Trails News, alerts Calendar Resources, archives Newsletter Member groups About us Join us
AmericanTrails.org
Tree trunks photo
Tree trunks photo
American Trails Action Alert: Transportation Enhancements

 

ACTION

Thanks to everyone who contacted your Representative on Wednesday, September 3, asking them to vote to restore guaranteed funding for the Transportation Enhancements program. THe vote was successful in preserving TE funding. Please watch for more information on the process of resuthorization of the entire SAFETEA program, which provides funds for trails, bike/ped facilities, and many other important programs.

To CONTACT ANY MEMBER at their D.C. office, you can call the U.S. Capital Switchboard: 202-224-3121 and ask to be transferred. To locate your Representative on the Web go to: www.house.gov.

For America Bikes' useful excerpts from newspaper editorials, see: http://www.magnetmail.net/images/clients/AmTrails/attach/TEpress.doc.

Also, Outside Magazine headlined an article on this issue today. They claim a reach of approximately 2 million readers. To read, go to: http://web.outsideonline.com/news/headlines/20030902_1.html

To find editorials/articles from across the country, there's a good selection on the Rails-to-Trails website: http://www.railtrails.org/../news/mediacoverage/default.asp

Thank you for your prompt action! Every vote is critical! With your help, this program can still be saved!

--Pam Gluck, Executive Director American Trails

TALKING POINTS

  • Some Congressional offices have been saying that the full House Appropriations Committee "fixed the problem" from Representative Istook's original bill by giving States the flexibility to use these funds for either highway or TE projects. The decision to eliminate funding for TE while maintaining eligibility for TE activities appears to have even misled some Congress members. If left as is, states will have the authority over how these funds are spent.

Congress established the TE program in 1991 as a guarantee to their constituents that a small percentage of their gas tax dollars would be targeted to small-scale, community-initiated, locally selected transportation projects. H.R. 2989 breaks that promise, and contradicts the intent of ISTEA and TEA-21 to provide balanced, intermodal transportation networks.

Congress created the program because state departments of transportation were simply not investing in projects supporting bicycling, walking, trails, scenic or historic preservation, and other enhancements to the transportation system.

  • Proponents of the funding cut say revenues are falling and the economy is tight and therefore cuts must be made — but H.R. 2989 actually increases the transportation budget by $4.5 billion over the Administration’s funding request.
  • Core elements of the Administration’s new six-year transportation reauthorization proposal — SAFETEA — address mobility, access, safety and personal choice of travel modes. President Bush’s HealthierUS Initiative recognizes the importance of creating, enhancing and promoting environments that make it easy for people to be physically active in their daily lives through changes in community design, transportation and architectural policies, and programs.
  • The long-term impact of the TE program has already resulted in more transportation options that allow for incorporating active living into daily activities and routines; and changes in local community design, transportation, and architecture make it easier and more inviting for people to be physically active. Just think what another 6 years will bring!
  • Surveys by groups as diverse as AAA, STPP and America Bikes show that Americans want more than just highways for their transportation dollars.
  • Since 1991, the TE program has provided $6 billion for state and local transportation projects. Fifty-five percent ($3.3 billion) has gone for bicycle and pedestrian projects. However, this still represents less than one percent of all federal transportation funding. The TE program has been the funding source for three-quarters of all bicycle and pedestrian projects implemented under ISTEA and TEA-21.
  • The TE program has supported more than 16,000 local transportation projects in almost every county and Congressional District in the country. These projects have made American communities better places to live by:
    1. Inspiring community revitalization,
    2. Creating safe places to walk and bicycle,
    3. Improving the health of families and communities through increased access to and use of trails and bikeways,
    4. Restoring historic transportation infrastructure, and
    5. Sparking hometown pride.
  • Nationally, 13% of traffic fatalities are bicyclists and pedestrians, while receiving less than one percent of federal transportation funds. Not only does TE address the "safety" issue by providing safe places to walk and bike, but studies show that increasing bicycle and pedestrian trips can decrease the danger by making these modes more visible and more a part of the normal traffic flow.

The ACTION

Under H.R. 2989, absent Sec. 114, Transportation Enhancements would receive approximately $812 million per year. (In the last year of TEA-21, the TE share was about $600 million.)

Please contact your US Congress Representative before Labor Day. Ask them to vote to restore guaranteed funding for the Transportation Enhancements program. Ask them to vote in favor of Representative Petri’s amendment to strike Section 114 from the transportation appropriations bill (H.R. 2989). Better yet, ask them to co-sponsor Representative Petri’s amendment!

The OPPORTUNITY

Congress members are back in their districts through the end of August. This is a great opportunity to make an appointment to see them. If you can’t get an appointment, please make that call or send an email or a letter.

To CONTACT ANY MEMBER (or their staff) at their D.C. office, you can call the U.S. Capital Switchboard: 202-224-3121 and ask to be transferred.

To locate your Representative on the Web: www.house.gov.

The RESOURCES

The Rails to Trails Conservancy has posted state-by-state information on projects that is extremely valuable if you are talking to your congress member or their staff. Visit http://www.railtrails.org/whatwedo/policy/tea21b.asp for Pie charts which summarize each state's spending by TE activity.

Visit the Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse: www.enhancements.org.

Visit the American Trails Website: www.americantrails.org.

The WAYS YOU CAN HELP

  • Visit, call, and/or write your US Congress Member immediately — tell them about the projects in their District that have benefited from this program and what the funds will mean to future projects and quality of life. Ask them to co-sponsor Representative Petri’s amendment.
  • Call Representative Petri’s office and thank him for sponsoring the amendment: 202-225-2476. (This is VERY important!)
  • Try to get an interview on a local talk radio show (public radio can be a very good forum).
  • Ask your Mayor and County Supervisor to write a letter or pass a resolution to keep these funds local (sample resolution is attached).
  • Write an article or letter to the editor or take a reporter out on a favorite trail that is dependant on the Transportation Enhancements fund for completion.

The FEEDBACK

After you have spoken with your Congressional office, please provide feedback to me at pam_gluck@americantrails.org and to RTC's Manager of Trails Advocacy, Ken Rosenfeld, at rtckenr@transact.org.  We are in an information loop with the rest of the Transportation Enhancements Coalition and our allies in Congress. Please forward a copy of any articles written in "your community" and resolutions you secure.

Every vote on this bill will be critical!

Thank you for your help!

Pam

Pam Gluck, Executive Director

American Trails

P.O. Box 491797

Redding, CA 96049-1797

530-547-2060

fax: 530-547-2035

Pam_Gluck@AmericanTrails.org

Support the work American Trails does to serve the trails community: http://www.americantrails.org/JOINAMTR.html

Plan now to attend American Trails' 17th National Trails Symposium, October 21-24, 2004 in Austin, Texas. See details on the American Trails website: www.AmericanTrails.org.


Updated September 11, 2003
Tree trunks snow photo