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Recreational Trails Program Overview

Biker on the MBT

The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) provides funds to the District to develop and maintain trails and trail-related facilities.

What is the Recreational Trails Program?

The RTP provides funds to the District to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both non-motorized and motorized recreational trail uses. Examples of trail uses include hiking, bicycling, in-line skating, equestrian use, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, off-road motorcycling, all-terrain vehicle riding, four-wheel driving, or other off-road motorized vehicles.

Who administers the program?

The RTP is an assistance program of the US Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The DC Department of Parks and Recreation and the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) administer the District’s program. The District has a Recreational Trail Advisory Committee to assist with the program. The committee selects the projects and sends recommendations to DDOT to include in its annual budget. Then DDOT manages the project with the sponsor.

How much money is available?

FY 2016
FY 2017
FY 2018
FY 2019
FY 2020
$825,098 $825,098 $825,098 $825,098 $825,098

What projects are eligible?

Recreational Trails Program funds may be used for the following::

  • Maintenance and restoration of existing trails, including signage.
  • Development and rehabilitation of trailside and trailhead facilities and trail linkages.
  • Purchase and lease of trail construction and maintenance equipment.
  • Construction of new trails (with restrictions for new trails on federal lands).
  • Acquisition of easements or property for trails.
  • Assessment of trail conditions for accessibility and maintenance.
  • Operations of education programs to promote safety and environmental protection related to trails.           Typical education projects may include:
    • Development and operation of trail safety education programs. 
    • Development and operation of trail-related environmental education programs. 
    • Production of trail-related educational materials, whether on information displays, in print, video, audio, interactive computer displays, etc. 

Non-law enforcement trail safety and trail use monitoring patrol programs, and providing trail-related training are also permissible in the RTP. Education program fund is limited to 5 percent of a state's fund. 

Which projects are not eligible?

Recreational Trails Program funds may not be used for:

  • Condemnation of any kind of interest in property. 
  • Construction new trails for motorized use on National Forest or Bureau of Land Management lands unless the project is consistent with resource management plans. 
  • Facilitation motorized access on otherwise non-motorized trails. 
  • Highway rest areas of visitors centers. 

These funds are intended for recreational trails. RTP funds may not be used to improve roads for general passenger vehicle use. RTP funds should not be used to provide shoulders or sidewalks along roads unless the shoulders or sidewalks are necessary to complete a trail link.

Who can sponsor a project?

The District may make grants to non-profits organizations. Projects may be on public or private land, but projects on private land must provide written assurances of public access.

States are encouraged to use qualified youth conservation or service corps for construction and maintenance of recreational trails under this program.

How does project funding work?

In general, the maximum federal share for each project from RTP funds is 80 percent.

The non-federal match must come from project sponsors or other fund sources. DDOT often funds this match. Some in-kind materials and services may be credited toward the project match.

Usually, project payment takes place on a reimbursement basis: the project sponsor must incur costs for work actually completed, and then submit vouchers to the State for payment. Reimbursement is not normally permitted for work that takes place prior to project approval.

How do I obtain Recreational Trails Program project funding?

If you have a trail project proposal, contact DDOT’s Bicycle Program Specialist, Michael Alvino at (202) 671-1321.