Nov 082011

Gaithersburg bike advocate Alan Migdall wrote a great letter in the Washington Post supporting the federal Transportation Enhancements (TE)  program.    This vital program provides money to  states for new bike paths, pedestrian facilities, historical preservation,  etc.    The text of Alan’s letter:

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) opposes using a small portion of transportation funding for pedestrian and bicycle projects [news story, Oct. 25 ]. He was quoted: “I know priorities are in the eye of the beholder, but what we lack is common sense.”  Given that 14 percent of all traffic fatalities are pedestrians and cyclists and that states often underfund sidewalks and bike lanes, one would think that spending at least 1 or 2 percent of transportation funding on “enhancements” that address such a problem would be common sense, especially to someone trained, as Coburn is, as a doctor.

The fund has come under serious attack in the Republican-held House of Representatives, as noted in the Post article  referenced by Alan’s letter.    The latest ominous news is that multiple sources of funding for bike/pedestrian projects are at risk.

Each state chooses the projects to be undertaken and allocates the federal TE money accordingly.   Maryland’s implementation of the program requires that local jurisdictions requesting TE funds for a given project provide matching funds to cover 50% of the project cost.  The fund has been used in Maryland to build the Bethesda Trolley Trail bridges over I-270 and I-495 and the Rock Creek Trail bridge over Veirs Mill Rd.

Honestly I think TE funding should only cover projects related to transportation, i.e. bike and pedestrian projects, not historic preservation and the other stuff.   That would leave the program less susceptible to attack too.

Jack Cochrane
Chair, Montgomery Bicycle Advocates (MoBike)

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