On July 10th, MoDOT released the rural 2023 Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) Call for Projects. The revamped scoring criteria give more opportunities for communities to compete for successful and long-lasting active transportation improvements.
The Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) is the largest source of active transportation funding in Missouri. According to MoDOT, TAP "provides opportunities to expand transportation choices and enhance the transportation experience through categories of activities related to the surface transportation system. The TAP focuses on non-traditional transportation projects," including built-environment interventions such as trail and sidewalk development for pedestrians, bicyclists, wheelchair users, and transit riders.
Unlike other states with dedicated funding for active transportation projects—such as the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund and Tennessee's Multimodal Access Fund—Missouri communities rely primarily on the Federal TAP funding to build sidewalks and trails. Therefore, it is critical that TAP funding is available and accessible to all Missouri communities.
Missouri Department of Transportation updated the scoring criteria for the rural 2023 TAP Call for Projects, which applies to all communities in Missouri outside of the Metropolitan Planning Organizations of East-West Gateway Council of Governments (St. Louis area), Mid-America Regional Council (Kansas City area), and Ozarks Transportation Organization (Springfield area).
MRT commends MoDOT for adjusting the point values and scoring criteria to directly address barriers that existed on previous TAP applications. Comparing the most recent 2022 Supplemental Call for Projects with the current 2023 Call for Projects is night and day; TAP funding is now more poised than ever to be distributed to the communities most in need of safety interventions and connectivity enhancements.
Here are some of the changes:
MRT was grateful for these improvements, particularly since we connected with MoDOT's TAP Administration Team to advocate for updates. The TAP evaluation criteria had not been substantially updated in years, and MRT as well as other organizations elevated opportunities for improvement to MoDOT's TAP project team.
We requested that the evaluation form inquires whether communities have complete streets policies, which is now included for the first time on TAP grant applications. Furthermore, we requested that the point scoring of the evaluation criteria focuses less on the budget and whether communities have additional funding to complete a project. Instead, we advocated for the scoring to focus more heavily on the long-term safety and connectivity impacts of the project. Overall, many of our suggestions were incorporated into the new evaluation criteria, which we believe will have long-term benefits for communities.
With a greater focus on equitable street design in the TAP program, more communities will benefit from connected active transportation networks by encouraging healthier economies and more physically active Missourians. Now more than ever, TAP is better positioned to give children safe options to walk and bike to school, for employees to reach their workplace without a car, and for community members to access grocery stores, health appointments, and government services, no matter their mode of transportation.
For questions related to TAP, contact MoDOT's Rural TAP Program Administrator Laura Ellen: Laura.Ellen@modot.mo.gov or 314-275-1542.
For a look at the overall process for TAP, review a presentation MRT gave for the 2022 Call for Projects (and follow up with this year's current TAP call to see what's changed):
2023 TAP Call for Projects: https://www.modot.org/node/30494