March 14, 2012: Big win for the Recreational Trails Program! Today, the Senate approved a $109 billion transportation bill. The bipartisan bill passed by a vote of 74-22. Through a manager’s amendment, the Recreational Trails Program was saved! Here is the wording now included in the bill:
(7) CONTINUATION OF CERTAIN RECREATIONAL TRAILS PROJECTS.--Each State that does not opt out of this paragraph shall--
(A) obligate an amount of funds reserved under this section equal to the amount of the funds apportioned to the State for fiscal year 2009 under section 104(h)(2) for projects relating to recreational trails under section 206;
(B) return 1 percent of those funds to the Secretary for the administration of that program; and
(C) comply with the provisions of the administration of the recreational trails program under section 206, including the use of apportioned funds described under subsection (d)(3)(A) of that section.
(8) STATE FLEXIBILITY.--A State may opt out of the recreational trails program under paragraph (7) if the Governor of the State notifies the Secretary not later than 30 days prior to apportionments being made for any fiscal year.''.
Congratulations to all of you that worked so hard to help your Senators understand why this program is so critical to your State! Although, the bill now does allow a State to “opt out” of the program which was not in the Klobuchar Amendment (#1661), this amendment still restores dedicated funding for the program and leaves it essentially unchanged. This is a BIG win for trails!
PLEASE take a moment to thank your Senators if they supported the RTP. Also – please thank these Senators that co-sponsored the Klobuchar Amendment:
Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Richard Burr (R-NC)
Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
Jim Risch (R-ID)
Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Mark Udall (D-CO)
Michael Bennet (D-CO)
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Scott Brown (R-MA)
CLICK HERE to contact Senators. http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
Now… it is up to the House to act…
March 13, 2012: We are delighted to report that the Manager’s Amendment to MAP-21, the Senate transportation bill, containing a modified version of U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s amendment continuing the Recreational Trails Program essentially unchanged, was accepted this afternoon on the Senate floor. This is a wonderful achievement! We are very grateful to Sen. Klobuchar (D-MN) and her eight co-sponsors -- Michael Bennet (D-CO), Scott Brown (R -MA), Richard Burr (R-NC), James Risch (R-ID), Bernard Sanders (D-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Mark Udall (D-CO). Please be sure to let them know how much the trails community appreciates their leadership and support. And, of course, we are very grateful to all the members of the CRT and the CRT Council of Advisors, who delivered powerful messages of support for the RTP from all across the country. Congratulations on an incredible effort and an amazing success. Many told us this was an impossible mission, with the Congress and Administration so focused on program consolidation and opposition to non-highway spending.
March 6, 2012: The Senate voted today on Senator Reid’s (D-NV) substitute amendment (#1761) to the transportation bill (S. 1813), incorporating 37 agreed-upon amendments. They failed to invoke cloture (failed to move forward) on the Reid substitute amendment. The vote failed: Yea 52, Nay 44, Not Voting 4. (60 votes were needed to pass the amendment)
March 3, 2012: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has scheduled a vote for March 6 to shut off debate on the transportation funding bill. Sixty votes are needed to move the bill to a vote on passage, which would require a "yes" vote by every Democratic Senator and at least seven Republicans.
On March 2 an updated version of the Senate transportation bill was released with good news for bike/ped programs but not for Recreational Trails. The Cardin-Cochran Amendment was included and is expected to pass the Senate without controversy. However, the Recreational Trails Program was NOT funded, so we still need the Klobuchar Amendment to include RTP authorization as a discrete program with dedicated funding.
February 29, 2012: Senators Mark Udall (D-CO), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Michael Bennett (D–CO) joined Senators Burr (R- NC) , Shaheen (D-NH), and Risch (R-ID) have joined Sen. Klobuchar (D-MN) as co-sponsors of the Senate Amendment which would restore dedicated funding for the Recreational Trails Program. Download a copy of the Klobuchar amendment...
The Senate is expected to re-open debate on amendments proposed for the transportation bill on March 1. Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would allow votes on some of those amendments in an effort to win enough votes to move toward final passage of the bill. Senator Reid, a Democrat, said "Republicans made it clear we would not be able to move forward on this bill without a vote." He added that he hoped the Senate could finish the transportation bill by the end of next week.
February 14, 2012 - Supporting bike/ped programs in the Senate:
February 10, 2012 - Two amendments are proposed to restore funding for trails and bike/ped programs in the Senate transportation bill. The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has put together two letters of support for amendments to the Senate transportation bill (also known as MAP-21) that will support these vital programs.
The Klobuchar amendment to MAP-21, which restores dedicated funding for the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). This amendment makes the Senate bill consistent with language that is already in the House bill. Download letter to send to your Senators supporting this amendment...
The Cardin/Cochran amendment (see text of the amendment) provides protection to TE and Safe Routes by passing much of the decision making down to the local level. Download letter to send to your Senators supporting this amendment...
