Thursday, June 28
After 20 years of being the main funding source for walking and bicycling in America, the United States Senate may vote as early as this evening to kill Transportation Enhancements.
“These drastic cuts to biking and walking funding do not save the federal government any money,” said Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists. “Rather, it keeps current levels of funding and directs funds away from street safety projects. Moreover, it’s ironic that Congress is calling this a jobs bill. Biking and walking infrastructure projects create 46 percent more jobs per federal dollar than traditional road projects, yet this bill attempts to reduce the number of such projects across the country.”
The language of the bill that House and Senate conferees agreed on in closed-door negotiations was only released this morning. Nevertheless, the Senate is expected to vote on the 599 page bill just hours after the language of the bill was made available to them.
Since 1992, Transportation Enhancements has sent over $13 billion to the states for over 27,000 separate projects. Bicycle and pedestrian facilities, including rail-trails and bike/ped safety programs, comprised 58% of programmed funds between FY 1992 and FY 2011, while landscaping and scenic beautification received 19% and historic preservation and rehabilitation of historic transportation facilities received 13% of TE funds.
Short of an earthquake, the U.S. Congress will effectively kill Transportation Enhancements in the next day or two because of a backroom negotiation between Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Representative John Mica (R-FL).
Poster’s note: The money that walking/cycling in Delaware will lose as a result of the federal legislation released today by House and Senate conferees is only about 1 or 2 million dollars. “Transportation Enhancements” – the federal program that will be gutted by this new law – has always been a very tiny program. Meanwhile, in 48 hours the Delaware General Assembly will vote on a bill that dedicates $13.3 million for walking and bicycling. So here in Delaware we won’t even notice the loss of Transportation Enhancements (though most other states will feel the loss keenly of course). But it is painfully ironic that, just as Delaware is about to make a serious investment in a genuinely multimodal transportation system, in Washington DC Senator Boxer (D-CA), Rep. Mica (R-FL) and their colleagues are turning America 180° in the opposite direction.