Established in 1981 as the Rural Technical Assistance Program, 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.
LTAP has established a nationwide system of 58 technology transfer (T2) centers, some of which are located in universities, with others in state transportation agencies. Seven of these centers serve American Indian tribal governments, and one serves Puerto Rico. Each center develop their own mix of technology transfer tools and information to most effectively address the needs of their local highway communities.
Funding for the centers is provided through the federal aid process, which requires support and involvement from state transportation agencies. 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 (ISTEA) provided authority to expand the program into urban areas. ISTEA also included an emphasis on intergovernmental transportation planning for American Indian tribal governments, through training and technical assistance. The Transportation Efficiency Act (TEA-21) continues the program today.
The technology transfer centers enable local agencies to improve their transportation network by:
- Increasing transportation expertise at the state and local governments.
- 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 in local governments with tailored resource materials.
The Washington State LTAP Center is the LTAP center for the state of Washington and is one of the national network of transportation T2 centers.
As noted by Rodney E. Slater, former USDOT Administrator, "The LTAP network is living proof that the partnerships that have evolved among the states, academia, local highway agencies, tribal governments, and the federal government, can accomplish more than these groups working in isolation."