Cautious Optimism From the Senate

Word is coming down from America Bikes that

After several long weeks of intense work from advocates around the country, the Cardin-Cochran Amendment has been accepted as part of the base Senate transportation bill, MAP-21.

If MAP-21 ends up becoming law, the language from this amendment will ensure that local governments, school systems, and metropolitan planning organizations are able to access much-needed funds to make bicycling and walking safe and accessible.

With the acceptance of the Cardin-Cochran amendment, here is how MAP-21 would work, assuming the overall bill passes:

  1. The Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School and Recreational Trails programs are consolidated into a new program called Additional Activities.
  2. State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) will make their Additional Activities funding available to metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and local governments. Here’s how they’ll allocate the funds:
    • The state DOT will allocate fifty percent of the Additional Activities, based on population, to MPOs and rural areas. MPOs will then distribute the funds through a competitive grant program for projects in their communities.
    • For the remaining 50% of Additional Activities, the state DOT would host its own competitive grant process for projects. Local governments, school districts, and others would be eligible to compete for this funding.

If it becomes law, this legislation would ensure that local governments and communities have a voice in the transportation decisions that affect their streets. The safeguards included in MAP-21 would ensure that communities of every size benefit from making their own localized transportation decisions for safe streets.

Much can still change before the transportation bill becomes law, but this certainly signifies some good trending.

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7 comments on “Cautious Optimism From the Senate

  1. MattM says:

    That actually could have some pretty significant impacts on project prioritization and planning if every project suddenly can be applied for as a competitive grant. Makes portions of the TIP prioritization and project submission process somewhat moot. On the up side, it would allow projects not in the TIP a chance to get funded when as they develop instead of putting projects in a 4 year wait with no chance at funding because it isn't listed in the TIP.

  2. barry says:

    Well, the TIP can be amended any time over the 4 year period, the expiring TIP was amended about 12 times, for example for including work for planning the Pawtucket train station, for accomodating stimulus and flood-related new funds, for adding projects when a TIGER grant was obtined – the Kingston 3rd track for example, and more.

    Note Rhode Island has one statewide MPO (the State Planning Council) – they farmed out competetive grant programs like safe-routes-to-schools and enhancements generally to special committees and their resulting programs are incorporated in the TIP. It should also be noted that much of the funding for big bike projects so far has been the results of earmarks from our very probike Congressional delegation. Going forward without earmarks, we should be appreciative that our MPO/DOT are still calling for a discretionary bike ped program outside of the enhancement program (using what are now called "surface transportation funds" that are very flexible – totalling about $13 million over the next 4 years as well as finishing earmarks (about $12 million, mainly Trestle Trail and at Colt Park) and continuing safe-routes-to school and recreational trails (about $7 million more)

    Towns cometed for proexts that were scored by the TAC's bike subcommittee. I don't see too much changng in this process.

  3. Labann says:

    Well, it probably won’t matter in Rhode Island. In case you hadn’t heard, most cities and towns are bankrupt, there’s been a mass exodus over the last decade of 10% of the population, and what’s the joke with economic development? And, as I said during the last election, governor has proven to be the worst in state history. Would say I told you so, but it’s nothing to gloat over. At least Nero could fiddle. AAA is still publishing letters from irate motorists who complain about cyclists disobeying traffic laws, but never this steady stream of motorists running stop sign at the intersection outside my office. Hey, motorists are in labor saving devices; bicyclists are only saving planet that motorists are destroying. Global warming? Last year was 3° above average, the warmest in recorded history. And what happened to Winter? Never once shoveled snow.

    Massachusetts has it’s faults, but at least the new Brightman Bridge over Tauton River in Fall River has a full scale, 2-way bikeway on its North side. Contrasts with Providence’s George Washington single-track catwalk, although similarly you have to be schooled as to how to access this hilly, twisty marvel. The old Brightman Bridge was horrible, but at least it was a readily accessible and flat crossing.

