State & Local Groups--Sign on to letter to Congress to restore funding for built environment and health program
The President’s recently released budget eliminates funding for the national Built Environment and Health Initiative (BEHI), known as the Healthy Community Design Initiative.
The CDC is asking national, state and local groups to sign on to its letter to Congress asking for $3 million for that program in 2017. Bike Walk Connecticut has signed on. The deadline for signing on is Friday, February 19.
Read the letter here. Authorized signatories can sign on to the letter here.
Connecticut's US Senator Chris Murphy wants to "bring a human face to the debate over transportation funding and fight for investments that are smart and driven by you."
Please send the message that creating safe, connected networks for biking and walking is an extremely cost-efficient way to give people real options for getting around without relying on a car for every errand, every outing, and every commute.
To join this conversation, visit www.murphy.senate.gov/fedup and share your perspective.
Here's Senator Murphy's message:
As I travel across Connecticut, I’ve heard countless stories from people about how our transportation system has failed them. A barber commuting from Waterbury to Bridgeport has to choose between serving customers from the after-work rush and making it home for dinner because there is a four-hour wait between trains. A working mom in Norwalk can almost never make her son’s baseball games because of traffic on I-95. A Milford businessman routinely has to budget two hours to travel fewer than twenty-five miles.
People are fed up. Connecticut has some of the worst traffic and the oldest infrastructure in the nation. Traffic, congestion, and delays are more than abstract concepts that affect commerce or productivity. Traffic means stress. Congestion means being late for work. Delays mean missing dinner with your kids night after night.
That’s why I'm reaching out to you. I want to hear your story. How long is your commute? What would a shorter, more reliable commute mean to you and your family? Why you are fed up?
To join this conversation, I encourage you to visit www.murphy.senate.gov/fedup and share your perspective.
I will take your stories to Washington to bring a human face to the debate over transportation funding and fight for investments that are smart and driven by you. Because it’s about time we fix this.
All my best,
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy
Washington: 136 Hart Senate Office Bldg. , Washington, DC 20510 (202) 224-4041
Hartford: One Constitution Plaza, 7th Fl., Hartford, Connecticut 06103 (860) 549-8463
Congress is preparing to take action on a new federal transportation bill. Given the shortfall of federal transportation dollars, some members of Congress are already questioning why the federal government provides any funding for bicycling and walking.
Let's make sure Congress doesn't cut funding to help local communities build sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, trails and more. Please ask our US Senators Blumenthal and Murphy to Co-Sponsor S. 705, The Transportation Alternatives Program Improvement Act.
Background: The Transportation Alternatives Program provides hundreds of millions of dollars each year to local communities to invest in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. It's the only federal program specifically focused on local transportation priorities. S. 705, the Transportation Alternatives Program Improvement Act, written by Sens. Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), makes changes to the program to make it more effective and easier for local governments to use.
For decades, our federal transportation system has focused the bulk of its resources on building roads, leaving many of our communities with few transportation options and rising safety risks for people bicycling and walking. More and more Americans want options for bicycling, walking and transit to live healthier and safer lives. More and more cities and towns are clamoring for more facilities for biking and walking to make their communities more attractive to residents and to improve their economies. S. 705 would help make sure that Congress continues to invest a small share of federal transportation dollars in these types of projects.
And really, what could be greener, zero-emission forms of transportation than biking and walking?
Ask our Senators to cosponsor S. 705, the Transportation Alternatives Program Improvement Act, to ensure that our federal transportation system continues to provide funding for bicycling and walking. Take Action Here.
The US DOT's Federal Transit Administration is making $19.98 million available to support comprehensive planning associated with Transit Oriented Development (TOD). Awards will range from $250,000 to $2,000,000.
According to the notice from FTA, “the grants will fund comprehensive planning that supports economic development, ridership, multimodal connectivity and accessibility, increased transit access for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, and mixed-use development near transit stations.”
FTA intends to fund planning work that would likely not occur without Federal support and is seeking comprehensive planning projects covering an entire transit capital project corridor.
