Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sqeeze coming on road and trail money

The blogger James Bacon, who specializes in the planning and politics of transportation, returned from a Washington visit with word that the federal Transportation Trust Fund, supplied by motor fuel taxes, is running low on cash. Bacon says we should expect a tighter hand on grants to be visible soon. And as my readers know, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has already been asking states to turn back unspent dollars.

This should matter to bicyclists because many of the bike lanes, trails and greenways currently being planned are "transportation enhancements" that were to be paid for, partly or entirely, with DOT grants. So what do we do about it?
  • Be alert that bike and pedestrian facilities aren't the first thing cut by state and local authorities.
  • Insist that any path or trail funding that is rescinded be proportionate to cuts on the highway side of things.
  • Make it our business to see that facilities are prudently planned and built -- which may mean leaving landscaping and other beautification until later.
  • Miss no opportunity to point out the energy-saving aspect of bicycle transportation. After all, one reason the feds expect gasoline tax receipts to decrease is that there are finally signs that the cost of fuel is causing people to drive less.
Want to read Bacon's whole piece? It's at Bacon's Rebellion.

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