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Big Breakthrough for Active Transportation Within Reach for Missouri

In the movement to create a multi-modal transportation system, states tend to be the toughest nut to crack. More aligned with rural interests, many state leaders seem to get a perverse thrill out of scuttling their major cities' transit plans.

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But there is some progress as well, even in political environments that might seem especially hostile to transportation reform. Last month Colorado finally overturned its ban on spending gas tax revenue on sustainable transportation. Now a major milestone in Missouri: The state may, for the first time, allow transportation money to be used to support walking, biking, and transit.

Brent Hugh at the Missouri Bicycle Federation has this report:

Today bicycling, walking, and transit took another step towards being officially recognized in the Missouri Constitution and funded by Missouri transportation dollars. The Missouri House passed SJR 16 by a vote of 100-57.

This was the final major hurdle the bill faced.  The Senate must still ratify a few technical changes made in the House resolution, which (we are hearing) could happen as soon as later today.

That means the Missouri Transportation Funding proposal will come before Missouri voters in August or November 2014.

If approved by Missouri voters, in either August or November 2014, the measure will, for the first time, completely integrate bicycling, walking, and transit funding into the Missouri state transportation system. Previously, transit and passenger rail has received a small amount of general tax funding, an amount that is debated and hard-fought every year in the Missouri General Assembly. Bicycle and pedestrian facilities, by law, receive no funding whatsoever from the Missouri state road fund.

So SJR 16, if approved by voters, will represent a fundamental change in how MoDOT does business, how Missouri transportation projects are designed, and in funding for bicycle, pedestrian, and transit projects and operations. The proposal allows, but does not require, MoDOT to spend dollars on transit, biking, and walking.  So it remains to be seen how thoroughgoing the change within MoDOT will be.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Half-Mile Circles looks at the expansion of rail and bus rapid transit lines in U.S. cities. The Get Around Blog wonders why we're investing so much energy examining the misdeeds of bicyclists, when so many motoring sins go unexamined. And, in honor of Bike to Work Day, Bike Pedantic explains how bike commuting has changed his perspective.

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