The 2005 Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU - Public Law 109-59) authorized $1.05 billion for the Federal Lands Highway Park Roads and Parkways (PRP) program for FY 2005-2009. An additional $500 million has been authorized by Congressional continuing resolutions for FY 2010 and 2011.
The NPS's primary investment priority has been to rehabilitate structurally deficient bridges and to rehabilitate roads (and reduce the backlog of "deferred maintenance needs" in paved roads) to preserve the useful life of these facilities. Between FY 2006-2009, the Federal Lands Transportation Program (FLTP) funded 101 projects at 71 park units in 41 states. With FLTP funding, the NPS has rehabilitated and reconstructed 750.4 miles of roadway and 85 bridges, achieving a 97 percent obligation rate or better of FLTP funds for each year since SAFETEA-LU was enacted. On average, actual construction constitutes 75 percent of this work, while the remainder is spent on such things as construction project design, project planning and visitor transportation system planning, road inventory and condition assessment, and environmental compliance. Under continuing resolutions since FY 2010, the NPS has continued to plan, design, and construct additional road and bridge improvements.
Under the auspices of the Federal Lands Transportation Program (FLTP), the two agencies maintain and improve the quality and condition of some 8,000 miles of public roads (paved and unpaved) and nearly 1,800 bridges and tunnels. Since 1999, alternative transportation projects, such as transit services, also have been supported with FLTP funds.
Under SAFETEA-LU, the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks (TRIP) program was created. The national competitive TRIP program has awarded approximately $40 million to NPS out of the approximately $120 million authorized between FY 2006 and 2010. The other $80 million has been awarded to other participating Federal Land Agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service, and state, local and tribal transit agencies. The majority of NPS TRIP projects awards have been for transit vehicles, planning studies and non-motorized transportation.
In February 2009, the NPS received an additional $170 million (through the Federal Lands Highways Program [FLHP]) as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA Public Law 111-5). These additional funds enabled the NPS to complete additional road and bridge improvements. The Department of the Interior provided NPS with approximately $110 million in additional ARRA funds. The ARRA funds made possible improvements in some of our national icons, such as Great Smoky Mountains, Glacier, Shenandoah, Denali and Theodore Roosevelt National Parks.
In 1987, financial support for the program was substantially cut, and remained low until 1998. This decade of reduced funding resulted in a substantial decline in the condition of park system roads and bridges. Circumstances improved in 1998 when federal legislation doubled the annual dollars available. At the same time, however, the FHWA placed controls on spending-known as obligation limits. This limitation has reduced the funding available to the Federal Lands Transportation Program each year by 8% to 16% below the authorized levels.
Out of nearly $2 billion invested in the NPS transportation system over the last 4 years, approximately 59 percent of the funding has come through the U.S. Department of Transportation (e.g., FLHP, TRIP, etc.) with the remaining 41 percent of the funding coming from NPS appropriated funds (e.g., Repair-Rehabilitation Program, Recreation Fees, etc.).