The Senate is scheduled to vote Tuesday on an amendment to the 2012 transportation funding bill that would prevent TIGER funds from being spent on bicycle/pedestrian improvements, sidewalks, trails, streetscapes and other Enhancement projects. It would also transfer 10% of TIGER funds, or $55 million, to the highway bridge program.
Why transfer to bridge program? The sponsoring Senators are almost certainly legitimately concerned about an underfunded program to fix deteriorating bridges, but it’s also a smart political move that could secure a few more votes.
60 votes are required to pass the amendment, and that’s unlikely to occur. Any modifications to the amendment would require unanimous consent of the Senate ( due to a bipartisan agreement on the bill’s amendments)- which won’t happen. It will be the third time in a month that Transportation Enhancements funding has been targeted, and it won’t be the last. During one recent fight, bicycle advocates demonstrated their lobbying muscle by generating over 75,000 emails to lawmakers in 48 hours groups.
Commenting on this week’s fight Caron Whitaker, Campaign Director for America Bikes, notes that many TIGER III grant applications (which are due today) will include some Enhancement aspects. I wonder how USDOT would score and handle those applications if the amendment passes.
The League of American Bicyclists has an action alert for bike-ped advocates.