From the League of American Bicyclists:
It’s happening again. Just one month ago, Sen. Coburn (R-OK) failed in his efforts to strip funding for Transportation Enhancements from the six-month transportation extension.
Senator Rand Paul’s 80-year Bridge Repair Plan
Now, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is taking the lead in trying to destroy Transportation Enhancements. On November 1, the Senate will finalize the transportation appropriations bill, which sets funding levels for FY2012. Sen. Paul has offered an amendment to redirect all funding for Transportation Enhancements to bridge repair.
We agree on the need to keep our bridges safe, but the lives of pedestrians and cyclists are important too. Thirteen people died when the Minneapolis bridge collapsed in 2007: since then, close to 20,000 pedestrians and 2,800 cyclists have died on our nation’s highways, largely as a result of poor highway design and a lack of safe non-motorized infrastructure – exactly what the enhancement program was created to fix.
If Sen. Paul’s amendment is successful, it would eliminate approximately $700 million in federal funding for FY2012 that is used to construct sidewalks, bike lanes, bike paths, trails and other infrastructure that makes it safe for bicyclists and pedestrians to get around. Even if every penny of these funds is diverted to bridge repairs, Senator Paul’s plan will still take 80 years to fix the backlog of bridge repairs we have today.
Remember that the TE program represents less than two percent of the Federal transportation program and these projects help alleviate traffic congestion, improve safety, get people active, and create more jobs per dollar than highway-only projects.
Tim Blumenthal of Bikes Belong (which will be at the Bicycle Baash on NOV 6) issued this statement on the issue:
Last month, we asked you to contact your U.S. Senators to oppose Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn's plan to strip funding from the Transportation Enhancements program, which is the main source of the federal investment for bike projects of all types. Peopleforbikes.org supporters and our allies generated more than 75,000 emails to Congress in 48 hours. This rapid and powerful grassroots response succeeded: Mr. Coburn withdrew his amendment and crucial funding for bicycling was preserved.
We are sorry to report today that bike infrastructure funding is under serious and immediate attack again – this time in an amendment proposed by Senator Rand Paul (KY) that would redirect all funding for Transportation Enhancements to bridge repairs. Mr. Paul's amendment is set for a Senate vote Tuesday, Nov. 1.
While we are all for bridge repairs, gutting the Transportation Enhancements program is not the way to get the job done. We must defeat this amendment and we need your help. We need you to contact your state's two U.S. Senators today and ask them to oppose this amendment. Here are four reasons why:
1. Everyone deserves to be safe. We agree that we must keep our bridges safe, but the lives of pedestrians and bicyclists are important too. Nearly 5,000 Americans die each year biking or walking on our nation’s roadways.
2. Reallocating bike funding won't make a dent in the cost of bridge repairs. Even if every penny of Transportation Enhancements money is diverted to bridge repairs, Senator Paul’s plan would still take 80 years to fix the backlog of bridge repairs we have today.
3. Transportation Enhancements provide essential transportation benefits, like reducing road congestion, improving safety, getting people active, and creating more jobs per dollar than highway-only projects.
4. States don't spend all the money they already receive for bridge repairs.
This is the third attempt in a month by a small group of Senators to target Transportation Enhancements, using a different angle each time. It is a waste of the Senate's time and taxpayers dollars to focus on eliminating this modest, cost-effective, valuable program when we are in dire need of real and viable solutions to fix our failing transportation system.
Please contact your Senators today to ask them to vote against the Paul amendment (SA-821) to eliminate Transportation Enhancements. (You can find your Senators, review basic suggested text for your email, and send your note directly from this link.)
Thank you for your help today, and for passing this call to action along.