USDOT Grants $830 Million-Plus Toward Walking & Biking Connections

Connected walking and biking infrastructure will provide equitable access and opportunity to communities across the country with projects funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) under the one-time Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods grant program. So says Rails to Trails Conservancy, the nation’s largest trails, walking and biking advocacy organization. 

Projects focused solely on trails, walking and biking accounted for $834 million—or 25%—of the total $3.3 billion in finding, and 85% of all of the 132 projects include elements that account for active transportation—bringing to light the depth of demand for this infrastructure nationwide.

“USDOT is making precedent-setting strides through its recent grantmaking to advance trails, walking and biking as essential to connect people to opportunities and provide equitable transportation options in communities of all sizes,” said Kevin Mills, RTC’s vice president of policy. “This is the largest one-time federal investment in active transportation infrastructure that’s ever been made, and it will make it safer and more convenient for people from places all across America to walk and bike where they need to go.”

Included among the grants are projects that showcase the outsized impact that large-scale federal investments can have in creating connected trail and active transportation networks. For example, a $24 million grant in Montana will close trail gap No. 77 in the Great American Rail-Trail, the nation’s first cross-country walking and biking route that will be entirely separated from vehicle traffic, creating new connections between urban East Missoula and rural Sha-Ron and Marshall, which have been cut off from one another due to a lack of safe walking and biking facilities and physical barriers created by a highway and a railroad overpass.

The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Bike Path will create a new multimodal facility to connect within and between tribal communities.

And in Honolulu, Hawaii, a $19 million grant will build a pedestrian bridge to connect a historically underserved community to a new rail transit station.

“The investments that DOT has made in walking and biking infrastructure are remarkable, and they reinforce what we’ve long known—active transportation is a fundamental component of a healthy, sustainable transportation system that meets the mobility needs of all Americans,” Mills said. “But one-time investments only get us so far. Nationwide, there are hundreds of trail and active transportation networks under development, and they are in every state. We need ongoing, dedicated funding like what the Active Transportation Infrastructure Investment Program will provide to ensure communities can continue to fill gaps in these active transportation systems, making it safer and more convenient for people to walk and bike where they need to go.”

The Active Transportation Infrastructure Investment Program is a new program providing dedicated funding for the planning and construction of safe and connected active-transportation networks and long-distance spine trails. The program was authorized in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and received its first appropriation in the Fiscal Year 2023 federal funding bill. The first grant opportunity is expected to be announced soon. RTC, Congressional champions and partners across the country are continuing to advocate for full program funding in the FY 2025 federal budget.