GPATS Funding Mechanism

 

GPATS projects are funded through federal and state transportation funds. Several sources of funds are involved in projects that appear in the TIP.  Sources identified in this list are explained in greater detail below.

Guideshare Program

 

Funds for road improvements are allocated by SCDOT through the Guideshare Program. The S.C. Transportation Commission sets aside approximately $114 million dollars of FHWA and SCDOT funds each year and distributes the money among the state’s ten MPOs and Councils of Governments based on population and vehicle miles of travel in each region. The Guideshare sets the annual budget for highway improvements within each MPO or COG, and total project costs in any given year normally cannot exceed the Guideshare apportionment.

 

Road improvements may include constructing new roads, adding traffic lanes to existing roads, constructing paved shoulders, installing traffic signals, constructing sidewalks or bike lanes, or making safety improvements. Major maintenance improvements may also be included, such as resurfacing a road. However, minor maintenance activities such as patching potholes are not funded through GPATS, but are handled directly by SCDOT maintenance units.

 

GPATS’ apportionment from the Guideshare Program is just over $18 million annually. Of this amount, approximately $3.5 million per year is devoted to debt service. SCDOT developed an innovative financing plan in 1998 to accelerate  construction of many projects that were built between 1998 and 2007, and issued bonds to fund the plan. Debt service payments will continue though 2022 to retire the bonds that were issued to fund the accelerated construction program.

Guideshare Program

$18,078,000 Annually:

  • $14,410,000 for federal-aid eligible road and highway projects
  • $3,518,000 as Debt Service

 

Guideshare-Exempt Programs

Examples of Exempt Programs:

Funding varies depending on the projects as listed

  • Congressional Earmarks
  • SCDOT Interstate Maintenance and Upgrade
  • SCDOT Bridge Replacement Program
  • SCDOT Resurfacing Program
  • SCDOT Safety Program
  • Recreational Trails Program

 

Transportation Alternatives Program

FY 2017: $643,694 available for projects

3 project applicants:

  • Anderson County (Ragsdale Road Sidewalks Additional Funding)
  • City of Fountain Inn (Woodside Park Connector)
  • City of Pickens (Pickens Downtown Doodle Connector)
Exempt Projects

 

Projects that are funded on a statewide basis, through other federal programs, or through Congressional Earmarks are listed in the TIP as “Projects Exempt from Guideshare,” which means the projects are funded through other sources. Most of these projects are on the Interstate Highway System; SCDOT identifies and funds Interstate projects through a statewide system and advises each MPO and COG of Interstate projects to be funded. Bridge replacement projects, resurfacing projects, safety projects, and other statewide programs are also listed here.

 

The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) is an assistance program of the Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Federal transportation funds benefit recreation by making funds available to the States to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both non-motorized and motorized recreational trail uses.

 

The RTP funds come from the Federal Highway Trust Fund, and represent a portion of the motor fuel excise tax collected from non-highway recreational fuel use: fuel used for off-highway recreation by snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, off-highway motorcycles, and off-highway light trucks.

Transportation Alternatives Projects

 

In 1991, Congress passed a landmark transportation bill, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA). The Transportation Enhancement Program was initially created by ISTEA and was widely popular, in part because it funded projects that had frequently been left out of highway improvement plans in past years. When ISTEA expired, the program was replaced by the Transportation Alternatives Program, which was put in place by MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century) legislation. Eligibility for the TAP funds includes projects including: on- and off-road pedestrian and bicycle facilities, infrastructure projects for improving non-driver access to public transportation and enhanced mobility, community improvement activities, and environmental mitigation; recreational trail projects; safe routes to school projects; and projects for planning, designing, or constructing boulevards and other roadways largely in the right-of-way of former divided highways. The main difference between the TAP and TE programs is that under TAP, projects that are strictly for beautification (such as gateway projects) are not eligible. All projects must have a clear relationship to transportation. More information is available on the internet at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/transportation_alternatives/.