In a nod to the importance of regional cooperation, "Only one application per transit capital project corridor may be submitted to FTA. Multiple applications submitted for a single transit capital project corridor indicate to FTA that partnerships are not in place and FTA will reject all of the applications."
Proposals must address six aspects explained in the funding notice, including how the project “increases access to transit hubs for pedestrian and bicycle traffic.”
With the FTA open to receive grant applications, T4America has organized an online session to explain the program, how it works, and what kind of applications FTA will be looking for. We’ll have Therese McMillan on hand, Acting Administrator of FTA, as well as experts from Transportation for America to discuss this new program. Find out more information about this T4A webinar taking place on Friday, September 26, and register.
The closing date for proposals is Monday, November 3, 2014 at 11:59pm EDT.
Bike Walk Connecticut is interested to hear who will apply from CT. Please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FTA Funding Announcement: http://www.fta.dot.gov/grants/13077_16135.html
Transportation for America: http://t4america.org/2014/09/10/new-grant-program-to-support-smart-development-around-transit-lines-is-open-for-business
Ask your Congressman/woman to Support the "New Opportunities" Bike/Ped Financing Bill at http://bit.ly/1cYWlKt
Hey Connecticut! Help make sure your town has access to a new way to finance safe streets for everyone--ask your Representative to co-sponsor H.R. 3978 today!
One of the biggest challenges to making communities more walkable and bikeable is that there’s often only enough funding to build one stretch of pathways or sidewalks at a time—leaving incomplete networks from homes to schools, workplaces or other destinations. Don't we know it!
A new federal bill from Reps. Sires (D-NJ), Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Carson (D-IN), and Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) looks to change that. The New Opportunities for Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure Financing Act (HR 3978) would give communities access to low-cost loans to build bicycling and walking networks. This means a city could get a loan now and build a network of sidewalks, bike lanes and paths to improve safety and increase physical activity—and repay the loan over many years.
The bill would set aside $11 million from the existing $1 billion TIFIA loan program to test out this new financing program for bicycling and walking. (TIFIA stands for the "Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act.") Another innovative aspect of the bill is that 25 percent of any loaned funds must be spent in low-income communities.
Help make sure your town has access to a new way to finance safe streets for everyone--ask your Representative to co-sponsor H.R. 3978 today!
The American League of Bicyclists reported the U.S. Senate blocked the Transportation, HUD Appropriations bill, which would have ended debate and brought a vote on the substance of the bill.
The final vote was 54-43. To end debate on a bill there needs to be at least 60 votes in favor to pass.
The Transportation HUD Appropriations bill had passed the Appropriations Committee with strong support from both sides. However, earlier this week, Republican leadership of the Senate argued against the bill, stating the funding level for it was too high.
What does this mean? Both the House and Senate have failed to pass a Transportation and Housing budget. In order to keep the U.S. Department of Transportation open, Congress will need to pass a continuing resolution by the end of September.
We will keep you posted on further updates as they become available.
The League of American Bicyclists reported earlier today that the U.S. House leadership pulled the Transportation Appropriations Bill from the floor. Debate and voting on the Bill are postponed until September. If passed, the Bill would include cuts to the Community Development Fund Grant, which funds many programs in local cities, which are used for infrastructure development.
In the Senate however, Senate Majority Leader Reid filed for cloture on the Senate Transportation Appropriations, which means the Senate will vote on Thursday (August 1) to end debate on the Bill and move on to voting.
Additionally, on Tuesday, July 30, Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced Amendment 1798 to the Transportation Appropriations Bill to take all the funds from the Transportation Alternatives Program.
Bike Walk Connecticut will keep you posted on the Senate vote this week.
On December 10, Connecticut's leading transportation advocates--the Regional Plan Association, Transit for Connecticut, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, the Business Council of Fairfield County, Capitol Region Council of Governments, Connecticut Association for Community Transportation, Connecticut Construction Industries Association--convened elected officials, transportation experts, and state decision makers to learn how we can work together to move Connecticut forward.
