Caltrans agrees to spare bicycling and pedestrian funding from federal cutbacks.
Every year, as part of a process to ensure timely delivery of transportation projects, the U.S. government asks for some of its transportation money back. Then, in decisions that have as much to do with politics as they do with project readiness, state DOTs rescind a disproportionate share of funding dedicated for bicycling and walking improvements. Last year, Caltrans was among the ten worst states in this regard, with 43% of the money it returned ($88 million!) coming from the “Transportation Enhancements” category even though that bicycle-friendly category represents only returning 2.2% of the state’s federal funding.
With this year’s rescissions deadline looming recently, we said, “enough is enough.” Thanks to Laura Cohen of the Rails to Trails Conservancy and the voices of bicyclists organized by the California Bicycle Coalition, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, the understanding of Caltrans Deputy Director Marty Tuttle, among others, the California Transportation Commission just decided that not a single dollar of transportation enhancements money will be returned this year!
We made a difference! Caltrans also has adopted a policy that will make it easier for Enhancements projects to be delivered quickly so that rescissions from this category are even less likely in the future. The CBC will work with its partners throughout the state now to ensure that the Enhancements funding we get to keep is put to good use, and quickly!
“It’s nice to savor a victory in the midst of all the federal policy struggles,” said Ms. Cohen.