Posts Tagged ‘Transportation Enhancements’

House transportation bill: a disaster for biking and walking

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Since 1993, biking and walking transportation have been better supported with each new transportation bill: Safe Routes to School, Transportation Enhancements, Bike/Pedestrian coordinators at the state DOT’s, and more.

That’s could end soon.

Today the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee voted on a new federal transportation bill — an 800-page bill that none of the legislators admitted to reading since its release just two days prior.

Current U.S. DOT Transportation Secretary and form Republican congressman Ray LaHood told Politico:

“This is the most partisan transportation bill that I have ever seen. And it also is the most anti-safety bill I have ever seen. It hollows out our No. 1 priority, which is safety, and frankly, it hollows out the guts of the transportation efforts that we’ve been about for the last three years. It’s the worst transportation bill I’ve ever seen during 35 years of public service.”

Oregon’s Representative Peter DeFazio called it “a transportation bill with an ideological wish list – drafted with Big Oil companies in mind – that will prevent Congress from passing a measure that could provide real transportation improvements.”

The League of American Bicyclists have put together this top 10 list of problems. For example, rail trails could not be funded by Transportation Enhancement dollars. The Dequindre Cut, Clinton River Trail, Macomb Orchard Trail, and other area rail-trail projects were largely built with Transportation Enhancement dollars.

A bipartisan amendment was introduced to restore dedicated biking and walking funding. It failed to pass, 27 to 29.

Michigan Congresswoman Candice Miller, a longtime support of the Macomb Orchard Trail, voted against the amendment.

What’s next? According to this America Bikes timeline, the bill should hit the House around the week of February 13th.

Meanwhile the Senate is working on its own version of the transportation bill which not only maintains current biking and walking funding, it has some level of bi-partisan support.

Tomorrow the House Republican leadership has proposed killing dedicated public transit funding.

 

Act now! House transportation bill a “total disaster” for biking, walking and trails

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

From Rails-to-Trails Conservancy:

We aren’t exaggerating when we say this ask has never been more urgent.

Please read more and take action now. We have until 4 p.m. EST today to have our thoughts heard.

Tomorrow, Thursday, February 2, the Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives will be voting on our nation’s next multiyear surface transportation bill.

There’s no way to spin this: From the perspective of trails, walking and bicycling, the bill is a total disaster.

Among its worst features are:

  • It eliminates dedicated funding for the Transportation Enhancements (TE) program?the nation’s largest funding source for trails, walking and bicycling. (Terrible news, but we expected it.)
  • It removes the rail-trail category from TE eligibility.
  • It completely eliminates funding for the Safe Routes to School program.
  • It eliminates funding for bicycle and pedestrian coordinators at state DOTs.

But there’s still a chance…

Representatives Tom Petri (R-Wis.) and Tim Johnson (R-Ill.) are considering the introduction of an amendment in the committee that would right many of the bill’s wrongs.

But they need to hear from other committee members that their amendment has a fighting chance.

Please: Take two minutes and ask your representatives to defend trails, walking and bicycling. We only have until 4 p.m. EST today, so any additional support you’re able to gather will make an enormous difference!

Thank you,

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

More on the West Bloomfield Trail extension

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

We mentioned a couple weeks ago that West Bloomfield had received Transportation Enhancement funding through the Road Commission for Oakland County.

The Spinal Column has more exciting details:

“We’re going to put a new limestone surface on top of the ballast similar to the existing trail, and have a safe road crossing at Arrowhead, Halsted and Walnut Lake,” said West Bloomfield Parks and Recreation Director Dan Navarre. “There will be 400 feet of boardwalk north of Walnut Lake over a wetland area and a pergola area with benches.”

There will be benches installed every quarter-mile and two overlooks with benches – one at Woodpecker Lake between Arrowhead and Halsted Road, and another over a large wetland area west of Halsted.

A small parking lot will be constructed at the terminus of the trail at Haggerty Road.

This will add 2.5 miles of pathway and extend the West Bloomfield Trail all the way to Haggerty Road. Here it will eventually connect with the Walled Lake, Commerce, and Wixom rail-trail also under development. MDOT has also suggested building a trail bridge across M-5 to connect the trails.

