Monday, March 14, 2011

FDOT contender: Bike work should wait

Updated March 16
One of three finalists to be Florida's next secretary of transportation testified today
Anath Prasad
that in tough times no federal money should be spent on sidewalks or bicycle facilities.  He was Anath Prasad, assistant secretary for engineering and operations in the Florida Department of Transportation, and the highest-ranking Florida witness at U.S. Rep. John Mica's Orlando-area hearing on reauthorization of the nation's highway and transit programs. Here's what he said:
Over the years, Congress has asked state departments of transportation to do more things with fewer resources. With the downturn in the economy, it is time to tighten our belts and focus on what we do best. This is exactly what we’re doing here in Florida. Instead of funding more than 100 individual programs in the next transportation bill, we should focus on a few core programs which will grow our economy. We must give serious consideration to whether -—when resources and dollars are at a premium —- spending money on sidewalks, bike trails, beautification, and other projects like this is the most prudent use of taxpayer money.
This is pretty depressing. It's not like the 1.5 percent of the transportation budget currently going to bike-pedestrian matters would build even one mile of interstate highway.

Nobody from the general public got to testify today.  Besides Prasad, the invited witnesses included Frank Bruno, Volusia County Commission chairman; Bob Burleson, president of the Florida Transportation Builders Association; Randy Whitfield, staff director of the Palm Beach Metropolitan Planning Organization; Geoffrey Yarema, a partner in the law firm Nossaman Guthner Knox Elliot; and Richard P. Lawless, president of U.S.-Japan High-Speed Rail.

Here's more about the hearing, from the Orlando Sentinel. And here is Prasad's full written testimony.


Eddie Suarez - Kpeste99 said...

this seems like the opposite if what you'd want to do. With tough times come less jobs. Less job, means less money, means people either lose their cars or can't afford to drive them so their options are public transit, cycling, or walking. Why wouldn't you want to expand the pedestrian/cycling/transit network when it's most needed?

Anonymous said...

I agree. This is precisely the time to build alternative transportation infrastructure. Besides giving the public safe walking and biking routes, it is providing jobs in the community. From what I understand, the money is mandated to be spent this way.