Regional Transportation Funding
The RRTPO administers three regional transportation funding programs:
- the Regional Surface Transportation Block Grant Program (RSTBG);
- the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) program; and
- Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside.
These federally-funded transportation programs are designed to empower communities to cooperatively determine the future of transportation in a region. Although the federal funds are provided to and administered by the state, the project selection and allocation decisions of how to expend the funds are performed by locally-elected officials coming together as a regional council known as a metropolitan planning organization or transportation planning organization.
Each year, the member localities and regional transportation partners engage in a competitive process where projects are submitted for funds from these programs. Together, the RRTPO members assess the merit and regional value of each before determining final allocations.
Regional Surface Transportation Block Grant (RSTBG)
The Surface Transportation Block Grant Program (STBG) provides states and regions with flexible federal funding that may be used for a wide variety of highway and transit projects. Regional STBG funds are automatically sub allocated to regional planning organizations within the State. The wide variety of RSTGB investments in the Richmond Region support passenger and freight movement along the region’s surface transportation systems. The funds can be used to preserve and improve the conditions and performance on highways, bridges, tunnels, pedestrian facilities, bicycle infrastructure, and transit capital projects.
The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program provides federal funding for transportation projects and programs that help improve air quality and reduce traffic congestion. The program was established by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 and continues to fund projects located in areas that don’t currently – or previously didn’t – meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone, carbon monoxide, or particulate matter.
Portions of the Richmond region were previously nonattainment areas, but now the region’s air quality is in compliance. Through the RRTPO's Ozone Advance agreement with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) the RRTPO continues to qualify for CMAQ funds. The federal government provides CMAQ funds to the Commonwealth of Virginia, which voluntarily suballocates a portion for projects and programs selected by regional metropolitan planning organizations.
The Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside provides funding for programs and projects defined as transportation alternatives, including pedestrian facilities, bicycle facilities, recreational trails, safe routes to school, and infrastructure projects for improving non-driver access to public transportation.
TA Set-Aside is an allocation set-aside within the Surface Transportation Block Grant funding allocation. This is no longer an independent program as it has been in the past. Starting Fiscal Year 2018, Virginia’s TA Set-Aside application cycle is moving to a biannual cycle. More information can be found with VDOT’s Local Assistance Division – Transportation Alternatives.
RSTBG and CMAQ Project Selection Process
On September 3, 2020, the RRTPO allocated $124 million over 31 projects in RSTBG funding and $51.3 million over 20 projects in CMAQ funding. These projects may receive funds over the next six years for planning, right-of-way, and construction phases.