Several bike related issues came up at yesterday’s Environment Council’s roundtable with RIDOT Director Mike Lewis. One agenda item was an update on earmarks, special Federal funds that are paying for most of our state’s bike projects, but are threatened by the new Congress.
According to a December 2010 update, one of the largest remaining earmarks, $12.5 million is for the “Northwest Bike Trail” that currently ends in the middle of a residential neighborhood in Johnston, but could be extended at least to Route 44 in the Centerdale area. However, Mr. Lewis indicated that he had received a letter from Johnston’s Mayor that the town did not want the project, even if they pay nothing to build or maintain it.
I hadn’t heard about this letter from any source before. RIDOT indicated they weren’t giving up on the project but were concerned that if not undertaken, the money could be lost to another state, though perhaps it could somehow be reprogrammed for a different Rhode Island project.
We have the East and West Bay paths despite opposition do to local advocates (for example, George Redman, Ray Alexander) who worked to promote them. Is there nobody in Johnston who cares? What an opportunity is being lost. The next town, Smithfield, has also been opposed to bicycle facilities. But I agree with RIDOT that they can not force it on the town.
Perhaps we need a “northwest RI bike summit” to try to save it if we can find anyone in Johnston and Smithfield interested.
North Kingstown and Jamestown are other towns that rejected bike facilities.
Other bike-related remaining earmarks that could be at risk include, in $ millions (as of 12/2010) Colt Park bike improvements: 2.5; Washington Secondary in Coventry: 15.65; 10-Mile River Greenway- Pawtucket- Ea Providence: $3.75; Blackstone Bikeway: 2.19; South County Bike Path: 1.6