Concerns about the Senate bill (MAP-21)
A new "transportation mobility program" includes eligibilty for Recreational Trails, Enhancements, Scenic Byways, and Safe Routes to School, among many other bridge, highway, and environmental programs. Section 149 of USC title 23 would cover "congestion mitigation and air quality improvement" and also includes Recreational Trails eligibility. According to the committee, it also "Reforms the Transportation Enhancements program with more flexibility granted to the states on the use of the funds within the program." Download the full text of the bill, S. 1813... (pdf 1.2 mb)
Specific concerns, according to the America Bikes analysis:
1. The current dedicated funding programs for bicycling and walking are combined into one program, with significantly less funding;
2. An expanded list of eligible activities are added to this smaller funding pot, including such big‐ticket items as NEPA compliance and land acquisition for wetland mitigation; and
3. The proposed bill effectively allows states to completely opt out of the program and would allow all this money to be redirected to highway construction.
Summary of Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21)
Bipartisan Bill Outline from Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) will modernize and reform our current transportation system to help create jobs, accelerate economic recovery, and build the foundation for long-term prosperity. Specific highlights from key areas of the legislation follow.
MAP-21 authorizes Federal-aid highway programs for 2-years while maintaining current spending levels. The goal of the Committee remains attaining the optimum achievable authorization depending on the resources available and in a way that does not increase the deficit and can achieve bipartisan support. In addition, MAP-21 eliminates earmarks.
MAP-21 continues to provide the majority of Federal resources to the States through core programs using funding formulas. However, the core highway programs have been consolidated from seven in SAFETEA-LU to five, as follows:
• The National Highway Performance Program
o Consolidates the Interstate Maintenance program, the National Highway System program, and part of the Highway Bridge Program into a single program that focuses on the most critical 222,000 miles of roads in the nation.
o Provides States with increased flexibility in their use of funds if they adequately maintain the condition of their Interstate system and bridges.
• The Transportation Mobility Program
o Consolidates several existing programs to provide funds to States for projects on all Federal-aid highways and all bridges and tunnels.
o Provides for the sub-allocation of some funds to metropolitan areas and to other areas of the State based on population.
• National Freight Program
o Provides formula funds to States for projects to improve the movement of freight on highways, including freight intermodal connectors.
• Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program
o Provides funds to States for projects and programs in air quality nonattainment and maintenance areas for ozone, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter, which reduce transportation related emissions.
o Consolidates several existing programs to provide resources for additional transportation eligibilities.
• Highway Safety Improvement Program
o Provides funds to States for infrastructure improvements on all public roads to achieve a significant reduction in traffic fatalities and serious injuries.
o Improves data collection and analysis to allow States to more accurately focus funding on the most dangerous roads.
MAP-21 consolidates 87 programs under SAFETEA-LU to less than 30 programs. The activities for which dedicated funding has been removed have been consolidated into the very broad core programs, leaving States with the flexibility to fund these activities as they see fit.
America Fast Forward
MAP-21 builds upon the success of the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program to help communities leverage their transportation resources through federal credit assistance. The TIFIA program provides direct loans, loan guarantees, and lines of credit to large and nationally or regionally significant transportation projects with a revenue stream at terms that are more favorable than those available in the private sector and that will leverage private and other non-federal investment in transportation improvements. MAP-21 increases the funding for the TIFIA program from $122 million per year to $1 billion per year. Other modifications include: increasing the maximum share of project costs from 33 percent to
49 percent; allowing TIFIA loans to be used to support a program of projects, and allowing upfront commitments of future TIFIA program dollars through the use of master credit agreements. In addition, MAP-21 sets aside $100 million per year for projects in smaller cities and rural areas under lower interest rates. The Federal Highway Administration has stated that historically every Federal dollar spent through the TIFIA program can mobilize up to $30 in transportation investments.
MAP-21 focuses the highway program on key outcomes, such as reducing fatalities, improving bridges, fixing roads, and reducing congestion, in order to ensure that taxpayers are receiving the most for their money. States will set their own targets for improving safety, road and bridge condition, congestion, and freight movement.
Accelerated Project Delivery
MAP-21 includes several provisions designed to reduce project delivery time and costs while protecting the environment. Examples of improvements include: expanding the use of innovative contracting methods; creating dispute resolution procedures; allowing for early right- of-way acquisitions; reducing bureaucratic hurdles for projects with no significant environmental impact; encouraging early coordination between relevant agencies to avoid delays later in the review process; and providing incentives for accelerating project delivery decisions within specified deadlines.
MAP-21 improves the Statewide and metropolitan planning processes to incorporate a more comprehensive performance-based approach to decision making. Utilizing performance targets will assist states and metropolitan areas in targeting limited resources on projects that will most improve the condition and performance of highways and bridges.
• Federal Lands and Tribal Transportation Programs
o Provides funding for highway projects on Federal lands, tribal reservations, and roads that provide access to Federal lands.
o Agencies receiving funding include the National Park Service, the Forest Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Land Management, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Fish and Wildlife Service.
• Research and Education
o Funds research and development, technology deployment, and training and education activities to further innovation in highway and bridge construction and preservation.
o Streamlines existing research programs to focus funding on key national research areas.