Jack Basso, Director of Program Finance and Management for AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transit Officials), was the keynote speaker. Panelists included Emil Frankel, Bipartisan Policy Center; Oz Griebel, MetroHartford Alliance; Joe McGee, The Business Council of Fairfield County; and Commissioner Jim Redeker, Connecticut Department of Transportation.
Presentations from AASHTO's Jack Basso's and DOT Commissioner Jim Redeker are available below.
The America Bikes coalition — representing the nation’s leading bicycling and walking groups — and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership oppose the new transportation bill, which would nationally cut funding for biking and walking projects by 60 to 70 percent.
We are deeply concerned that bicycling and walking programs suffer large and disproportionate cuts in funding in the new bill. Programs that save lives and dollars are eliminated.
The full extent of cuts to biking and walking funding will be determined at the state level and may be even deeper. We will continue to work in states and local communities to support safe, accessible streets.
The new transportation bill is a bad bill for biking and walking. This bill:
This two-year bill represents a major step backwards in transportation policy for transportation choices and healthy physical activity. Despite this temporary setback in national policy, bicycling and walking will continue to grow and gain support, and Americans will continue to demand safer, more accessible streets and communities. Going forward, biking and walking will return to a central place in America’s transportation policies and programs.
Bill maintains funding and avoids transit cuts, but rolls back safety and environmental protections
In response to the announcement of a conference committee deal to authorize the federal transportation program through September 2014, transportation advocates expressed disappointment at the bill’s lack of reforms and at provisions that would make it harder for communities in Connecticut to provide input on major projects and improve street safety:
“While the bill allows the country to avoid a shutdown of transportation funding, it shuts down progress instead,” said Veronica Vanterpool, Tri-State Transportation Campaign executive director. “It reduces funding for bike and pedestrian projects, rolls back environmental protections, and incentivizes new road building and driving. It’s now up to local and state leaders to fight for a more accountable, environmentally sustainable transportation system.”
The bill would make large portions of dedicated pedestrian and bicycle funding optional for states. Currently, less than 3% of federal transportation funding is dedicated for pedestrian and bicycle projects, and local communities rely on these small programs to improve safety and promote economic development.
“Scores of Connecticut residents are killed and many more injured while walking and cycling each year,” said Kelly Kennedy, Executive Director of Bike Walk Connecticut. “With less help coming from Washington, ConnDOT must step up its commitment to safety.”
The bill also appears to roll back environmental protections. It exempts more projects from the federal project review process and adds arbitrary deadlines that could lead to hasty, error-prone reviews.
"We’re concerned that the bill could make it harder for local communities and residents to provide input on projects that affect their air, water, health, and property,” said Kirsten Griebel, Transportation Program Director, CT League of Conservation Voters.
The bill also changes the federal TIFIA loan program by removing criteria that considered environmental sustainability, project significance, and other factors. As a result, the program could send more money to states that are building many new roads (like North Carolina and Indiana) and less to states in our region.
The Senate had crafted a forward-looking, bipartisan bill, MAP-21. Unfortunately, many positive reforms that had been included in MAP-21 were dropped from the final deal, including provisions to restore the transit commuter benefit to $240/month (it fell to $125/month at the beginning of the year), give transit agencies flexibility over how they spend their federal funds, and focus road and bridge funding on repair and maintenance.
The legislation avoids cuts to public transportation. It would provide new sources of funding for repair of transit systems, and help municipalities build around their rail and bus stations.
“It’s a bitter disappointment that the commuter benefit won’t be restored, though Connecticut thankfully avoids a cut to transit funding,” said Transit for Connecticut Coordinator Karen Burnaska.
“Though the bill lacks significant reforms, it does avoid the most extreme cuts supported by some in the House,” Tri-State Transportation Campaign Federal Advocate Steven Higashide said. “Connecticut’s delegation helped defeat proposals to cut all dedicated funding for public transportation, walking, and cycling projects. We thank them for their hard work.”
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