The federal government is asking states to return a record $3.47 billion in transportation funding, and two groups that advocate for bicycles and trails want to make sure that funding for bike facilities aren't hit the hardest.
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (they've assisted with 13,000 miles of rail-to-trail projects) and Thunderhead Alliance (bicycle and pedestrian advocacy groups) sent out alerts regarding the federal rescission order from the US Department of Transportation.
States can choose what programs they want to cut, the groups warn, and as the states often protect their highway programs, they cut from funds that support bicycling and pedestrian projects.
Funding for things like bike paths are included in Transportation Enhancement programs, and they take a big hit when these rescission orders come out of Washington DC. Check out the National Transportation Enhancement Clearinghouse to see how these funds are spent.
Thunderhead Alliance says that last year:
“Programs that fund bicycling and walking were targeted at a far greater percent than highway programs during the FY’06 rescissions, even though these programs represent a minor percentage of the apportioned funds.”
According to Rails-to-Trails, five states — Idaho, Oregon, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Texas — returned several years' worth of transportation enhancement funding in 2006. Six other states — Nebraska, New Mexico, Arkansas, Louisiana, Ohio and Connecticut — returned one to two year's worth of Transportation Enhancement funding last year.
Other programs that can be cut, according to Thunderhead, include Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement programs.
What Transportation Enhancements projects have been built in your area?
The Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse has a searchable database for projects in 50 states that have been funded by the enhancements. I searched the state of Washington and found hundreds of bike and bike projects, such as $900,000 for interim improvements to the East Lake Sammamish Parkway in King County, pictured above.
How much money will my state have to return?
I located an legislative alert online that lists the estimated amount that each state will have to return to the feds. It runs from a high of $308 million in California to $14 million in both DC and Delaware. It's up to the discretion of each state what transportation programs will be affected.
What can you do?
Thunderhead and Rails-to-Trails are asking that trail users and other advocates contact their state DOT officials and governor's offices to ensure that bicycling and pedestrian programs don't take the biggest hit this year.
Follow the “urgent” notice on the Rails-to-Trails main webpage for help on writing a letter to your governor.
See also WashCycle blog.