• Government Gibberish, or, In Praise of Bureaucrats

    by  • September 9, 2011 • Federal Funding, Walkable Bikeable Delaware • 4 Comments

    (Poster’s note: The decision last July by DelDOT to protect federal CMAQ program money from recission appears even more notable in the wake of the later decision to use federal CMAQ funds for the first time for a bike project in Delaware.)

    Bike-Eligible Federal Program Money Protected By DelDOT

    CMAQ. STP. FHWA. Rescission.

    Still reading?
    OK, if you can tolerate the mysterious government acronyms, this story is the government equivalent of one of those heartwarming Reader’s Digest stories. It’s a story about folks in Delaware state government doing their jobs well and protecting the public interest.
    Back on July 1, the League of American Bicyclists and the Alliance for Biking and Walking both sent out one of those depressingly frequent Calls For Action! that seem never ending:
    As the Alliance noted

    “Yesterday [June 30], the Federal Highway Administration informed state Departments of Transportation of another rescission of funds, this time totaling $2.5 billion…States are given maximum flexibility about the source of the funds that are rescinded – from the following programs: Interstate Maintenance, National Highway System, Highway Bridge, Transportation Enhancements, Surface Transportation Program, Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement, Recreational Trails, Metropolitan Planning, State Planning and Research, and Equity Bonus…States have to respond by July 8. Yes, that’s right: one week from today…By now you all know the drill. Transportation Enhancement and Congestion Mitigation Air Quality funds have consistently been inequitably targeted for rescissions in most states…”

    These “rescission” (take back) demands come every year from the federal government but this year was different. Why? Because the day before the FHWA made its demand, the 146th Delaware General Assembly did something it had never done before. It voted a completely unprecedented $5,000,000 for state bike routes. With $5,000,000 in state money for bicycling, suddenly Delaware was in a position to access federal funds from two bike-eligible federal programs, CMAQ and STP.
    In the first week of July, Bike Delaware made the argument to state decisionmakers that the action of the General Assembly had altered the landscape in Delaware and that CMAQ and STP should be protected from disproportionate recissions. In fact, we argued, these programs should be protected from recissions completely, so that those federal program dollars would be available to leverage the state bike route money voted by the General Assembly.
    Last week, the FHWA released the state-by-state recission numbers. Result?
    Delaware 2011 Rescission of federal CMAQ dollars: $0
    Delaware 2011 Rescission of federal STP dollars: $0
    “Bureaucrat” is the word people often choose when they want to imply something negative about either the motives or competence (or both) of people who work in government. This week, however, we rise to salute those Delaware “bureaucrats” who, responding to the will of the General Assembly, moved quickly to protect bike-eligible federal funds last month. We’re not completely certain who they are, but they showed quick thinking and good judgement. We are lucky to have them in Delaware.


    James Wilson is the executive director of Bike Delaware. He is a member of the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (by whom he was named the 2014 Professional of the Year, Nonprofit Sector), the Institute of Transportation Engineers and the Delaware Bicycle Council. He is the co-chair of the policy committee of the Advisory Council on Walkability and Pedestrian Awareness and serves on the board of directors of the Delaware Valley Smart Growth Alliance. He holds engineering degrees from Yale University and the University of Texas at Austin and is the only registered lobbyist for cycling and walking in Delaware. He helped create, and continues to lead Bike Delaware's participation in, the Walkable Bikeable Delaware campaign. During his tenure as Bike Delaware's executive director, Delaware advanced in the national Bicycle Friendly State rankings for five years in a row, farther and faster than any other state, ever.

    4 Responses to Government Gibberish, or, In Praise of Bureaucrats

    1. Anonymous
      August 22, 2011 at 12:58 am

      Don't forget the $0 for rec trails also.

      It looks like the growing partnership between Markell's new young Secretaries of DNREC and DelDOT is already producing real results.

    2. Darren Flusche
      August 22, 2011 at 5:32 pm

      Congrats, James!

    3. hire a website developer
      August 25, 2011 at 12:49 am

      Its an great stuff to have government involved in such activities.

    4. khassler@udel.edu
      September 2, 2011 at 12:03 pm


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