New transportation bill preserves bicycle and pedestrian funding
Congressional negotiators reached an agreement Tuesday on a new five-year, $305 billion transportation bill, but once again failed to find a long-term way to pay for transportation. The new bill, called Fixing America’s Surface Transportation, or FAST, cobbles together federal gas tax revenues and $70 billion in transfers from other areas of the federal budget, such as selling oil from the Strategic Reserve ($6 billion), and raiding the Federal Reserve’s “rainy day fund” ($19 billion). FAST is expected to pass both chambers by December 4, when transportation spending was set to expire. President Obama is likely to sign the bill this week.
According to the Washington Post, FAST increases money for pedestrian and bicycle programs and protects funding for transit. Other reports have indicated that funding for pedestrian and bicycle programs will remain status quo. More details will emerge soon, but it looks like a significant win since such programs have been threatened with cuts during the transportation bill development process.
Locally, we expect Safe Routes to School programs as well as bicycle and pedestrian projects to continue to be funded and to get more people moving.
The lobbying work of Trailnet staff and supporters, and that of many advocates across the country, made a difference over the past year. In addition, a debt of gratitude is owed for the diligent work of Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Peter DeFazio, alternative transportation advocates in their own right and vice-chairs of their respective transportation committees.