The Road Commission is even considering a speed table where the trail crosses Arrowhead — an innovative traffic calming design that we’d like to see more of. Not only does it act as a stretched speed bump for cars, it tells drivers that they’re crossing the trail. It visually says that the trail has a right-of-way. This is a design we would have preferred seeing where the Dequindre Cut crosses streets south of Jefferson.

As mentioned in the Spinal Column, the West Bloomfield trail extension should be under construction by May and completed by the end of summer.

Support Transportation Enhancements

Federal Transportation Enhancement funding really makes projects like this possible, but that funding source may get eliminated in Congress. A vote on this is coming up this week in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Local congresswoman Candice Miller serves on this committee.

Please take a minute and call her office before Thursday’s vote and ask her to not eliminate this funding. Her Washington DC phone number is (202) 225-2106.

Let’s keep this funding in the next transportation bill!

 

MDOT grants announced for trails and streetscaping

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

MDOT has announced the latest round of Transportation Enhancement funding.

Here are the grantees from the three Metro Detroit counties.

Macomb County

The city of New Baltimore will make streetscape improvements to its historic downtown on Washington Street from Green Street to Front Street. The project will include streetlights, trees, planters, bike racks, street furniture, and staining the existing sidewalk. The project budget is $486,110, including $340,277 in federal TE funds and $145,833 from the city.

Oakland County

The Road Commission for Oakland County, in partnership with West Bloomfield Township, will construct a multi-use trail along an abandoned rail line from Arrowhead Road to Haggerty Road. The trail will be an extension of the West Bloomfield Trail, which connects to the Clinton River Trail. The project includes trail surfacing, roadway crossings, benches, trash receptacles, and trail shoulder restoration with native plant materials. The project budget is $1,111,692, including $611,431 in federal TE funds and $500,261 from West Bloomfield Township Parks and Recreation.

Wayne County

MDOT, in partnership with the city of Detroit and the Greening of Detroit, will install streetscape amenities along US-12 (Michigan Avenue) between 14th Street and Rosa Parks Boulevard. The work includes replacing the concrete sidewalks and adding brick pavers, tree planters, bike loops and trash receptacles. When the project is complete, the Greening of Detroit will place trees in the planters. The project budget is $407,351, including $325,881 in federal TE funds, $71,286 from MDOT and $10,184 from the city.

Both streetscape projects include bike racks.

What’s not on the list is the grant request for Trumbull in Detroit. As we’d last heard, this was a request to reconstruct Trumbull from Warren to W. Grand Boulevard, including adding bike lanes.

Another project that is expected to get funded soon is the next portion of the Conner Creek Greenway from the Mt. Olivet Cemetery to Eight Mile. It includes a combination of bikes lanes on E. Outer Drive/Conner, sidewalks, and bike routes.

As you may recall, Transportation Enhancements has been threatened to be cut in Washington DC. Now is as good a time as ever to contract your Congress member and remind them of the value in these transportation dollars.

Bike and Pedestrian funding survives — again!

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Senators Levin and Stabenow escort Transportation Secretary LaHood on the RiverWalk, a project that has received Enhancements funding.

The U.S. Senate just voted 38 to 60 which preserves critical federal funding called Transportation Enhancements.

Enhancements are the primary funding source for bike and pedestrian projects. Had we lost this funding, it would have devastated our efforts to make Detroit and all of Michigan more bike-friendly.

The run up to this vote was colorful. Senator Rand Paul played up America’s failing bridges while decrying wasteful Enhancements spending. The only problem? The Associated Press researched his claims and found them to be “exaggerated and misrepresented” according to the article, FACT CHECK: GOP lawmakers spin funding tall tales.

Both Michigan Senators, Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, voted to continue this funding.

Thanks to everyone who contacted their senators prior to today’s vote.

When we contacted Senator Stabenow regarding this issue, she provided this positive response:

Thank you for contacting me about federal funding for pedestrian and bicycle trails. I share your concerns.

Michigan’s lush natural resources and unique landscapes present many opportunities for residents and visitors to make use of our bike paths, hiking trails and other non-motorized pathways. These areas not only provide recreational enjoyment for Michigan residents, but also attract much-needed tourism and economic activity to our state.

In the past, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) has introduced legislation that would require most federally funded transportation projects to accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transportation users. If related legislation should come before me for a vote, I will be sure to keep your views in mind.

The Harkin bill she mentions is for Complete Streets.