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Florida and Kansas Reverse Course on Spurned Trails Funding

It wasn’t too long ago we reported that 48 states had elected to preserve funding for recreational trails, after the new transportation bill made it possible for states to “opt out” of much of the funding for active transportation.

Kansas City's Riverfront Heritage Trail (the Missouri side) was paid for with a $100,000 grant through the Recreational Trails Program. Kansas had chosen to "opt out" of this program, but has since redoubled its commitment. Photo: Trails Blog

That seemed like a good sign, but what followed is more encouraging still. The two states that had chosen to reject funds — Florida and Kansas — both have since done an about-face. Just days after the announcement, the Florida DOT was telling local newspapers it still intended to spend the full $2.6 million available on trails.

Now this news from the other holdout: Kansas. Randy Rasa at the Kansas Cyclist reports that after “opting out,” Kansas has decided to spend more than the available sum:

After opting out of the federal Recreational Trails Program, which would have provided $1.3 million in dedicated funding for trails in Kansas, the Kansas Department of Transportation announced that Kansas will instead devote $2 million to trails in Kansas.

Kansas was one of only two states to opt out of the Recreational Trails Program, which was a huge black eye for the state. KDOT and Governor Brownback took a bit of a beating, from both Kansans and from the national press.

It was heart-warming to see the outrage that the opt-out generated — a lot of people really do care about trails. They understand their importance for transportation, for health and wellness, for tourism.

And now Kansas is able to invest $2 million into trails, rather than the $1.3 million that would have come from opting in to the Recreational Trails Program. So that’s great news!

Maybe we should rescind the “boo” we offered to Kansas and Florida last time we wrote about this.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Spacing Toronto writes that the removal of the Jarvis Street bike lane is premised on a false dichotomy between motorists and cyclists. The Rails to Trails Blog reports more and more cities — including Detroit, New Orleans and Chicago — are reusing old industrial space, a la New York City’s High Line. And the FABB blog describes a situation that sounds familiar: a Virginia “pedestrian district” that’s none-too-friendly to cyclists, or even pedestrians.