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News / 2011 / November / Action Alert-Information re. the Current...
November 6, 2011
Action Alert-Information re. the Current Senate Transportation Bill
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The Senate version of a new two-year transportation authorization bill was released on Friday, and it does not preserve dedicated funding as had been promised. Worse yet, it adds more eligible activities and gives an opt-out option all together. The "opt-out" option is horrible for bicyclists in a state like Indiana where we often send back Transportation Enhancement money instead of using it on a long list of current projects and INDOT tends to prioritize bicycle & pedestrian funding very low on their priority list.

According to America Bikes:

Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School and the Recreation Trails Program are all lumped together into a smaller funding pot that is shared with some wetland mitigation banking uses for NEPA compliance AND road uses such as redesigning roads, HOV lanes, etc.

This bill does not address safety concerns, and it includes performance measures that look at project results versus network or system-wide effects. This will make it harder for bicycle and pedestrian projects to compete for CMAQ (Congestion Management Air Quality) money.

This bill also keeps the name of Transportation Enhancements (TE) (which America Bikes would prefer to change) and broadens the use of enhancements to include new and expensive uses. In addition, it puts all of TE into a pot with the inspiring title of "Additional Activities."

In summary it's a triple whammy for biking and walking:

  • Less money
  • More competition
  • It's all optional

On Wednesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) will "mark up" the bill. Usually, this would give a chance for members of the committee to offer amendments to improve the bill, and those amendments would be debated and voted on. Usually, America Bikes would be doing alerts asking committee members to vote for an amendment to fix dedicated funding for biking and walking. However, Wednesday's committee mark-up is a sham.

The "Big 4" - Senators Boxer (D-CA), Inhofe (R-OK), Baucus (D-MT) and Vitter (R-LA) - have stated they will vote together as a bloc to stop any amendment on either side from passing. The best America Bikes can do is have amendments offered and withdrawn. America Bikes/League of American Bicyclists, etc, are working that process with their allies on EPW to at least share some possible solutions they see and voice our extreme disappointment and concern.

That is why it is so important that you call your senators and let them know how disappointed you are in the process. FYI, Senator Lugar has been sending letters to many of us talking about his support of the TE process for bicycling and walking but at last report he was supporting this current rendition which really destroys the impact of TE funding on bicycling and walking.

The link below will take you to the database with direct links to your senators contact information.