Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Make a Call or eMail To Save Transporation Enhancements

OutdoorBlips: vote it up!
from American Trails and the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

Tomorrow, Sept 16, the US Senate will vote on the FY10 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill. Senators Coburn and McCain have teamed up to write an amendment which will gut the Transportaion Enhancement Fund that pays for many bicycle paths and paved pedestrian walkways. In an effort to bail out the Highway Trust Fund, they are seeking to eliminate funding for anything other than motorized transportation.

Despite the fact that some of these are required by law, the amendment calls non-motorized pathways "some of the many examples of extraneous expenditures." They are calling for the Transportation Department to set new priorities. Of course, if the Highway Trust Fund had been managed properly there would be no need to raid the enhancements.

McCain and Coburn state that the new priorities must be set because of the "realities of a collapsing transportation infrastructure." It seems as if they have forgotten that all the bike paths funded by enhancement dollars had to meet the criteria of "alternate transportation routes." Because of pedestrian and bicycle paths many people choose to stay off the roads, thus relieving some of the stress and congestion. The Safe Routes to School program has used these funds to make it possible for children to ride bikes or walk to school rather than being driven by parents.

If you think that, despite some highly publicized examples of misuse of Transportation Enhancement Funds, rails-to-trails, urban pathways, pedestrian walkways on bridges, and bicycle lanes on streets and highways have values, please contact your senator and ask him or her to vote against Amendments 2370 and 2371 to H.R. 3288.

Amendment 2370 would prohibit the use of federal funds for pedestrian or bicycle facilities, efforts to reduce vehicle collisions with wildlife, or other specified Transportation Enhancement (TE) projects if the Highway Trust Fund cannot cover unfunded highway authorizations.

Amendment 2371 would allow states to eliminate spending on TE, the nation’s largest funding source for trails, walking and bicycling. Congress currently sets aside a portion of federal funds for TE to support these projects in all states.

Read the Coburn- McCain amendment
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