Vote tonight: Oppose slashing and perverting what's left of TIGER grants now
Got this message about this from a good friend who in turn got it from the rails to trails conservancy today which mentioned that the vote would be tonight.
Casual googling led me to an earlier streetsblog article on the subject: http://usa.streetsblog.org/2014/05/07/gop-appropriations-bill-would-turn-tiger-into-a-roads-program/
Here’s the key part
GOP proposes to limit TIGER grants to projects that “address critical transportation needs,” defined as roads and bridges, ports and freight rail.
And just to be clear about what they mean, the GOP adds, “The legislation does not allow these funds to be used for non-essential purposes, such as street-scaping, or bike and pedestrian paths.” Also ineligible are transit projects that would be eligible for New Starts or other FTA grants, carpool projects, ADA compliance for sidewalks, highway and transit safety improvements, planning, congestion mitigation, intelligent transportation systems, anything related to congestion pricing (including electric toll collection and travel demand management), or recreational trails.
I fully expect anything remotely resembling this to get a swift veto even if it got through the senate (which I doubt it would), but I also think it’s rather important to let our reps hear exactly how awful we think this is.
Provided in the email,a link that pre-fills a message on the subject and just gives a submit button
If you don’t like what you see here (seems like an oddly low number of daily visitors to me if they’re trying to do do mass awareness)
or just want to go direct, you can plug your zip code below and there’s an email link for your representative
One way or another, I think we should let them hear what we think.
Having barely survived the 40 mph speed limit, twisting blind curves and no shoulder/sidewalk section (Riddle Run Road) of the Rachel Carson trail this weekend, I say that this needs more attention.
As nice as bike trails are, I agree with not using TIGER funds for them. (I would disband the program entirely actually – it looks like nothing more than a nebulous pork machine.)
Why should the federal government have anything to do with Riddle Run Road?
TIGER grants are Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery. It provides a unique opportunity for the DOT to invest in road, rail, transit and port projects that promise to achieve critical national objectives.
Funny, that the website about TIGER grants doesn’t actually list the critical national objectives they are trying to achieve.
Is increasing pedestrian / cyclist safety a national objective? Do the projects generate increased economic activity? I would say that developing the GAP trail is working to do this for many of the towns along the way, that would otherwise get little assistance otherwise.
What projects are supported by TIGER grants in our area? East Liberty Transit Center, and Carrie Furnace Flyover Bridge. Seems like they are meant to help foster economic development.
You don’t see a lot of bike-ped projects on the list, but one that I’m familiar with is Anacostia Bicycle and Pedestrian Project, which links up a lot of trails and provides enhanced access to the existing trail system. I used to live a block off of the anacostia river trail and it was a great asset connecting the suburbs of PG county, DC, and neighboring areas. This completes a last 4 mile connection to make the anacostia river trail connect across the river in to DC by RFK stadium and joining up to the trail network in DC.
Slightly OT: not a TIGER grant, but in response to folks who think gov’t spending is bad bad bad — the Hot Metal bridge budget came in a lot higher than expected, and you know what saved it? A Congressional earmark. By Senator Santorum. It was officially designated as somehow related to a national park, I think. Anyway, that’s why we have the Hot Metal Bridge, because of earmarks and Senator Rick Santorum. Think about it.
Things like TIGER grants are essential to build out the bicycle infrastructure we need. Yes, perhaps it’s not as nice and clean a source of funding as we would like. But does it really matter? It’s tax money, meaning we all pay for the bicycle infrastructure we need. Seems like a good way to do it, to me.
Earmarks (or “pork”) involve the details of how federal money is distributed. A bill will be passed allocating spending for some nationally desirable purpose. Earmarks allow representatives to identify specific projects relevant to their own districts. Otherwise the money will get allocated by the federal government.
Ideally it’s the way for reps to get useful things funded. In practice the system gets gamed (thus all the yelling).
Fun fact: The Birmingham Bridge was an earmark attached to some interstate-related bill. To get it in there it had to be spec’d as a highway bridge. Or at least that’s what I’ve been told… Anyway we now have a bridge that can actually accommodate bicycles. And, over time, a bunch of useful infrastructure.
In an ideal world, most of these local concerns would be handled (and financed) locally. I find top down funding that disproportionately directs money based on clout, not the intrinsic merits of the spending distasteful.
Distasteful, but maybe the only way to get things certain types of important things done. And I’m not just talking about the local improvements funded therein, talking about the larger bills they’re attached to. You don’t want to see how the sausage is made, but let’s be honest, you’re not getting a pristine cut of meat anyway, it’s sausage or nothing.
The benefit to the locals argument provides some political cover for a rep to vote a way they might’ve thought of otherwise, but wouldn’t have had the political courage to do otherwise.
Of course, we’re in an environment where everyone on the republican side seems compelled to market themselves as the most, well I’ll be polite, but say, the most republican of them all. So, if the political environment is just too poisoned maybe it doesn’t make a difference after all.
I can see both sides of this.
FWIW, some street scaping is designed to help with flash flooding. (not sure if any of that stuff is counted as streetscaping though, for grants.) You can see some of that down by Big Jim’s in the Run in front of the International Union of Operating Engineers building
In an ideal world, most of these local concerns would be handled (and financed) locally.
How could anyone possibly disagree!
Those peasants in central PA deserve only the infrastructure they can pay for. You know, like in Russia (sorry Mikhail).
Why should anyone care about their stupid problems? Unless you’re into that whole communitarian thing. Those people are not. Why can’t we spend our money on bike lanes and other useful stuff WE care about.
It’s hard to build long-distance transportation when every community gets to decide what mode they like best. Five miles of bike lane, five miles of railroad, five miles of toll road, five miles of monorail. (We get enough of that already, with, say, the East Busway’s path through Edgewood. No stops because they don’t like busways there.)
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