Transit and highway, side-by-side, along the Kennedy Expressway in Chicago. The current and proposed funding situations are insufficient for both, as the gas tax is a flat rate that hasn’t changed since 1993. Photo by Eric Rogers.
For the past two weeks, I’ve been reporting on a transportation bill in the House of Representatives that kills funding for transit (which millions of people across the country depend on to get to work) and bicycle and walking infrastructure. There’s evidence that the bill may die on the House floor next week, thanks in part to three Illinois representatives who are voicing their opposition:
Congressmen who represent Chicago’s suburbs finally are weighing in on that transportation bill that’s due to hit the House floor next week, and they don’t like what they see.
In a flurry of statements after several days of quiet review, U.S. Reps. Robert Dold [10th district], Judy Biggert [13th district] and Adam Kinzinger [11th district] — all Republicans — flatly say or strongly suggest that they cannot support the bill drafted by House GOP leadership. From ChicagoBusiness.com.
We urge you to contact your representatives, both in the House and Senate, to explain why infrastructure funding for transit should stay tied to gas tax revenue* and that bicycle and walking infrastructure is important. There’s a disconnect between the amount of people cycling and walking to work, the amount of pedestrians dying in traffic crashes, and the amount that states spend on transportation infrastructure for use by people cycling and walking.
Nationwide, pedestrians account for nearly 12 percent of total traffic deaths. But state departments of transportation have largely ignored pedestrian safety from a budgetary perspective, allocating only about 1.5 percent of available federal funds to projects that retrofit dangerous roads or create safe alternatives. From Transportation 4 America.
In most cases, state Departments of Transportation are required to spend 1% of project funds on things like bicycle and pedestrian accommodation, or streetscape-style modifications. But the House surface transportation bill would make even that optional. Did you know that it’s estimated 6.9% of Chicago workers over 16 commute to work by walking or bicycling? Please join us in opposing this bill!
More coverage on this issue
- Why the House Transportation Bill Hits Bus Riders Especially Hard - February 10, 2012
- Six Lies the GOP Is Telling About the House Transportation Bill - February 9
- House of Representatives transportation bill fraught with bad ideas - February 2
- Do something about transportation funding, today - February 2
- Some talking points about transportation funding when you call House representatives - February 2
- Federal government update: Clean air legislation and surface transportation bill - February 7
Thank you to Chicargo Bike and Streetsblog DC for bringing this update to my attention, and to Greg Hinz at Crain’s for following the story so diligently. For more tips on why advocating for transit is important, please see the Riders for Better Transit FAQ page.
* I believe we must test different revenue methods, like pay as you drive, as well as raise the gas tax, perhaps tying it to a consumer index or inflation.
Grid Chicago is a blog about sustainable transportation matters, projects and culture in Chicago and Illinois, by John Greenfield and Steven Vance since June 2011.
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