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Senate transportation package ignores people who walk, bike or take transit

BAW_Logo_color 2For many, last week’s transportation package out of the state House was a bitter pill. On one hand, the state desperately needs to pass a funding bill to repair our crumbling infrastructure, maintain and expand transit service and upgrade safety for people walking, biking and driving around the state.

But even though the House bill would provide an unprecedented amount of money for walking and biking projects, it would also spend many billions of dollars on new and expanded highway mega projects. This is a very bitter pill for many across the state. There was a healthy debate among people who want those biking and walking funds to pass, but could not accept also funding so many huge highway projects like the controversial and divisive Columbia River Crossing in the Portland/Vancouver area. The question seemed to be: Is $370 million for biking and walking projects enough sugar to help the bitter highway spending pill go down?

Blake Trask with the Bicycle Alliance of Washington argued that, yes, a lot of good would come from that funding. He urged in a guest post here on Seattle Bike Blog that people should support the transportation bill if — and only if — this funding was included.

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But now, the Senate has released its own transportation bill, which does not include any funding for projects to improve transportation for people who walk, bike or take transit, and only temporary local funding options to prevent bus cuts.

That’s clearly not going to work, and state transportation groups like the Bicycle Alliance of Washington and the Transportation Choices Coalition are urging people to write their senators and tell them you reject this plan outright.

The House plan is a bitter compromise already. The Senate plan is unacceptable.

From BikeWA:

The state senate just released a proposal for new transportation revenue to fund the old transportation system—not a system for our future.

Their proposal ignores what it takes to ensure all people have an opportunity to get to where we need to go. It ignores biking and walking. It takes us back, not forward. We need you to speak up immediately and say it’s not good enough.

What do they propose?

No money for bicycling.
No money for pedestrians.
No money for transit.
Nearly nothing for clean water infrastructure.
And only temporary local funding options to prevent more cuts to bus service.

We have a transportation crisis. Bridges are falling down, bicyclists and pedestrians are navigating dangerous streets, transit service is being cut in half, and toxic runoff from roads pollutes our waters.

The Senate’s plan to “fix” it? Increase the gas tax by 10.5 cents to raise $8.4 billion and spend nothing ($0.00) on the infrastructure that makes our communities better and healthier.

This is not a compromise.  It’s terrible. And we need you to stop it in its tracks. Today is the last day of the special session so we must get our message through immediately.

How to contact your senator, you ask? TCC has created this handy contact tool, or you can follow the following directions from BikeWA:

Contact your legislator. Enter your mailing address on the district finder form (choose Legislative, not Congressional) and follow the instructions on the site to reach a contact form.

Choose your state senator and include a copy to your state representatives. Your message: A transportation revenue proposal without biking, walking, and transit is unacceptable.

Points you could include in your email:
A transportation system that really works for everyone must include bike, pedestrian, and transit investments.
Without these investments the proposed Senate transportation revenue package is absolutely unacceptable. Our transportation system is in crisis. Failure to propose a balanced transportation revenue package is irresponsible.
The House plan that includes $420 million for transit, $370 million for bike and pedestrian infrastructure, $156 million for clean water infrastructure, and a real local funding option for transit agencies is the bare minimum that must be included in the revenue package.
Transit, bike, pedestrian, and clean water infrastructure are critical for reducing congestion and creating stronger, healthier communities where you can live, work, learn, and connect safely to essential services.

We can fix this but only if you take action right now.

Thank you for all you do for cycling in Washington.

— The Bicycle Alliance team

P.S. This bad proposal fails to meet the most basic needs to help Washingtonians to get safely to wherever they need to go. Public polling shows time and time again that Washington voters support fixing our broken roads and bridges and funding transit, bike, and pedestrian infrastructure more than new highways. But this new proposal would spend $3.6 billion on new mega-highway expansions and $0 on transit, bicycling, and pedestrians. This is outrageous. Email your legislators now!

Our blog post as a reminder of what the House package needs to include as a bare minimum: http://bicyclealliance.org/2013/04/19/a-down-payment-on-a-connected-future/

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7 responses to “Senate transportation package ignores people who walk, bike or take transit”

  1. Peri Hartman

    Thanks, Tom! I just posted using TCC.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      Cool. I am a little confused by their language saying “No Compromise!” I feel like this makes them come off as unreasonable when, in fact, the House version is already a bitter compromise. So it should be more like: “We’ve already compromised, now it the Senate’s turn” or something more catchy.

  2. Jason

    What does this mean for the “bike master plan”? Will there ever be any cycle tracks built or is that just political rhetoric as well?
    It’s been shown time and time again that more and bigger roads do nothing about congestion except add to it and make it worse. Like the article said, they’re just funding the old transportation system. Why are they completely inept at looking at better ways of doing these things?

    1. Gary

      “why are they inept?”… concrete, gasoline, automobile lobbies

      1. Jason

        Right, they’re not inept when it comes to keeping the staus quo. Isn’t there a non-automobile lobbying group that lobbies for bikes, peds and mass transit? I’d like to think there is, but how much do our legislators listen to them? Please post links, if there are any.

      2. Gary

        Well in NYC they are worried about the all powerful “BikeLobby”

  3. scott t

    i suppose transportion equillibrim makes sense. if more electric cars are expected in the future would that not obliterate a lot of fuel costs for commuters and encourage more cars and driving….and more roads?

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