Time to thank MoDOT: Unlike many other states, MoDOT protected bike/ped funding in recent rescissions

MoDOT employee at the Tour of Missouri
MoDOT employee at the Tour of Missouri
Earlier this year, the federal government asked state DOTs to return a portion of their unspent funds.  This process, called a rescission, is a common occurrence in federal budget procedure.

Historically, rescissions have been a huge problem for bicycle and pedestrian funding.

This is because state DOTs have a lot of leeway as to which funds they return in the rescission.  So, for instance, a state DOT which is hostile to spending funds on bicycle and pedestrian projects can simply delay spending those funds and then return them disproportionately when the feds ask for a rescission.

In fact, this is exactly what happened this summer in a large number of states.  Transportation Enhancements (TE) funding, a primary source of bicycle & pedestrian funding, represents less than 10% of the total budget but represented over 25% of rescissions.

The League of American Bicyclists reports the results for both TE and Congestion Mitigation/Air Quality (CMAQ) programs:

CMAQ, an important source of bicycle and pedestrian funding (see our Advocacy Advance report), was hit hard: states rescinded $388 million from CMAQ. One hundred and sixteen million dollars are now gone from statewide planning and research.

One quarter of the rescissions – over half a billion dollars – came from the TE program.  The Rails to Trails Conservancy has identified 28 states that rescinded way more than a fair and proportional amount from Transportation Enhancements: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin. If you live in these states, you can send an alert to your governor asking that TE is spent quickly and not unfairly rescinded in the future. Some states are really dramatic. All of Nebraska’s rescissions came from TE. So did 78 percent of Texas’ and 54% of Arkansas’. Stunningly, the cuts in Texas were in addition to $300 million returned in a recent previous rescission.

The good new for Missouri: Thanks to our efforts to raise the profile of bicycle and pedestrian transportation in Missouri, and a timely letter from the Rails to Trails Conservancy to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, MoDOT treated bicycle and pedestrian funding fairly this time around.

As far as we know, this is the first time MoDOT has made rescissions in TE and CMAQ funds in proportion to their respective budgets, the fairest way to treat the issue.  In the past, MoDOT has made rescissions in proportion to unobligated funds--which for various technical reasons, are always higher for the TE and CMAQ programs.

Now would be a good time to write a brief note of thanks to MoDOT and to Governor Nixon:

  • MoDOT online contact page (or call 1-888-ASK-MODOT)
  • Governor Nixon online contact page (or call 573-751-3222)
  • Suggested message: Thanks to MoDOT for treating bicycle and pedestrian funding fairly in the recent rescission of federal transportation funding. Please continue to treat bicycle and pedestrian funding fairly in the future.