Thursday, November 19, 2009

CTB approves Transportation Enhancement policy change

At their meeting today the Commonwealth Transportation Board approved proposed changes to the Transportation Enhancement Program policy that will provide more funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects. Starting in FY2013, VDOT will:
Apply any funding for new projects to those that promote core transportation function:
  • Pedestrian and Bicycle Facilities
  • Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety and Education
  • Landscaping and Scenic Beautification along Transportation Corridors (including streetscape improvements)
  • Preservation of Abandoned Railway Corridors and Conversion to Trails (traditional rails-to-trails and rails-with-trails projects)
An additional category was added to the list, Acquisition of Scenic or Historic Easements and Sites. The change will reduce the number of possible project categories from 12 to 5 and should significantly increase the funds available for bicycle projects.

Later in the meeting the CTB approved a major portion of the Virginia Capital Trail, that will stretch from Richmond to Williamsburg.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Proposed changes to Virginia Transportation Enhancement funding

At it's November 19 meeting the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) will consider possible changes to the formula for funding Transportation Enhancement (TE) projects. One suggested change to be implemented in FY2013 would put more emphasis on transportation-oriented bicycle and pedestrian projects and less emphasis on historic preservation projects.

There are 12 categories of TE projects. Many people think that TE projects are primarily for building pedestrian and bicycle facilities. However, 9 of the 12 categories have nothing to do with non-motorized transportation. Among the 12 categories are: scenic or historic highway programs including tourist and welcome centers, purchase of historic properties or buildings in historic districts, rehabilitation and operation of historic transportation buildings, structures or facilities, and establishment of transportation museums.

The categories that would receive funding in FY2013 are those that promote core transportation functions: Pedestrian and Bicycle Facilities, Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety and Education, Landscaping and Scenic Beautification along Transportation Corridors (including streetscape improvements), and Preservation of Abandoned Railway Corridors and Conversion to Trails (traditional rails-to-trails and rails-with-trails projects).

We support most of the proposed changes. We don't support the inclusion of landscaping and scenic beautification projects unless they include bicycle facilities. Some TE funds have been used on projects that in fact make conditions worse for bicyclists and pedestrians. Streetscape projects in Northern Virginia have included brick sidewalks and crosswalks and street designs that do not accommodate bicyclists.

To speak out in favor of the proposed changes, attend the November 19 CTB meeting at 9:00 a.m. at the VDOT Central Office Auditorium, 1221 E. Broad St., Richmond or send comments by email.


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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Senator Webb votes to kill bike/ped funding

Senator Coburn (R-OK) has been trying to kill funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects that are part of the Transportation Enhancements (TE) program for many years. Back in 2007 he tried to strike TE funding from the 2008 Transportation appropriations bill:
"we should not be spending money on bicycle paths for our own leisure, comfort, and exercise when we have bridges that are falling down."
I guess Senator Coburn has never heard of bike commuting or bicycles used for transportation. That effort in 2007 was defeated by a vote of 80-18. The 18 votes in favor were all Republicans.

Sen. Coburn's latest attempt to cut TE funding failed again in the Senate by a much closer vote of 59-39. What is more disturbing is that Virginia's Senator Webb voted with Senator Coburn to kill funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects. We suggest that cyclists tell Senator Webb that funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects needs to be increased, that people are demanding better, healthier transportation choices, cleaner air, and safer streets.

The Alliance for Biking and Walking provided some suggested topics for including in your message:
I am concerned by your vote to support Senate Amendment 2371 on the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill. The amendment would have allowed states to Opt out of the Transportation Enhancement program, which is the main source of funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects.

Bicycling and Walking are clean and efficient modes of transportation. Currently, bicycling and walking account for 10% of the national mode share and yet receive less than 2% of the surface transportation funding. These cost efficient programs save 1.4 billion gallons of gas a year and 12 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year. At a time when we are looking to address climate change and reduce Green House Gas Emission's (GHG) we should not be cutting funding for biking and walking.

Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure saves lives. Nationally, 13% of all roadway fatalities involve bicyclists or pedestrians. 41% of pedestrian fatalities occur where crosswalks are not available. Additionally, a recent survey conducted by AARP, shows that 47% of the nation's elderly currently do not feel safe crossing the streets in their neighborhoods.

Building Bicycling and Pedestrian facilities are good for the economy. Building biking and walking infrastructure creates jobs - bike infrastructure is more labor intensive and less material intensive than building roads. Sidewalks and bike lanes make streets and downtowns into destinations for shopping and entertainment. Investing in walking and biking facilities helps local business and is an investment in the local economy.

Please reconsider your support for Transportation Enhancements. This program is vital to providing transportation options for all Americans.
One day bicycle and pedestrian projects will be an integral part of ALL transportation projects and there won't be a need for a separate fund. Until that time, TE funding is vital for building an interconnected pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.

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