Federal Transportation Enhancement Funding Saved

The following news recently came from the League of American Bicyclists. It is activities like our attendance at the National Bike Summit* and ongoing advocacy and communication efforts with Missouri's congressional delegation that give groups like the Bike League influence over Congress and FHWA policy in these matters:

Andy Clarke’s Testimony Helps To Equal the Federal Rescissions Playing Field

Last May, League President, Andy Clarke testified before the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Chaired by Congressman Oberstar (D-MN) to accentuate the considerable role bicycling plays in combating climate change and promoting energy independence. During his testimony Clarke urged Congress to ensure that future rescissions of Federal Transportation Funds do not disproportionately affect bicycle and pedestrian funding sources such as the Transportation Enhancements program (TE). Under the leadership of Congressman Oberstar, a provision protecting TE funds from future rescissions was incorporated into H.R. 6, The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (Section 1132)

On Thursday, March 6, 2008, the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) ordered states to return $3.15 billion in transportation funds. Although this is not the first time that USDOT has issued such notices, historically the resulting effect has been that Transportation Enhancement Funds (TE) have been disproportionately targeted by many states, it is important to note that this time states will be required to limit the amount they can cut from their TE program.

According to research provided by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) the new legislative provision that cuts must be fair and balanced across programs could potentially save $100 - $200 million nationally to spend on trails, bicycling and other valuable non-motorized projects. This is good news and we all should keep a vigilant eye out to make sure that every State Department of Transportation adheres to the new provision.

By way of background, over the past several years, the USDOT has used the rescission process to accommodate changed priorities, offsetting new spending with cancellations of federal transportation funding previously made available to the states.

*Many thanks to all those groups and individuals who attended the National Bike Summit this year, giving Missouri its largest delegation ever in Washington.