Dedicated federal funding for biking and walking has been under assault this year in Congress. Some Republican lawmakers have tried to eliminate the Transportation Enhancements (TE) program, the Safe Routes to Schools program, and the Recreational Trails program from the transportation reauthorization bill ( HR 7). The TE program has funded the extremely useful Bethesda Trolley Trail bridges and the Rock Creek Trail bridge over Veirs Mill Rd. Without this money many states would drastically cut bike/ped projects. James Inhofe (R-OK), the lead Republican negotiator on the bill, declared that one of his top priorities for the transportation bill is to eliminate “frivolous spending for bike trails.”
But things are looking up! The Senate has accepted the Cardin-Cochran Amendment to its version of the transportation bill (MAP-21). That amendment restores much of the funding for biking and walking programs. It looks like the House will vote on the Senate transportation bill instead of bringing the House bill HR 7 to the floor.
Here’s how funding would work under the amended Senate bill, according to America Bikes:
The Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School and Recreational Trails programs are consolidated into a new program called Additional Activities. State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) will make their Additional Activities funding available to metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and local governments.
Even Senator Inhofe has accepted the amendment.
But stay tuned. There’s a lot of maneuvering going on, and we’re not out of the woods yet.
We all need to thank Maryland’s Senator Ben Cardin for making this possible (he is running for reelection in April & November). It’s no coincidence that Maryland leads the way on this, thanks in part to our letters and phone calls. Note that his nephew is Jon Cardin, a staunch supporter of bicycling in the Maryland General Assembly.