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Stimulus bill has $800 million dollar treat for walking and bicycling

February 25, 2009

Despite all the bad news about the economy, the stimulus bill is set to provide a big boost to states for walking and bicycling infrastructure, so-called “transportation enhancements.” Learn more about how much money is available in each state, and how you can recommend specific projects for your state.

The recently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provides $27 billion in surface transportation funding nationwide.  Of that $27 billion, 3 percent is designated for the Transportation Enhancements program, amounting to $800 million.  For comparison, the current federal funding bill, SAFETEA-LU, sets aside about 1.7 percent for the Enhancements program. Furthermore, bicycling and walking projects are still eligible for funding from the full $27 billion dollar kitty.

The Transportation Enhancements program funds 12 categories of projects, but is largely bicycle and pedestrian-oriented, with nearly half of funds going to bike/ped infrastructure.

The really special news here is that the ARRA does not include an obligation ceiling, so that the funding states receive can be fully spent.  Further, without the wiggle room provided by the obligation ceiling, states will not have the option of shifting funds away from the Enhancements program and to more highway-oriented programs like the National Highway System or Interstate Maintenance programs.

The bottom line is that each state will receive a significant amount of federal funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects.  And provisions in the ARRA stipulate that they must spend that funding quickly or risk losing it.

This offers a unique opportunity for bicycle and pedestrian advocates to get immediate funding for “shovel ready” projects.  But state DOTs must include those projects in their “wish lists.”  You can make sure your state spends this money on projects that are important to you by contacting your state and local legislators (and DOTs)  and ask them to advocate for bike/ped projects in state stimulus wish lists.