More than 70 national organizations united today to urge members of Congress to preserve control over biking and walking projects in the federal transportation bill.
In a new sign-on letter to transportation bill conferees, the League and dozens of other groups asked members of Congress to support the Cardin-Cochran agreement, a bipartisan compromise that would give local governments and school systems access to a small amount of federal transportation funds for projects like sidewalks and bikeways.
While members of Congress may be debating the issue, most Americans overwhelming support these popular projects. A Princeton survey recently found that 83 percent of Americans want Congress to increase or maintain federal funding for sidewalks, crosswalks, and bikeways, including 80 percent of surveyed Republicans and 88 percent of Democrats.
Here’s what the League, AARP, National Council of La Raza, American Heart Association, and others urged the transportation conferees today:
Dear Members of the Conference Committee on Surface Transportation Reauthorization:
As you move forward conferring on the transportation bill, the 70 undersigned national organizations respectfully urge you to maintain the Cardin-Cochran agreement from MAP-21 in the conference report.
Our organizations care about a diverse range of issues—transportation, safety, accessibility, economic competitiveness, historic preservation, health and obesity. And we are united in asking you to ensure that local governments have flexibility and funding certainty to address these issues by making available to them a small portion of federal transportation dollars.
MAP-21 directs a percentage of funds under the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) program for “Additional Activities.” This program includes Transportation Enhancements with expanded eligibility for environmental mitigation, Safe Routes to School, and some road and other uses. These programs have traditionally been invested in a variety of smaller-scale, local transportation projects such as building sidewalks, bikeways and other improvements that make downtowns economically competitive and safe for families and pedestrians of all ages.
The Cardin-Cochran agreement is a bipartisan compromise that gives local governments a voice in transportation planning through sub-allocation and grant competitions. It gives local governments—those closest to the needs of their constituents and communities—an opportunity to weigh in on how states spend their Additional Activities federal transportation dollars. The compromise does not change the underlying Additional Activities program or the new eligibilities.
Americans want more biking and walking projects in their communities—rural, suburban, and urban—to provide healthy and safe transportation choices, improve air quality, create jobs and stimulate economic competitiveness in their downtowns. A national poll conducted in March 2012 by the Princeton Survey Research Associates showed that 83 percent of all Americans, including 88 percent of Democrats and 80 percent of Republicans, support maintaining or increasing federal investments in biking and walking.
Maintaining local access to this small portion of the transportation bill by retaining the Cardin-Cochran agreement is critical to ensuring that cities and counties of all sizes have a voice in addressing the needs of their constituents. We appreciate your consideration and urge your support for the Cardin-Cochran agreement.
Carolyn SzczepanskiCarolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.