The Trump Administration says its proposed $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan, introduced earlier this year, aims to encourage private investment in addition to buy-in from state and local governments.
Despite the big numbers being tossed around, numerous media outlets have pointed out that federal funding in the Trump Adminstration’s proposal would pay for just a fraction of the total: $200 billion over 10 years.
As National Public Radio says: “It’s a radical departure from how federal transportation and infrastructure programs have doled out funding in the past.”
While serious work on the infrastructure proposal may not occur for a few months, trail advocates have urged Congress to invest in what’s known as “Balanced Transportation.”
“Balanced transportation means investing in maintenance for our roads and bridges. It means investing in public transit and rail systems. And it means investing in trail and active transportation networks that help Americans safely get where they need to go,” write Patrick Wojahn and Kevin Mills of Rails to Trails Conservancy, a national advocacy group for active transportation. “With almost 40 percent of all trips within a 20-minute bike ride and more than 20 percent within a 20-minute walk, Americans want and need more places to safely walk and bike. Robust investment in trail, walking and biking networks is an essential part of a balanced transportation system to secure America’s future.”
Through the annual Ales for Trails celebration and other fundraisers, Billings TrailNet has demonstrated its willingness to leverage state and federal dollars with private money.
But we need our members to step forward and advocate for walking, hiking and cycling trails. Write Montana’s congressional leaders and tell them about the importance of active transportation.
Both the House and the Senate will be writing their versions of an Infrastructure bill. Please let our representatives know that these important issues need to be included in the Infrastructure Bill:
- Safety for ALL users
- Include ALL modes of transportation
- Ensure that local governments can control where the transportation dollars go
- Transportation projects build trail and bikeway networks, and fill gaps
And last, please let them know that the TIGER program is vital in funding road and trail projects in rural areas.
TIGER awards include considerations for safety, state of good repair, economic competitiveness, quality of life and environmental sustainability for each project. Secondary criteria include innovation and partnerships. The criteria used to select projects for these grants were similar to the Administration’s Infrastructure principles of supporting economic vitality and promoting innovation. In fact, Wyoming recently received a TIGER grant to reconstruct 1.6 miles of the Beartooth Highway, and according to the TIGER agency, “The reconstructed segment will include two twelve-foot travel lanes and, to accommodate bicyclists, two three-foot shoulders on each side. Improvements will also include the addition of a new bridge to improve road geometry.” We are working with Bike Walk Montana to advocate for a four foot bicycle lane.
To contact US Representative Greg Gianforte, use this link: https://gianforte.house.gov/contact/email
To contact Senator Steve Daines: https://www.daines.senate.gov/connect/email-steve
Senator Tester has been reaching out to the public to hear about what is important in this infrastructure bill. In his February newsletter he wrote:
“Earlier this month, President Trump announced his plan for a national bill. As your Senator, it’s my job to make sure any infrastructure package addresses Montana’s priorities.
Folks in Montana know best where those dollars need to go – whether it’s to fill potholes on Main Street or fix up our bridges. That’s why on Saturday I hosted my third public roundtable discussion on infrastructure in Bozeman to hear face-to-face from local leaders about what they’d like to see in an infrastructure bill. Their feedback was incredibly valuable and I’ll take it with me back to the Senate. Let me know what you’d like to see in the upcoming bill at email@example.com.”
For more information go to; www.railstotrails.org