Just one month ago, the bicycling community stood together and defeated Senator Coburn’s (R-OK) effort to strip funding for Transportation Enhancements (a major source of funding for biking and walking projects) from the six-month extension that was passed at the last minute to prevent the shutdown of all federally-funded transportation programs.
Now, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is taking the lead in trying to destroy Transportation Enhancements. On November 1, the Senate will finalize the transportation appropriations bill, which sets funding levels for FY2012. Sen. Paul has offered an amendment to redirect all funding for Transportation Enhancements to bridge repair.
We must turn back any amendment to strip Transportation Enhancements. Here is how you can help:
1. Call and/or email Senator Kerry and Senator Brown to ask them to vote against the Paul amendment (SA-821) to eliminate Transportation Enhancements.
- Senator John Kerry: (202) 224-2742, Email (select “Transportation” as Topic)
- Senator Scott Brown: (202) 224-4543, Email (select “Transportation” as Topic)
Key Talking Points:
- Attacks on Transportation Enhancements are a political stunt, not a solution to our transportation problems
- Shifting every dollar of Transportation Enhancements to bridge repair would be ineffective – it would still take 80 years to repair all the bridges
- And doing so would eliminate popular and effective programs right now that are saving thousands of bicyclist and pedestrian lives, combating obesity, protecting our environment, and creating economic opportunities
- States returned $530 million in unspent bridge repair funds back to Washington last year – that money should be used before cutting other programs
- Funding for biking and walking should be part of the overall debate of long-term transportation funding starting November 9
Don’t have time to write your own email? Click here to send a pre-written email message to both Senators.
2. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know you contacted them!
Every single call or email matters, so please act today! Read below for even more detail.
We agree on the need to keep our bridges safe, but the lives of pedestrians and cyclists are important too. Thirteen people died when the Minneapolis bridge collapsed in 2007. Since then, close to 20,000 pedestrians and 2,800 cyclists have died on our nation’s highways, largely as a result of poor highway design and a lack of safe non-motorized infrastructure – exactly what the Enhancements program was created to fix.
If Sen. Paul’s amendment is successful, it would eliminate approximately $700 million in federal funding for FY2012 that is used to construct sidewalks, bike lanes, bike paths, trails and other infrastructure that makes it safe for bicyclists and pedestrians to get around. Even if every penny of these funds is diverted to bridge repairs, Senator Paul’s plan will still take 80 years to fix the backlog of bridge repairs we have today.
Even though TE represents less than 2% of federal transportation funding, it has built about $100 million in projects in Massachusetts since 1992, and the Safe Routes to School program has provided millions more to help thousands of MA children bike or walk to school. These programs help alleviate traffic congestion, improve safety, get people active, and and create more jobs per dollar than highway-only projects. We cannot allow Transportation Enhancements to fall victim to partisan political grandstanding. If we cannot save Transportation Enhancements, then Safe Routes to School, the Recreational Trails Program, and other vital sources of funding for biking and walking will not be far behind.
Last year, states sent back to Washington $530 million of unspent bridge funds in rescissions. The states are leaving bridge repair funds on the table, unspent, year after year. They should at least spend these funds first.
If the Paul amendment succeeds, it will make it much more challenging to sustain funding for Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School, and Recreational Trails in the long-term transportation bill that the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee starts debating on November 9.