Asphalt isn’t the only transportation answer
Last week I got to lead groups of planning professionals in town for a national smart-growth conference on walking tours of the Bird Rock neighborhood in La Jolla. Bird Rock is now considered a model for how cities can re-make older, urban neighborhoods and turn them into thriving, walkable places where small businesses can flourish. In fact, the conference program book posed the question, “Could Bird Rock be America’s Most Remade Street?”
I wrote about Bird Rock in this blog last fall, about how, as a City Councilman, I worked with residents and business owners who created a new vision for what was then a dreary corridor of empty storefronts that drivers treated as a thoroughfare. A portion of this $5.6 million project was funded with federal transportation funds aimed at building pedestrian and bike-friendly communities.
Last week, the House Transportation Committee, supported by the Republican leadership, proposed to gut the alternative transportation fund, jeopardizing not just funds for neighborhood projects such as these, but also for all forms of public transportation — and for projects that support alternative transportation like biking and walking — that many Americans count on to get to work and school. This assault on transit couldn’t come at a worse time. When the economy is struggling and gas prices are high, people need all types of affordable and reliable transportation.
The bill also takes away the small portion of Federal Transportation funding sent aside for bike paths, to make communities friendlier for pedestrians, and to create safe passage ways for kids to walk to school. Yet, it leaves completely intact funds for more monstrous highway projects that will lead to more cars on the road, more air pollution, and more dependence on fossil fuels. It’s just bad policy all the way around; it’s bad for our children, our neighborhoods, for small businesses that rely on foot traffic to succeed, and it’s bad for our environment.
This outrageous move essentially rolls back 30 years of federal transportation policy that sets aside a small share of gas tax revenues to fund transit. If approved, long-term stability for public transportation projects, which often take years to build, will be gone. States, cities, communities and their transit systems could lose billions.
For more information about this terrible proposal, go to this link http://t4america.org/blog/ and let your representatives know that you support neighborhoods, walkable communities, bike paths and dedicated funding for affordable mass transit.