America Walks Works to Protect TAP Funds in Highway Trust Fund Bill
July 24, 2014
Congress is heading towards enactment of a short-term extension of the legislation required to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent, but pedestrian and cycling advocates have been working hard to fight off efforts to repeal Transportation Alternatives Program funds. The Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014, H.R. 502 , passed by the Senate and awaiting action in the House, will temporarily shore up the Highway Trust Fund only until May 2015.
America Walks has been participating in meetings recently to urge members of Congress to keep the trust fund solvent while moving expeditiously towards enactment of a long-term, bipartisan reauthorization measure. Many walking and bicycling advocates had sought an extension of the fund only until the end of December 2013, hoping the shorter timeline would force action on a long-term solution during the post-election Congressional session this fall.
America Walks is particularly concerned that Congress protect funding for the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), which has come under assault in the Senate in particular in recent weeks. “The TAP provides funding for programs and projects defined as transportation alternatives, including on- and off-road pedestrian and bicycle facilities, infrastructure projects for improving non-driver access to public transportation and enhanced mobility, community improvement activities, and environmental mitigation; recreational trail program projects; safe routes to school projects; and projects for planning, designing, or constructing boulevards and other roadways largely in the right-of-way of former Interstate System routes or other divided highways,” according to the Federal Highway Administration.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), introduced a proposal during Senate Finance Committee action on the bill that would have eliminated funding for TAP. While Toomey eventually withdrew his amendment for procedural reasons, Sen. David Vitter, (R-La), Ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, then floated a proposal to repeal TAP as well as a separate section of the transportation law that addresses bicycle transportation and pedestrian walkways. While TAP supporters are cautiously optimistic these efforts to repeal the program will fail, there is growing concern that repeated attacks on the program may leave it vulnerable as Congress hammers out a longer-term measure next year.
Congress soon will be heading home for its traditional August recess. What can you do to help? While Congress is in recess in coming weeks, you can call or write your Senator and Member of Congress and urge them to support the TAP and resist any future efforts to repeal it. Please remind them that the nation needs a four to six year reauthorization measure that provides needed incentives and support for alternative transportation measures.