  4. barry says:

    Labann mixes up so many ideas that he has to have some of them right. But he is wrong about the population, Rhode Island's is basically stable, to lose 10% would require a drop of over 100,000 which definitely did not happen.

    While its a matter of judgement, I think Chafee is one of our best Governors, appointing generally decent honest people in agencies (I'm especially positive about DEM's Director) and has been willing to take take the heat for taking on pension reform and the need for more revenue, both of which I think need to be done. And unlike other state DOTs, RIDOT continues to support the bike program (even without earmarks) safe-routes-to-school and enhancements. MA may have done the one bridge well (easier, not alongside an Interstate) but is way behind us on the Blackstone Bikeway that we need to help get a national park in the region that can benefit our tourist economy.

    But I agree with Labann about the double standard, motorists routinely run stop signs, speed, fail to signal, (and sometimes drive drunk like my State Senator does) all of which threaten other road users since they are in several thousand pounds of metal, while bicyclists infractions are considered co-equal.

  5. Labann says:

    Sorry, Barry. I happened to have actually worked for the 1990, 2000 and 2010 Dicenniel Censuses. We lost 92,000 residents from 2000 to 2010.

    Chafee hasn’t done anything substantive since being inaugurated. His focus on giving illegals equal privileges is an affront to all tax paying citizens. Illegals don’t have to pay taxes, serve in military, or, so it seems, obey laws, but they can collect welfare and drive. Why should they get preferential treatment? Pension reforms? You mean illegally ripping the rug out from hard working public servants after they’ve devoted lifetimes to, for the most part, moderately compensated careers. They would have done better in private industry… except we don’t have any because of a privatized and unaccountable EDC. The courts will overturn this egregious breech of contract. And the “Christmas Tree”; we can have anything else on state property than a traditional, not religion specific, token. His approval rating is the lowest in history. “Run, Forest, run.”

    John Forester, in a vain attempt to gain equality for bicyclists on roads, coined the term “vehicular cycling”. He was trying to do is convince legislators that bicycles are vehicles, too, with all the rights motorists enjoy, but with it also the penalties. Bikes and cars not not equal. A bike is more like a pair of sneakers, something closer to sports apparel, than a motor vehicle. Except for tiny exceptions, RI’s roads have not improved to include cycling anywhere in 5 decades. We’ve lost far more infrastructure than we’ve gained. The opposite is true in busy MA, if not quiet CT.

  6. barry says:

    Labann

    you can't make up facts. RI Census results: (check "quickfacts" in the US Census)

    Rhode Island's popuation in 2000: 1,048,318

    in 2010 1,052,567

    rather than losing 92,000 residents we gained about 4,000.

    I agree Governor Cahafee's popularity is low because he ticked off the right wing by advocating for higher revenues, the left-wing by advocating for pension reform, and the religous zealotys by resisting state endorsement of religous symbols. But I think he is right on all three. Hoever, I do agree with Labann that the Governor cancelling e-verify.seems to be a mistake.

    No bike infratructure in 5 decase?? That is saying the East Bay and other bike paths don;t count, that bike parking racks don't count, that various share-the-road signage installed doesn't count etc

    I think its better not to vastly overstate things.

  7. Labann says:

    [content moderated] I said, “RI’s ROADS have not improved to include cycling.” Even with the perfectly decent bike paths, bicycling infrastructure is at a net loss. For every mile of bike path, we lost 2 or 3 to highways that both ban bicycling and leave no options, or stolen shoulders, or turning lanes that make intersections nearly impassable, thus preclude use of roads leading from and to.

    I’ve seen that quick fact. It’s not true. I personally counted residents. There was fully 1.21 million in 2000; now there are only 1.11 million. But government officials still lust for revenue to pay their own 6 figure incomes and whatever else they misappropriate funding upon, billion dollar boondoggles like the I-way/Q-way fiasco. No, admitting to a net losses would mean less federal funding, if not voter outrage. [content moderated].

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