The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization board members unanimously approved the allocation of $1 million to the Texas Department of Transportation for a shared-use path bridge at Hwy. 290 and SH 130 at a meeting June 10.

The project will help resolve pedestrian and bicycle safety issues, provide improved mobility for cyclists and pedestrians, and benefit communities protected under the Civil Rights Act, according to a summary prepared by CAMPO staff.

The funding for the shared-use path became available as a result of a project transfer.

In 2015, CAMPO’s board awarded $1 million in funding to Travis County for a separate project planned along SH 130 for Fiscal Year 2019.

Travis County and TxDOT recently agreed TxDOT would take over sponsorship and development of that project and move its funding obligation to fiscal year 2022 at the earliest, according to a summary written by Ryan Collins, a short-range planning manager for CAMPO.

CAMPO’s initial funding commitment, now freed up, must be reallocated to another project or CAMPO risks a funding lapse, per the summary.

The reason CAMPO risks such a lapse is because it received the funds through the state's Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside, or TASA, program.

TxDOT administers TASA funds for locally sponsored bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects. In urban areas with populations over 200,000, TASA funds are distributed to metropolitan planning organizations, such as CAMPO.

Unlike some other federal and state grants, TASA funds are only available for a four-year window once they are authorized, Collins told board members at the June 10 meeting.

As a result, the $1 million is only available for CAMPO to allocate through the end of this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

In light of this deadline, CAMPO staff requested the submission of an eligible project from TxDOT in the Austin area that was ready to move forward immediately and make use of the entirety of the available funds.

“In an ideal world, if we have money to obligate, we want to take it through a competitive call,” Collins said. “But because we’re on a three-month timeframe, we weren’t able to do that because TxDOT is really the only one that’s able to move forward with a project that quickly.”

TxDOT submitted its shared-use path project at Hwy. 290 and SH 130 as an eligible alternative.

With CAMPO’s approval, the project will begin the construction contract bidding process this September.