UPDATED 4:45 PM
Sen. Barbara Boxer just issued the following statement. It confirms that “half of the funds for bike paths and pedestrian walkways [will be allocated] directly to local entities,” as spelled out in the Cardin-Cochran amendment. It appears that the “opt-out” provision for states only applies to the half that they control, after local governments have their say. That’s still a blow to the Cardin-Cochran amendment, however, which required states to hold a competitive grant process to distribute their half of the funds.
As it is, the amount included for bike/ped in “Additional Activities” under the Senate bill was less than has been allotted to Transportation Enhancements, and included eligibility for many more programs, including some road projects.
Without further ado, here’s Boxer’s statement:
I am so glad that House Republicans met Democrats half way, as Senate Republicans did months ago.
The bill is funded at current levels, and it will protect and create three million jobs. This job creation is the critical focus of Democrats, because we know that the unemployment rate in construction is at an unacceptable level.
We speed up project delivery, cut red tape, and do it without jeopardizing environmental laws. For the first time, we send half of the funds for bike paths and pedestrian walkways directly to local entities, and we protect those funds while giving states more flexibility on their share.
Our country needs the kind of economic boost that this bill offers, and I am looking forward to getting it to the President’s desk.
It is ironic that in June 1956 the Senate passed its first highway bill, and thanks to the work of many committees and all parties, we will not allow that great history of our interstate transportation system to disappear.