Bipartisan support of funding for trails, walking and bicycling
continues to grow in response to repeated legislative attacks on the
Transportation Enhancements (TE) program.
Today, by a vote of 60 to 38, the U.S. Senate rejected an
amendment by U.S. Senator Rand Paul (Ky.) that would have shifted dedicated funding
for walking and biking infrastructure to bridge repair, thus eliminating a hugely
popular program that has been shown to improve safety, create jobs and efficient transportation
choices for millions of Americans for the past 20 years.
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) and our partners argued
the amendment posed a false choice between TE and bridge safety, and we helped
organize a national sign-on letter to senators encouraging them to vote against
Paul’s Senate Amendment 821. (Read the original action alert and watch a video for more background on the issue.)
“In truth, most states already have funds that they could use for bridge repair, but that instead go for new roadways,”
says RTC’s Director of Policy Outreach Kartik Sribarra. “Further, last year,
states sent back $530 million in unspent bridge funds. It’s shameful and disingenuous to claim to be promoting safety by
pushing to cut funds for trails, walking and bicycling. 47,000 cyclists and
pedestrians have died during the past decade, often because we lack the
necessary infrastructure for them to be safe.”
TE funds have substantially decreased these risks, using
less than 2 percent of surface transportation funding.
“An honest prescription for accelerating bridge repair would
need to address either the overall level of investment in transportation
infrastructure, or the tendency to prioritize new road capacity over
maintenance of existing assets, or both,” Sribarra says.
Thank you to everyone who contacted your senators! It seems
like we face a new legislative attack on TE each week, but with your voices and
backing, we’re able to defend this tremendous program, the largest source of
funding for trails, walking and bicycling.
Where can we find how the individual Senators voted on this Senate Amendment 821?
The vote was 60-38 but we can find who voted for/against it!
I support funds dedicated to biking and walking trails, but Coburn's objections (coburn.senate.gov/.../index.cfm) are valid. Why is this money going to such ridiculous projects? Why is RTC not holding states who waste TE money on such frivolities to account? It seems like the better advocacy approach would be:
- find the state sponsors of these [pork] programs and show their wasteful spending to active constituent groups
- concentrate on state-level advocacy to get the TE funds committed to biking and walking trails.
Take away Coburn's correct assertions that the TE program, in fact, provides for wasteful and unnecessary spending at present by making sure all of goes to actual transportation needs.
I would also like to note that Coburn couldn't find an objection to DE's use of TE funds.
(I realize that this article mentions Paul, but I'm not going to waste my time to see which particular projects he opposes, I'm sure it is much like Coburn's list.)
Next time you are defending trails, don't forget that they provide a great way for communities to spend time outside exercising.
I ride a Rail-Trail to and from work everyday (20 miles total). No matter the time of day, or the state of the weather, I always see walkers (both human and canine), runners, cyclists, and skaters out there enjoying the fresh air and exercise. A Rail-Trail is a great way to enjoy the outdoors if you live in an urban area.
As a society, we should be promoting that. We have the highest health care costs in the world, and some of the worst outcomes in the industrialized world. Obesity and chronic disease are skyrocketing, along with our health care costs.
How can we ever hope to resolve our federal budget problems if we don't find a way to reduce health care costs by encouraging people to exercise and prevent/mitigate chronic disease. Exercise has the potential to help us address a range of health issues.
Supporting Rail-Trails can also help accomplish these other goals.
Is there a way to find out how our Senators voted?
Score one for the good guys!
Another great victory in maintaining TE funding and in paving our way to new bicycling paths via rails to trails!
It is indeed ALL GOOD!
Dear "rails-to-trails" organization:
Congratulations to all! We were again successful in keeping and defending the conservancy of our beloved and useful trails.
I live in Orange County, Southern California, where one of our best kept trails is the Santa Ana River Trail, which runs from the border with the Riverside County, all the way down to the beautiful ocean beaches of Huntington Beach,in Orange County.
The Santa Ana River trail, is the region is the longest recreational trail and parkway in our area. It is a 110-mile trail and bike-way corridor project, which will reach from Big Bear Lake, high in the San Bernardino Mountains, to the mouth of the Santa Ana River, at the Pacific Ocean, in the beautiful coast of Southern California.
