Barbara Boxer succeeds in passing Senate Transportation Bill preserving bike funding

The Senate today voted 74-22 to pass the transportation bill S. 1813, as amended over the past week. (Need a refresher on key amendments? The final amendment tracker is right here, with amendments sorted into “transportation related” and other.)

See the official T4 America website for our statement of gratitude and support.

The passage of MAP-21, aka S. 1813, is a notable victory not only for transportation, but also for Senator Barbara Boxer. Senator Boxer worked tirelessly to craft a bipartisan bill that would satisfy her colleagues on both sides of the aisle as well as her constituency at home.

One of the trickiest plays over the past two weeks was the inclusion of the Cardin-Cochran amendment for local control in a managers’ package on March 1. Californians had much to gain from this amendment, which increased local communities’ ability to access funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects. We applaud the Senator for negotiating this and other policy points to find agreement with Senators Inhofe and McConnell, and successfully passing a bill that will make a difference for our state and the nation.

Cardin-Cochran amendment improves Senate bill, restore local control and help make streets safer
February 14, 2012
By Stephen Lee Davis

If you think your community should have a voice and the ability to make improvements like these in Seattle, tell your Senator to support the Cardin-Cochran amendment

The Senate’s transportation bill, MAP-21, goes farther than any recent transportation measure to devolve responsibility and funds down to the state level. An amendment to be debated this week would push that devolution even further – down to the local level — for a small pot of money that could make a big difference.

The Cardin-Cochran amendment (S.Amd 1549) would allow communities to build safer streets, provide more transportation options, attract new residents and businesses and spark economic revitalization in areas that desperately need it.
The amendment would give local elected leaders — who know the transportation and safety needs of their constituents best — more direct control over how to spend those funds and allow them to revitalize their communities while building out the full transportation network they need.

States usually focus on building larger projects, but those projects often need further refinements within those communities in order to function well — like new bike lanes, wider sidewalks, narrower lanes on the town’s main street, safer routes to school for children, or bus and rail stop improvements. These larger projects can also sometimes create health, safety or other mpacts that local communities are eager to address. This amendment would give them the control and the voice in these decisions that they desperately want in order to meet their own priorities.

What would this amendment do?
The Senate MAP-21 bill creates a new program called “Additional Activities” that includes a broad range of eligible projects that include Main Street revitalizations, local street safety improvements, street and boulevard redesigns, bus stop and rail station access improvements, Safe Routes to Schools, Recreational Trails, among many others — including the former programs that invested in safe walking and biking. This amendment turns that Additional Activities program into a competitive grant program for local governments and other entitites.

Communities would then be able to apply for a funds from a protected pot of dollars to build these kinds of projects that are extremely popular with local governments – and their citizens – because they promote safer, healthier communities, economic redevelopment and tourism, while creating connections to job centers, transit stops, recreational areas and other destinations.
This would restore control and choice back to local governments to invest in small projects in their communities. The state could not take the money away unless local communities didn’t apply for the funds or had no eligible ideas for how to use it. At that point the state could spend that money on other priorities. Win-win, right?

The Cardin-Cochran Amendment gives increased decision-making authority and control to local governments in cities, small towns and rural areas alike to fund transportation projects that get the most bang for the taxpayer buck.

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