Here we go again. the Transportation Bills in the Senate and House are moving forward and once again we are asking you to take action today.
On the House side there is HR 7, a train wreck in every sense of the word. Besides taking away bicycle and pedestrian funding the bill also negates bike ped access requirements for bridges, defunds Amtrak, guts NJ Transit and allows oil drilling off the Jersey Shore. Would anyone representing New Jersey consider voting yes for this bill? Probably. This is such an unpopular bill that you will have to go all the way back to SOPA to find anything comparable.
Here is how House Speaker Boehner glosses over the cuts last week - "Reforms passed by the Ways & Means Committee today will stop taxpayer dollars from being siphoned off for non-economic projects - such as beautification and bike paths - which currently receive 25 percent of Highway Trust Fund expenditures, and direct 100 percent of that funding to core infrastructure projects."
Last week Representative LoBiondo voted against taking out bicycle and pedestrian funding in the bill in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Next week it will be everyone's turn to vote.
On the other side of the dome the Senate's MAP-21 bill does not promise doomsday but it does merge Safe Routes to School, Transportation Enhancements and Recreational Trails into an "additional activities" fund. Cuts their allocation by 30% and allow states to opt out of funding these programs. NJ DOT has in the past given back a disproportionate amount of Transportation Enhancements funds back to the Federal Government in the form of recessions. A proposed amendment known as the Cardin-Cochran amendment would allow local governments to apply directly for federal funds to build walking and biking infrastructure. The amendment doesn't redeem the bill, but it's an improvement, and our Senators need to hear our support for it.