Yesterday, the House Bonding Committee held a public hearing on H.3763, also known as the Transportation Bond Bill. This bill is one of the intermediate steps in securing more funding for transportation infrastructure, including bicycling and walking facilities. Back in April and May, there was a major push to increase the amount of funding the state dedicates to transportation. Now the state needs the Legislature to give it the authority to issue bonds to actually fund building roads, bridges, transit stations, multi-use paths, and everything else.
The good news is that the Governor’s proposal includes almost $430 million for bike/ped infrastructure is in the bond bill. The bad news is that even if this allocation in the bond bill survives the legislative process, the funding is not “real” until it is included in the budget. Nonetheless, we are working hard to make sure that this provision makes it to that next step. To that end, MassBike Executive Director David Watson testified:
- We strongly support the $429,755,000 allocated for multi-use paths. While this is a significant number, it is important to keep it in perspective in this $12 billion bond bill. According to MassDOT’s 2012 Household Travel Survey, biking and walking represent over 20% of all trips in Massachusetts, yet have historically received less than 1% of transportation funding. The allocation in the bond bill is still far less than a fair share based on mode share, but would fund dozens of much-needed off-road connections. Making this investment in biking and walking infrastructure is completely consistent with the statewide Mode Shift goal to triple the share of biking, walking, and transit by 2030, by providing more opportunities for people to safely and conveniently choose to bike or walk.
- MassBike works with dozens of communities statewide through our Bikeable Communities Program, largely in partnership with the Department of Public Health’s Mass in Motion Program. These communities, many of which are Gateway Cities facing serious health and economic disparities, need and want the economic, health, environmental, and other benefits that come with investment in biking and walking infrastructure.
- An additional $50,000,000 should be allocated to fund the Active Streets bill. We have great statewide design standards and policies that require Complete Streets in MassDOT-funded projects. But those standards and policies do not apply to local projects. The Active Streets bill would create a financial incentive for communities to choose to embed these principles in their day-to-day road work and actually implement Complete Streets.
When we get to the budget debate, we may need your help to push our legislators to fully fund biking and walking, so stay tuned for an Action Alert. In the meantime, we will continue working with other organizations and our legislative partners to make sure biking and walking are an important part of the funding discussion.