In a press conference this morning, John Mica (R-FL), chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the House, announced his proposal for the next surface transportation re-authorization bill. He said the proposal would cost $230 billion over six years — a reduction of 33 percent from the last 6 year bill. (Update: 22 page outline now online.) That’s fine — the alarming thing is that the proposal eliminates dedicated funding for bicycling and walking, including Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School and the Recreational Trails Program, and discourages states from choosing to spend their dollars on these activities that are “not in the federal interest.”
Meanwhile on the Senate side, James Inhofe (R-OK), the lead Republican negotiator on the transportation bill, declared that one of his TOP THREE priorities for the transportation bill is to eliminate ‘frivolous spending for bike trails.’
The League and the America Bikes Coalition have launched a critical advocacy alert. Please contact your Members of Congress and tell them to reach out to Senators Inhofe, Boxer, and Congressman Mica to urge them to continue funding for Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School and Recreational Trails.
League President Andy Clarke blasted the draft bill in a press release today saying:
Whether the next transportation bill is $200 billion or $400 billion is frankly less important than what is done with that kind of investment. Mica’s ‘New Direction’ proposal in fact turns the clock back on decades of hard-fought progress towards a truly multi-modal transportation system that offers American’s real choices. Even with a ‘small’ bill, returning to a 1950′s highways-only mentality flies in the face of fiscal responsibility by guaranteeing more single occupant vehicle travel on ever more congested and dangerous highways that we can’t even afford to maintain, let alone build.
The League calls on Chairman Mica to reinstate dedicated funding for bicycling and walking in his bill. We also ask that the Senate resist the efforts of Senator Inhofe eliminate dedicated funding for bicycling and walking. In addition to being healthy activities, bicycling and walking are valid transportation options, with more than four billion bike trips made annually for trips to work, school, and tourism. Furthermore bicycling and walking projects have the potential to create 46 percent more jobs per million dollars spent than auto-only projects; and bicycling and walking are critical generators of economic activity in communities across this country. Now is the time to be investing in these modes, not cutting them off just as 20 years of investment is starting to bear fruit.
Please join us in this effort. Contact your Members of Congress today!
League Policy Director
Flusche joined the League in April 2009 and has a B.A. in history from Syracuse University and a Masters of Public Administration with a concentration in public policy analysis from New York University.