Dear Campaign Advocate,
I’d like to give you a brief update on the frenetic activity during the past week surrounding transportation reauthorization.
Last Friday night, Nov. 4, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) received the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works’ (EPW) bill to reauthorize the nation's surface transportation policy for two years, the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” (MAP-21). With major changes to Transportation Enhancements (TE), Safe Routes to School and the Recreational Trails programs from the previous transportation bill (SAFETEA-LU), we were gravely concerned that the core programs that fund trails, walking and bicycling nationally would be largely undercut by this legislation.
With draft language coming out of the EPW Committee on Friday and mark-up scheduled for yesterday, advocates were given an extremely short amount of time to digest and interpret the legislation and work with key Senate offices to improve on MAP-21. This national organizational sign-on letter that RTC authored and delivered to all members of the EPW Committee yesterday morning before the mark-up documents some of the concerns we had with the legislation and identifies amendments we had helped to generate that could improve the bill.
At the mark-up yesterday, the EPW Committee passed MAP-21 amid strong bipartisan support. The bill language as filed boded very poorly for walking and bicycling—including reduced funding for our core programs and a much expanded list of programs eligible to compete for those dollars. Although we remain concerned about several aspects of the bill, we made progress on one front as Senator Barbara Boxer (Calif.) filed a manager's amendment that struck several road-oriented eligibilities from the new pot consolidating the three core programs.
Also introduced were helpful amendments by Senators Merkley (Ore.) and Cardin (Md.). Although withdrawn to be considered at a later stage, these two amendments press for improvements to the bill such as additional funding and better local access to funds.
The legislation will next go to the Senate floor after the Senate Banking and Commerce Committees pass their relevant titles, and the Finance Committee finds $12 billion to close the gap between projected Highway Trust Fund revenue and the $109 billion two-year bill price tag.
Please stay tuned as we continue working with local, state and national partners and with Congress to best protect and enhance the opportunities for trails and active transportation nationally.
Vice President of Policy and Trail Development