The Rhode Island Department of Transportation is slashing funding for bicycle projects again, despite 78.9% approval for the recent Green Economy Bond.
After withdrawing its proposal to cut $27 million from the Transportation Alternatives Program earlier this year, RIDOT is now seeking to transfer $37 million away from current and future bike-related projects. RIDOT is proposing this move despite having recently received $358 million in new funding for transportation, triple the budget shortfall RI faced at the start of 2019.
If adopted, Major Amendment #19 would postpone the Trestle Trail in Coventry indefinitely, delay and cut spending to the William C. O’Neill (South County) Bike Path extension in South Kingstown, and drop several Green Economy Bond projects off of the STIP, making them much harder to track.
Finally, and most egregiously, RIDOT’s Major Amendment #19 seeks to divert money earmarked for implementing the Bike Mobility Plan, which is awaiting final approval by the Governor. This means that bicycle and pedestrian projects recommended by residents in a robust public process across the state will be forestalled.
Although $37 million represents a tiny percentage of RIDOT’s overall budget, it would make a world of difference for people who bike or walk. Bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure is inexpensive to build and proven to save lives. RIDOT has shown its reluctance to fund infrastructure, even when there is ample money to do so. We at the Rhode Island Bicycle Coalition stand vehemently against this, once again.
Two public hearings on the proposed amendment are scheduled for August 13 at 5:00 PM at Narragansett Town Hall, 25 Fifth Ave. in Narragansett and August 15 at 4:00 PM at the Department of Administration, One Capitol Hill in Providence.
Written statements can be filed with the Transportation Advisory Committee by mailing them to Michael D’Alessandro, Department of Administration, Division of Statewide Planning, One Capitol Hill, Providence, RI 02908, or e-mail to Michael.DAlessandro@doa.ri.gov. All comments on the amendment must be received prior to 3:30 pm on August 22.
Press inquiries on this topic should go to Sarah Mitchell, Board Chair at Rhode Island Bicycle Coalition, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 401-297-2153.