Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bill That Could Provide Bike/Ped Money Extended Again

Staci Lehman of Spokane Regional Transportation Council

Those of you who are observant have probably already noticed that Dec. 18 has passed. What’s the significance of the date? For the non-transportation groupies out there, that was the expiration date for the extension of SAFETEA-LU (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy For Users), the funding and authorization bill that governs United States federal surface transportation spending.

So what does that mean? Are we without a bill that provides funding for transportation projects now and all construction projects will grind to a halt? No, that won’t happen. On the 18th, the ‘Omnibus Bill’ was passed, which extended SAFETEA-LU AGAIN until September of 2010.

Why should you care? Because we (we being Spokane Regional Transportation Council) partnered with the Rails to Trails Conservancy on the ‘SmartRoutes’ project to try to get Congress to double the non-motorized transportation budget from $4.5 billion to $9 billion in the next federal transportation budget. If that happens, when they finally get around to reauthorizing the bill, there will be more money available to build bicycling-friendly facilities like bike lanes, trails, paths, etc.

In the meantime, a couple other bills are expected to be voted on in January that relate to transportation. Jeff Selle is SRTC’s Manager of Government Affairs. After Congress reconvenes in January, he says he’ll write up an entire analysis of everything going on right now that involves transportation.

So, if you’re one of those people who gets that holiday letdown feeling after the holidays, just know that you have that to look forward to. And while you’re waiting for that, you can use the time to catch up on reading the SRTC blog so that you can become one of those transportation groupies I mentioned earlier.


Barb Chamberlain said...

"Transportation groupie": A title I'll wear with pride. Thanks, Staci, for getting SRTC out there using the communication tools that people want to use! Columns here and the SRTC blog are great for building a sense of involvement in our transportation planning.


SRTC Staff said...

Thanks Barb, and as always, let me know if you have items you'd like posted on our blog, in addition to John's, so that we can double our reach when trying to get the word out about bicycle happenings.