Posted by: Deb Henry | 09/16/2009

FY 2010 Transportation Appropriations Bill amendments

There are several disgusting amendment being proposed to the Transportation Appropriations Bill.  Please take a minute to contact the Senators and tell them how you feel right now. The vote is today.You can see one of the letters I wrote below, and more information about these amendments at the bottom of this post.

If you would like to contact the senators via phone: Senator Bennett (202) 224-5444, Senator Hatch (202) 224-5251.

Senator,

As a transportation engineer and bicyclist in your state, I urge you to vote NO on several amendments to the FY10 Transportation Appropriations Act.  Transportation Enhancements are the major funding source for all bicycle and pedestrian programs, and infrastructure projects.

Currently, bicycling and walking account for 10% of the national mode share, yet receive less than 2% of the surface transportation funding. Each year bicycling and walking saves 1.4 billion gallons and 12 million tons of carbon dioxide emission. This is ESPECIALLY important with the air quality issues we have locally. Giving people options is critical to a stable economy as well…especially if they can get themselves to a job safely even if they cannot afford a car yet.

Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure saves lives. Nationally, 13% of all roadway fatalities involve bicyclists or pedestrians. Cutting transportation enhancement funding for bicycle and pedestrian facilities will increase the rate of fatalities for these groups. I have personally been hit by a car that did not expect to see me, even though I had the right of way. Bicycle infrastructure could have saved me from being hit and breaking my arm.

Building Bicycling and Pedestrian facilities are good for the economy. Building biking and walking infrastructure creates jobs – bike infrastructure is more labor intensive and less material intensive than building roads with many social benefits such as a greater sense of community. Sidewalks and bike lanes make streets and downtowns into destinations for shopping and entertainment. Investing in walking and biking facilities helps local business and is an investment in the local economy. There are several businesses I have discovered by biking that I would have not discovered while isolated in my car.

Additionally, a recent survey conducted by AARP, shows that 47% of the nation’s elderly currently do not feel safe crossing the streets in their neighborhoods. Older citizens have no option but to drive. The woman who hit me was 84, and may not have been on the road if she had other alternatives.

Please vote NO on S. Amendment 2370 and S. Amendment 2371.

Thank you,
Deb Henry

**********

Senator Coburn (R-OK) is offering two amendments to the FY10 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill that will strike funding for transportation enhancements.  The two amendments are S. Amendment 2370 and S. Amendment 2371.
The Transportation Enhancement program has provided between one half and three-quarters of all Federal funding invested in bicycling and walking improvements in the last 20 years. More than $250 million is at stake in fiscal year 2010 – if Coburn’s amendment is successful it will affect hundreds of trail projects, sidewalks, bicyclist education programs, bike rack on bus programs, and roadway improvements for bicyclists.
S. Amendment 2370 prohibits funding for transportation enhancements if the Highway Trust Fund does not contain amounts sufficient to cover unfunded highway authorizations.
S. Amendment 2371 allows states to opt out of the 10% set aside rule that require states to spend at least 10% of their surface transportation funding on transportation enhancements.
We expect the amendments to be offered and voted on during Senate floor debate tomorrow, Wednesday, September 16.
***********

Alarming news: Senator John McCain has just proposed 20 amendments to a transportation funding bill that have one common theme: Breaking a federal promise to fund long-planned public transportation projects.

As one news report said, “McCain’s targets range from a light rail project in Sacramento, California to a bus-rapid-transit system in Washington state to a rail extension linking Washington, D.C. to Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia.” Other projects, both urban and rural, would be cut in Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Michigan, North Carolina, and Utah.

Aside from one small, token bridge project, McCain’s hit list would leave billions in highway earmarks alone.

Senators are expected to vote TODAY on these amendments: Please write your senators now and tell them to vote NO on this assault on clean, oil-saving transportation projects – and to encourage their colleagues to do the same.

And that’s not the only threat.

Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma has proposed seven additional amendments to block the Department of Transportation from spending any money on clean transportation. Sen. Coburn would completely bar communities from using their federal funding to support bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

We have to stop this today: Tell your senators to vote against the McCain and Coburn amendments and stop this assault on communities that are building a transportation network for this century, rather than the last one.

Thank you for your commitment to a clean, safe, 21st century transportation system!

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