Saturday, June 30, 2012

Federal Road Funding to Decline; ODOT Should Sieze Opportunity for Least Cost Planning

ODOT released a snapshot analysis of the reduction in road funding from the 2011 budget (SAFETEA-LU) to the new 2013 budget (MAP-21).

The total is about a 7% reduction, from $518,684,306 to $483,226,388.

BikePortland has some brief thoughts, and Streetsblog writes of bike/ped stuff:
This is one of the unmitigated failures of the bill. It’s been clear for a while that the Republicans had the Transportation Enhancements program and other programs dedicated to safer biking and walking in their sights. Sen. Barbara Boxer fought to save the program, but it verged on “deal-breaker” status for Republicans. The GOP managed to paint these life-saving, community-enhancing programs as a frivolous waste of money spent planting flowers, and they hacked off a big chunk of money that used to be set aside for them. The end result is a “Transportation Alternatives” program which, according to America Bikes, cuts bike/ped funding by 60 to 70 percent. Not only is the overall pot smaller, but these funds can now be used on certain types of road projects. Worse, although half the funds will go straight to local areas to distribute, the half that goes to the states doesn’t need to be used for active transportation – they can “transfer” it to a whole host of other uses if they want. “Complete streets” language in the Senate bill that created a federal requirement for accommodation of non-motorized road users was stripped as well.
Transportation for America echoes - as does pretty much every other advocate of rational transportation policy.

The funding crunch, however, offers ODOT an opportunity to accelerate least-cost planning.

In a world of shrinking resources, we have to get smarter about allocating those resources. Since there won't be dedicated pots for walking and biking, a rational analysis will level the playing field so that the mobility of people, levels of service for people, rather than levels of service for engines, is the baseline for planning. Least cost planning should more efficient in this and be an excellent start.

The other thing is that without dedicated pots of money, Salem City Council will be tempted to stint on bike/ped funding.

In this fiscal environment it is even more important to write your Councilor and remind them of the importance of bicycling for health, for safety, for livability, and for the environment.

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