Now’s the Time to Make the House Bill Better for Walking, Biking, and Transit

The House transportation bill will be marked up by the Transportation & Infrastructure committee tomorrow morning, and advocates are fighting for amendments that would improve the provisions for active transportation and transit.

The Cherry Creek trail running from downtown Denver 40 miles out to the suburbs was partially funded by TE grants. Photo: National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse

The first amendment, introduced by Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI), would restore the Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to School programs, consolidated into a single “Transportation Improvement Program.” TE and SRTS have been two of the most important sources of funds for bicycle and pedestrian projects, and right now the House bill would eliminate dedicated funding for both programs.

According to a draft summary of the amendment, states would need to reserve an amount of money for TIP equal to the amount they currently reserved for TE and SRTS. TE-supported activities would no longer include transportation museums, depriving House leadership of one of their favorite talking points.

A second amendment would require states to prioritize bridge repair projects over the construction of new highways. As it currently stands, the House bill imposes little oversight on states that opt to spend on expanding highways.

A third amendment would provide operating assistance to transit agencies, a provision that the Senate has included in its transit bill to help prevent painful service cuts and fare hikes during economic downturns. However, neither of the bridge and transit amendments has a sponsor in the House, and all amendments must be submitted by 3:00 p.m. today in order to be considered at tomorrow morning’s markup.

Transportation for America and AmericaBikes have launched online portals for citizens to voice their support for these amendments.