Posts Tagged ‘senator’
Late on Friday, November 4, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) published its proposal for the next federal transportation bill, called MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century). The 600-page bill will be marked-up in committee on Wednesday, November 9. The proposed legislation makes significant changes to the core, dedicated funding programs for bicycling and walking activities.
- The current dedicated funding programs for bicycling and walking (Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School and the Recreational Trails program) are combined into one program, with significantly less funding.
- An expanded list of eligible activities are added to this smaller funding pot, including such big-ticket items as NEPA compliance and land acquisition for wetland mitigation.
- The proposed bill effectively allows states to completely opt out of the program and would allow all this money to be redirected to highway construction.
Originally, the bill also lumped highway and street construction projects, including high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, as part of the expanded eligible activities. On Tuesday, Senator Boxer received bipartisan support for an amendment that will remove all but one of the road uses (NEPA & wetlands). While this is a positive step, there is still a lot of work to do. The America Bikes Coalition hopes to continue to make changes by working with Boxer and EPW staff to restore dedicated funding in the bill.
Federal funding for trails and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure was under assault in the month of September. Senator Tom Coburn R-OK) introduced an amendment that would eliminate funding for the Transportation Enhancements (TE) program in the proposed six-month extension of the Federal Surface and Air Transportation bill. The TE program is the nation’s largest funding source for biking and walking infrastructure.
Fortunately, a national advocacy effort reached out to Senators from across the country and helped build support for the TE program which has existed successfully for over 20 years. Eventually, Coburn conceded, but not without creating misconceptions about how much is dedicated to the program (he said 10%; actual is 1.5%) and what the program funds (he claims bike trails and museums while TE supports a vast number of projects that support alternative transportation). Click for the Good News
A grant application to fund a $75,000 feasibility study was submitted to MDOT by city staff in May and MDOT proceeded to rank the grant and forward it on to FHWA. Unfortunately, MDOT didn’t rank the grant request at the highest possible ranking so we are asking for a show of public support. See the Missoula-Lolo Trail Alliance web site for more information about this project.
Call to Action:
Please send a letter in support of The Missoula to Lolo Bicycle Pedestrian Trail Discretionary Grant for a Feasibility Study to:
Federal Lands Highways Program Coordinator
FHWA, Office of Federal Lands Highway
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
In your letter or email to Cindi Ptak, please use your own language as it is more powerful. Please copy Representative Rehberg, Senator Baucus, and Senator Tester, and Jim Skinner at Montana Department of Transportation. Below is a list of talking points to help with your communication.
- The Missoula to Lolo Trail connects Missoula to the 45 mile long Bitterroot Trail providing access to federal and state recreation areas
- The trail increases the safety of the Missoula -Lolo Highway 93 corridor by eliminating bike/pedestrian conflicts with motor vehicles
- The trail will increases economic growth for businesses along the Bitterroot Trail System
- The trail will enhance livability by providing a place for families and children to recreate and by providing an alternate transportation corridor
- The trail is used by hundreds of cyclists every year as part of two national bicycle routes: Trans America Bicycle Trail and the Lewis and Clark Bicycle Trail.
E-mails and addresses:
Senator Max Baucus
511 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Senator Jon Tester
724 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Congressman Denis Rehberg
2448 Rayburn House Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
P.O. Box 201001
Helena, Montana 59620
If you would like to be include on the Missoula-Lolo Trail Alliance e-mail list e-mail Jean Belangie-Nye