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Saturday, January 1, 2011

House votes to extend Federal trails and transportation funding to Sept. 30, 2011

It was very good news to hear in late December that the U.S. House of Representatives had passed H.R. 3082 (Continuing Appropriations Act) to continue the existing SAFETEA-LU surface transportation program. With this action all trails and bike/ped programs will be extended until the end of the current federal fiscal year (Sept. 30, 2011). It is also possible that SAFETEA-LU will be extended an additional year to let the president and Congress elected in November 2012 deal with it. With the incoming congress there is a strong need to make the case that wise investment in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure provides strong economic and health benefits to our country. Quoting Eric B. Beightel, U. S. Department of Transportation Office of Transportation Policy at the National Trails Symposium 2010 in Chattanooga:

"The Transportation Enhancements and Rec Trails programs have provided almost 10 billion dollars to states since 1992 for more than 28 thousand projects. Through the life of the Congestion Management and Air Quality Improvement program almost half a billion dollars have been spent on bike and ped programs.

The Federal Lands Highway Program continues to fund projects that provide access to and within Federal Lands. All of these programs benefit local economies, particularly in rural areas. And no one knows this better than you. The Hatfield McCoy motorized trail system in West Virginia, the New River and Virginia Creeper Rail-Trails in southwestern Virginia, the Paiute ATV trail system in Utah, the Monon Trail in Indianapolis, the growing transportation and recreational trail network here in Chattanooga, and the many trail offerings in urban and rural areas across the country help communities retain jobs, attract visitors and improve the quality of life for residents and tourists alike.

Trails provide transportation choices for communities and promote healthy, active lifestyles. They connect people to recreation and business destinations and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by shifting motorists off congested roadways to more environmentally sustainable modes of transportation."

Mr. Beightel's full remarks can be found here.

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