Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Congress extends transportation funding, looks to future

November 11, 2015

On November 5 the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act, a new multi-year transportation authorization bill. The bill, which was supported by both parties, keeps funding for trails and bike/ped programs intact.

More than 80 amendments had to be debated, including at least two that would have eliminated eligibility for funding of bikeways, trails, and other “non-highway” purposes. However, the onging problem for transportation is finding a long-term funding solution, which is not addressed by current bills.

The Senate previously passed a six-year surface transportation reauthorization bill which maintains “Transportation Alternatives” funding, including trails and bike/ped programs, at $850 million a year, up from the current $819 million. The Recreational Trails Program continues as a “set-aside” fund within the Transportation Alternatives.

The next step is that the House and Senate must reconcile the differences between their two versions and pass a compromise bill. The Coalition for Recreational Trails commented that “since the RTP was included in the legislation already passed by the Senate, we have every reason to expect that the Recreational Trails Program will be in the final version of the legislation that emerges from the House/Senate conference.

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