Current legislation, issues, and action
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MAP-21: Federal Transportation funding programs
This page provides the facts on current issues, debates, and the ongoing efforts of American Trails to continue its 25 years of support for positive policies and funding for trails and greenways. Please join our efforts to document the value of trails and bicycle/pedestrian facilities as transportation infrastructure, and be an active and positive voice in the reauthorization process as well as economic stimulus proposals.
NEWS: Appropriations bill keeps 2015 Federal land management spending intact. According to Dec. 19, 2014 Federal Parks & Recreation, funding levels for Federal lands and related recreation programs would be nearly unchanged from FY2014.
For the federal side of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) the law appropriates $165.7 million, or $21 million less than the $187 million in fiscal 2014. For the state side of LWCF it appropriates $48 million, or the same as the $48 million in fiscal 2014. Although the appropriators okayed some money for LWCF they did not include a provision to extend the program beyond fiscal 2015, to the consternation of conservationists.
ALERT: The current federal transportation funding bill will expire May 31, 2015. The challenge for the House and Senate in working on a new bill is to agree on a new source of money to complement gasoline taxes that feed the Highway Trust Fund. As fuel economy increases, and more hybrids, electrics, and natural gas-powered vehicles enter service, less funding is available. Congress has had to appropriate additional money from the general fund to cover the shortfall in transportation. Bike/ped and trail programs may be in even more jeopardy if the funding crisis is not addressed.
ALERT: The House approved HR 3979 on December 4 to fund a wide variety of national parks initiatives. According to Dec. 19, 2014 Federal Parks & Recreation, the bill includes funding for additions to several national park units and extend several national heritage areas. It would also authorize the Treasury Department to mint $5 gold coins, $1 silver coins and half-dollar coins during 2016 for the NPS Centennial. The provisions are part of an omnibus bill, titled "National Defense Authorization Act," which includes many add-on programs. Read more...
ALERT: Another try for ADT designation: National Discovery Trails Act of 2013 (H.R. 3022 and S. 2346)
July 21, 2014: A hearing is scheduled for Jul 23, 2014 (2:30) p.m by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources - Subcommittee on National Parks. S. 2346 would (1) establish a national system of discovery trails under the National Trails Act and (2) designate the American Discovery Trail the first unit of the discovery trails. See S. 2346 Bill Summary and Status...
June 20, 2014: Trail Stewardship Act would direct the Secretary of Agriculture to publish in the Federal Register a strategy to significantly increase the role of volunteers and partners in National Forest System trail maintenance, and for other purposes. This bill was assigned to a congressional committee on June 18, 2014, which will consider it before possibly sending it on to the House or Senate as a whole. Read more...
May 3, 2014: The Obama administration unveiled a new plan for Federal transportation programs, which has included funding for trails as well as bicycle/pedestrian facilities and related programs. Trail advocates are closely watching these developments to ensure that such funding continues. Read more...
ALERT: Senators support continuation of the Recreational Trails Program
See the final Senate Dear Colleague Letter signed by 24 Senators with 18 Democrats and 6 Republicans (pdf 1.4 mb)
April 29, 2014: The Coalition for Recreational Trails has been working with members and staff of the United States Senate to boost awareness of and support for the Recreational Trails Program. U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jim Risch (R-ID), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Richard Burr (R-NC) have released a Dear Colleague letter to the Senate Transportation Committee, supporting the continuation of the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) in the next surface transportation authorization bill.
Sept. 1, 2014: Signatures urged to letter asking U.S. DOT to include public health considerations in their proposed Transportation Planning rule
The Partnership for Active Transportation is circulating a sign-on letter to encourage the U.S. Department of Transportation to require the inclusion of public health considerations in transportation planning and to improve the provisions related to walking and biking. This will ensure that safe and convenient active-transportation networks are available for millions of Americas, which will help prevent chronic diseases and premature deaths associated with a lack of physical activity and ultimately save billions of taxpayer dollars spent on health car. Read more...
The Senate voted to amend the House-passed Highway Trust Fund bill but shortened the extension time so that it expires Dec. 19, 2014. The bill now heads to President Obama for his signature. Read more...
July 1, 2014: Senators Oppose funding for Forest Service LWCF
Seven Republican senators June 26 called for zeroing out Land and Water Conservation (LWCF) funding for the Forest Service in fiscal year 2015. Read more...
July 1, 2014: Senator seeks to eliminate TAP funding
July 30, 2014: Sen. Toomey's amendment failed to gather the 60 votes of support it needed when the Senate voted on the Transportation funding bill.
July 8, 2014: Pennsylvania organizations are urged to sign a letter to Sen. Toomey prepared by the Rail-to-Trails Conservancy opposing his amendment and supporting the continuation of TAP programs, including the RTP.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) has mounted a campaign to eliminate money for the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). If accepted, the Senate Finance Committee would forbid any Highway Trust Fund money from being used for TAP, which allocates more than $700 million per year to bike/ped and recreational trails programs. Read more...
June 5, 2014: The Obama administration unveiled a new plan for Federal transportation programs, which has included funding for trails as well as bicycle/pedestrian facilities and related programs. Trail advocates are closely watching these developments to ensure that such funding continues. Read more...
The House approved its fiscal year 2015 transportation appropriations bill (HR 4745) that would bar the use of regional grant money called TIGER for recreation and trails.
May 12, 2014: A big change to funding eligibility was included in the new House Committee on Appropriations proposed budget for transportation and housing for FY 2015. What would not be eligible are what are called "non-essential purposes, such as street-scaping, or bike and pedestrian paths." Also ineligible are ADA compliance for sidewalks or recreational trails. In short the bill proposes to limit TIGER grants to projects that “address critical transportation needs,” defined as roads and bridges, ports, and freight rail.
CRT leaders met with Congressional staffers to promote continued funding for the Recreational Trails Program. They also outlined the CRT Position on Recreational Trails Program Reauthorization. The message from RTP Congressional Championsis to not wait to begin advocacy of RTP in light of announced plans by key Congressional leaders to work on MAP-21’s successor this spring. Read more...
April 2, 2014: Senators support continuation of the Recreational Trails Program
The Coalition for Recreational Trails announces a wonderful opportunity to boost awareness of and support for the Recreational Trails Program within the United States Senate. However, we have to take action by April 9!
U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jim Risch (R-ID), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Richard Burr (R-NC) have released a Dear Colleague letter soliciting signatures for a letter to Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Senator David Vitter (R-LA), Ranking Member on the Committee, supporting the continuation of the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) in the next surface transportation authorization bill.
See the Dear Colleague request and the planned letter to the EPW leadership (pdf 1.3 mb)