The Santa Ana River trail passes through urban parkland and quiet willow forests in the Riverside County, and then, following the Santa Ana River banks, passes through some of the region’s most vital and important cities in Orange County, CA.
Starting way up in the San Bernardino Mountains, the trail is as varied as the region, passing along Riverside County's cities of Colton, Riverside, Norco, and Corona, then following the Santa Ana River banks, continues through Orange County's cities of Yorbalinda, Anaheim, Orange, Garden Grove, Santa Ana, Fountain Valley, Costamesa y Huntington Beach, ending under the Pacific Coast Highway bridge, on the hot sands and cool waters of the ocean beach. A long ride, indeed, but very rewarding!
I have enjoyed, for two decades, biking the Orange County's section of the trail in company of my two sons, since they were little boys. Wild life on the river stream is abundant, including storks, ducks, and a wide variety of birds. It's really relaxing and beautiful!
The Santa Ana River trail is used by commuters in Orange County's cities, to go to work every day of the week. It is a beautiful, healthy and efficient way to commute, helping us to protect our environment and supporting our green initiative effort. A lot better that streets and freeways!
For all this reasons I thank again "rails-to-trails",both members and organizers, for protecting the existence and future of our wonderful trails. Le's keep them this way!
George Frank Carrillo
Visit the Santa Ana River trail website (partial source), at: www.santaanarivertrail.org/.../interactive-map.html
How can you call this a bipartisan victory, when all but a handful of the Nay votes were from Democrats, and ALL the Yea votes came from Republicans?
Who are the 38 who voted for the bill ? My guess is that most of them are Republicans. Furthermore, I suspect that the bill was written by political hacks trying to make points with the right wing and caring little for the conditions of our bridges, much less for the improvement of alternate and clean transportation.
I haven't looked into the details of this filibuster and the source is quite partisan but it is laughable none the less if bridges were the real problem:
Date: Fri, 4 Nov 2011 10:22:37 -0400 (EDT)
From: Jason Rosenbaum <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: third time
BREAKING: For the third time in three weeks, Senate Republicans filibustered a bill to create jobs – this time through rebuilding America’s crumbling roads and bridges.
These lawmakers won’t lift a finger to put people back to work and get our economy moving again. Meanwhile, Republicans in the House found time to debate and pass a reaffirmation of “In God We Trust” as our national motto, which has been in place since 1956, was reaffirmed in 2002, and again in 2006.
As President Obama said, “I trust in God, but God wants to see us help ourselves by putting people back to work.”
If you agree that Republicans should stop playing politics with our economy and help people get back to work, please sign our petition. We’re looking for 100,000 people to take a stand for jobs and America’s middle class.
We’re going to keep calling Republicans out for their stubborn refusal to do anything to get our economy moving again. Thanks for your help.
DSCC Director of Online Communications
(Link from paragraph 5: dscc.org/.../track.jsp)
All, thank you so much for reading and responding. It's great to see a topic like this gaining so much attention, and to know that you all have such a vested interest in the Transportation Enhancements (TE) program. I appreciate the time you all took to reply, the kind words and the local stories.
To Brian Vargo: thanks for your thoughts. The TE program has funded over 25,000 projects since 1992. Senator Coburn has pointed a finger at 39 of them.
Further investigation by the Federal Highway Administration has revealed that several of projects from Senator Coburn’s list are not real projects; they were project proposals that were appropriately rejected and that have simply remained on the national TE Project List at www.enhancements.org through oversight.
That said, some of them are real projects, like the Los Angeles Chinatown Gateway and the Lake Jackson Ecopassage. However, as the New York Times reported about the turtle tunnel, one person’s boondoggle is another person's necessity. That project was necessitated for safety, since large turtles were causing traffic accidents. Each of these projects represents a local priority, and it will always be easy for senators to criticize other people’s choices from thousands of miles away, without learning their real stories.
As a national organization, our focus is on protecting TE funds at the federal level to ensure the continued existence of the program. One of the great strengths of the program is its flexibility, which has for decades enabled it to thrive--including for its walking and bicycling projects--despite numerous attacks.
We strongly support our state and local partners who seek funding for biking and walking trails from the program. Such efforts are quite successful: Well over 50 percent of TE funds nationwide currently go to projects that improve conditions for bicycling and walking.
Here is the link detailing the individual votes on Amendment 821.
Those of us who use trails regularly are aware of their value. It might mean a shorter commute to work
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