Thursday, September 2, 2010

Speak up for Florida's Cyclists, Pedestrians and Trail Users!

In response to a federal order for states to trim their transportation budgets, FDOT has disproportionately cut $24.7 million in coveted Transportation Enhancements (TE) funds, along with $3 million from the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). TE is our nation’s largest source of funding for trails, walking and bicycling. These funds are highly prized and very limited.

This decision leaves behind a long list of unfunded, production-ready trail projects—including a portion of SR 207 Rail Trail in St. Augustine and the regionally significant Courtney Campbell Causeway Trail projects linking Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties.

In Florida, TE represents less than three percent of our total transportation dollars, yet accounts for nearly 22 percent of these recent reductions!

These cuts follow on the heels of two rescission orders in 2009 in which 29 percent of TE funds—more than a quarter of a year’s worth of funding—were returned. These highly disproportionate cuts are all the more difficult to justify in light of Florida’s mounting cyclist and pedestrian fatalities. Our state leaders could have opted to prioritize and fund projects that improve the safety of these users of our transportation system.

Far from an isolated incident, these recent cuts follow a similar pattern we’ve seen in Florida, in which walking and bicycling have been marginalized and under-prioritized.

Please speak up for TE and RTP to Governor Crist, gubernatorial candidates Alex Sink and Rick Scott, Florida State Transportation Development Administrator Brad Thoburn and FDOT Assistant Secretary for Intermodal Systems Development Debbie Hunt.

Florida's office of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has made it easy for you to speak up. Just click on this link and you can send a letter in less than 30 seconds!

BikeWalkLee sent a letter to Governor Crist on 8/18 asking him to take the cuts proportionately, which clearly he did not do. Click here to read the letter. If you want to learn more about how FDOT took this rescission, read BikeWalkLee's September 2nd in-depth analysis, click here.

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