The TA Set-Aside are Federal highway and transit funds under the Surface Transportation Program (STP) for community based “non traditional” projects designed to strengthen the cultural, aesthetic, and environmental aspects of the nation’s intermodal transportation system. The TA Set-Aside Program continues to provide funds to build pedestrian and bicycle facilities, improve access to public transportation, create safe routes to school, preserve historic transportation structures, provide environmental mitigation, and create trail projects that serve a transportation purpose while promoting safety and mobility.
Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) first introduced fundamental changes to the administration of local programs, including those that previously existed as separate programs in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act – A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) legislation. Transportation Enhancements (TE), Safe Routes to School (SRTS), Scenic Byways (Byways) and the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) were previously consolidated into the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). With the exception of the RTP, which takes funding “off the top”, the current eligible activities from the SAFETEA-LU programs compete against each other for funding.
In December 2015, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act was passed, renaming the previous TAP to the Set-Aside of the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program. For clarity, the program is referred to as the Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside or TA Set-Aside.
Other than the name change, the TA Set-Aside is largely unchanged from the previous TAP. One notable change is that nonprofit organizations that oversee the administration of local transportation safety programs are now eligible project sponsors.
The term "transportation alternatives" means any of the following activities when carried out as part of any program or project authorized or funded under this title, or as an independent program or project related to surface transportation:
Construction, planning, and design of on-road and off-road trail facilities for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other nonmotorized forms of transportation, including sidewalks, bicycle infrastructure, pedestrian and bicycle signals, traffic calming techniques, lighting and other safety-related infrastructure, and transportation projects to achieve compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- Construction, planning, and design of infrastructure-related projects and systems that will provide safe routes for non-drivers, including children, older adults, and individuals with disabilities to access daily needs.
- Conversion and use of abandoned railroad corridors for trails for pedestrians, bicyclists, or other nonmotorized transportation users.
- Construction of turnouts, overlooks, and viewing areas.
Community improvement activities, including—
- inventory, control, or removal of outdoor advertising;
- historic preservation and rehabilitation of historic transportation facilities;
- vegetation management practices in transportation rights-of-way to improve roadway safety, prevent against invasive species, and provide erosion control; and
- archaeological activities relating to impacts from implementation of a transportation project eligible under this title.
Any environmental mitigation activity, including pollution prevention and pollution abatement activities and mitigation to—
- address stormwater management, control, and water pollution prevention or abatement related to highway construction or due to highway runoff, including activities described in 23 U.S.C. sections 133(b)(11), 328(a), and 329; or
- reduce vehicle-caused wildlife mortality or to restore and maintain connectivity among terrestrial or aquatic habitats.
In addition to the TA Set-Aside activities that were listed, TA Set-Aside funds may also be used for the Recreational Trails Program and Safe Routes to School.