Background on Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP)

Established in 1982 as the Rural Technical Assistance Program (RTAP), the Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) is a program of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). LTAP provides for local highway agencies’ improved access to highway technology to meet the growing demands placed on local roads, bridges and public transportation. It began as a collection of twelve FHWA-funded national technical projects that developed and delivered training, videotape presentations, computer software, manuals, and technical products to rural transportation agencies.

Between 1982 and 1989, the RTAP grew to a program of more than 100 individual projects. One of these projects, which proved to be a channel for transportation technology, grew into the RTAP center network. It began with 10 pilot programs strategically located throughout the United States, gaining solid support from State governments and local agencies.

After 10 successful years of increasing service to its rural customers, the program was expanded through the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991, becoming a local program (or LTAP) that includes urban communities and tribal governments.

LTAP has established a nationwide system of technology transfer (T2) centers, some of which are located in universities, with others in State highway agencies. Six centers serve American Indian Tribal Governments. Each center develops a mix of technology transfer tools and information to effectively address the needs of the local/tribal highway community.

Funding for the centers is provided through the Federal-aid process, which requires support and involvement from State highway agencies. The funding for the centers comes from Federal LTAP funds, State departments of transportation, universities, local agencies, and finances designated by State legislation. The centers serving American Indian Tribal Governments are jointly funded by FHWA and the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 provided authority to expand the program into urban areas as resources become available through 1997. This new authorization also included an emphasis on intergovernmental transportation planning for American Indian Tribal governments, through training and technical assistance. The centers enable local agencies to improve their transportation network by:

  • Increasing transportation expertise at the state and local levels
  • Providing a channel for materials prepared at the national level for local use
  • Promoting the effective use of research findings and innovations for improving transportation
  • Meeting the needs of transportation personnel on local areas with tailored resource materials

The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) has extended federal support to LTAP through the year 2003.