These three Illinois representatives will thankfully oppose the disastrous transportation bill

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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

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.

3 thoughts on “These three Illinois representatives will thankfully oppose the disastrous transportation bill”

  1. The problem is not over funding or underfunding of the trails. It is the misfunding of trails. These trails get funded with fuel taxes and are paid for largely out of the Highway Trust Fund. Let’s be honest with ourselves and realize that the vast majority of these trails are used for recreation. Which is great. They should be funded with recreation and parks funding mot highway funding. You will always get a battle with the trucking industry. Or maybe you would consider truck parking at trailheads?

    1. Trails are just one minuscule part of the bill. The problem has nothing to do with trails and everything to do with how the highway trust fund and mass transit accounts are funded: by flat gas taxes and constant infusions from the general fund.
      Transit, trails, bike lanes, safety programs, and walking infrastructure should most definitely be supported by gas tax revenue as a way, with very limited effectiveness, to limit driving, which has so many high costs to society (in pollution, wear and tear, crashes, fatalities, etc.) that gas taxes, as we’ve set them and had them set, don’t even begin to cover.

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