructure programs and infrastructure maintenance and repair. Transportation budgets may include funding for pedestrian and bicycle programs or school zone improvements. Police or Public safety budgets may include funding for traffic law enforcement or school crossing guards. Public school budgets may include opportunities for safety education or walking and bicycling encouragement programs. Recreation budgets may include funding for after school programs. Including a representative from these departments on a SRTS taskforce or committee allows complementary sources of funding to be more easily identified.
Most local operating budgets include funding for general maintenance and repair of infrastructure. Depending on the size of the budget, these funds can be used for inexpensive projects such as striping crosswalks or installing signage, or more costly projects such as installing curb ramps.
Need help deciphering federal financing terms?
Check out our Federal Terms Glossary
Looking for state-specfic federal funding information?
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Contact your State SRTS Coordinator.
In July 2012, Congress passed a new transportation bill: Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21). Beginning in October 2012, Safe Routes to School (SRTS) activities will be eligible to compete for funding alongside other programs, including the Transportation Enhancements program and Recreational Trails program, as part of a new program called Transportation Alternatives. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is charged with putting the legislation into practice, and it provides information about MAP-21 on its website.
State SRTS programs are also in the process of determining how to handle the new legislation. As the States provide information about how they will proceed with Safe Routes to School, the information will be available on our State SRTS pages.