 

GPATS receives around on average about $630,000 annually for Transportation Alternative projects, which is then applied for by local jurisdictions/municipalities/organizations within the MPO urbanized area. The projects are ranked in-house and go before GPATS Study Team for initial approval and ultimately Policy Committee for final approval. These projects are then placed into the TIP, Transportation Improvement Program. Past and current projects are included in the TIP Financial Statement.

State Infrastructure Bank Projects

 

Section 350 of the National Highway System Designation Act of 1995 (NHS Act) (Public Law 104-59) authorized the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) to establish the State Infrastructure Bank (SIB) Pilot Program. A SIB is a revolving fund mechanism for financing a wide variety of highway and transit projects through loans and credit enhancement. SIBs are designed to complement traditional Federal-aid highway and transit grants by providing States
increased flexibility for financing infrastructure investments. Under the initial SIB Pilot Program, ten states were authorized to establish SIBs.

 

The General Assembly of the State during its 1997 session enacted Act No. 148 which created the South Carolina Transportation Infrastructure Bank (SCTIB) to select and assist in financing major qualified projects by providing loans and other financial assistance to government units and private entities for constructing and improving highway and transportation facilities necessary for public purposes including economic development.

 

The major sources of revenue for South Carolina SIB include $66 million from the State General Fund as a one-time source of capitalization and state recurring monies which include a share of a one-cent per gallon gas tax (approximately $22 million annually) and truck registration fees (approximately $53 million annually). Other sources include contributions from the borrowers who have received SIB funding in the form of loan repayments and additional
contributions from SCDOT.

Federal Transit Administration Projects

 

Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is the federal department in charge of allocating funds to finance public transit for rural/urbanized areas. Large urbanized area are regions with population of 200,000 people or greater. Within the boundaries of GPATS, there’s a population of 686,274 as of the 2010 census. Also, Mauldin-Simpsonville is a separate small urbanized area, within GPATS’ boundaries, with a population under 200,000 and its funding is apportioned to the state in a “Governor’s Apportionment,” and the state determines how to distribute funds from the Governor’s Apportionment.

 

GPATS itself is not a public transit provider, however, as the region’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), by state law, FTA funds must pass through the MPO before being allocated to the regional transit providers. GPATS also serves as the Designated Recipient for the Urbanized Areas, and assumes the official capacity for receiving and distributing funds on behalf of FTA.  Though, before transit providers can use the available funds, the transit providers must present a 20% match to the total funds being requested.

There are six Federal Transit Administration Funds available:

 

  1. 5303 Fundsthese funds are used for metropolitan and statewide planning, studies, but NOT salaries. Under state law, this fund doesn’t exist, but is instead combined with Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Metropolitan Planning (PL) Funds. An amount of the PL Fund is set aside and allocated instead of 5303 Funds.
  2. 5307 Fundsthese funds are used for capital, operations and planning. Only available to large/small urbanized areas, but small urbanized area must cover up to 50% of the net operating expenses of the transit system.
  3. 5310 Fundsthese funds are used to enhance services for seniors and people with disabilities. This funding has grown to include funding enhancements for American with Disabilities Act (ADA) services and providing services for people who need help getting to and from work. GPATS currently is an applicant to receive Direct Recipient Status from FTA to be authorized to manage this fund.
  4. 5311 Fundsthese funds are used for capital, operations and planning. Only available to rural areas, GPATS is NOT eligible. This funding goes to rural areas through SC Department of Transportation (SCDOT) instead of MPO.
  5. 5337 Fundsthese funds are uses for preventative maintenance for fixed guideway projects, which included tracks and segregated Right-of-Ways (ROWs) for transit including High Occupancy Vehicles (HOV) lanes. GPATS has no such infrastructure within its boundaries.
  6. 5339 Fundsthese funds are used to purchase new equipment and construct new facilities. Preventative maintenance is NOT eligible. GPATS currently is an applicant to receive Direct Recipient Status from FTA to be authorized to manage this fund.