Rep. John Sullivan’s Town Hall Opportunity to Voice Concerns on House Transportation Bill

February 17, 2012 in Complete Streets

U.S. Rep. John Sullivan

U.S. Rep. John Sullivan Source: U.S. Government / Wikimedia Commons

BIXBY – In a mass email sent Friday, Rep. John Sullivan announced he will hold a town hall meeting in Bixby on Feb. 22.

The meeting will be held at 6pm at the Rivercrest Event Center located at 13329 S. Memorial Dr.

Sullivan’s town hall presents an excellent opportunity for constituents to make their views known on the House transportation bill, HR-7, that would completely eliminate dedicated funding for bicycle/pedestrian projects, dedicated funding for mass transit, and the Safe Routes to School program.

“Town hall meetings like this give me a great opportunity to hear directly from you, my constituents,” said Sullivan in the email. “So many of the best ideas come from you and I want to give you all a chance to have your voices heard.”

Those who attend the meeting will have the opportunity to encourage Sullivan to vote no on HR-7 or support the bipartisan Petri (pronounced pea-TRY) Amendment that would preserve dedicated funding for activities that previously qualified for federal funding under Transportation Enhancements (TE) and Safe Routes to School (SRTS).

The Petri Amendment consolidates TE and SRTS into the Transportation Improvement Program and would ensure that local governments — cities and counties — would have an opportunity to weigh in on transportation decisions. Cities like Bixby and Tulsa could use the money to improve biking and walking in their communities if they choose.

Petri’s previous amendment to HR-7 that aimed to restore dedicated funding to bike/ped programs failed by only two votes. Sullivan could be a key swing vote to put Petri’s new amendment over the top. This go around, Petri’s amendment focuses on ensuring local governments have a voice in decisions on how to use the funds.

The way the bill is currently written, funding for bike-pedestrian programs would no longer be required to be used on bike-ped projects, and the money would be given to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, whose core competency is building highways. It is unlikely ODOT would decide to spend the money on bike-ped projects in such a scenario.

The amendment’s original cosponsors include Representatives Petri, Johnson, Lipinski, LaTourette, Blumenauer, and E. B. Johnson.

Complete Streets Resolution Approved Unanimously by Tulsa City Council

February 3, 2012 in Complete Streets

PDF File: Complete Streets Resolution Approved by City Council

TULSA – The Tulsa City Council unanimously passed a Complete Streets resolution at Thursday night’s meeting.

The resolution directs city staff to design, plan and operate streets to “provide for a balanced, responsible, and equitable way to accommodate all users including pedestrians, bicyclists, public transit riders, freight providers, emergency responders and motorists.”

The resolution also directs city staff to develop a Complete Streets Policy Guide and attend training to stay educated on the latest and best practices.

Councilor Blake Ewing explained his support for Complete Streets by highlighting its context-sensitive nature.

“What might be really appropriate in the TU area might be wildly inappropriate in South Tulsa,” said Ewing.

“We’ve oftentimes, in planning our streets, had kind of a one-size-fits-all kind of approach”, said Ewing. “I think this is fixing something, in fact, that may have been broken.”

Councilor Phil Lakin expressed excitement for the resolution because “when we do have widening projects, we will be able to add sidewalks at the same time as the streets are being widened, which is a much more efficient use of our contractors.”

Lakin added, “then we can get our kids from the neighborhoods to the schools.”

Councilor G.T. Bynum said Complete Streets was about expanding transportation options.

“Right now, everything we do related to transportation is focused on cars,” said Bynum. “And yet, there are other options out there that might be more appropriate in different areas to allow people to get around.”

House Transportation Bill Would Eliminate Dedicated Bike/Ped Funding

January 31, 2012 in Complete Streets

Congressman John Mica (R-FL) photo: U.S. Government

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman John Mica (R-FL) announced the introduction of the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act that will eliminate dedicated funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects. The League of American Bicyclists has sent out an email asking supporters of bike/ped projects to contact their representatives:

The proposed bill eliminates dedicated funding for bicycling and walking as we feared, and it goes much further and systematically removes bicycling from the Federal transportation program. It basically eliminates our status and standing in the planning and design of our transportation system — a massive step backwards for individuals, communities and our nation. It’s a step back to a 1950s highway- and auto-only program that makes no sense in the 21st century.

The bill reverses 20 years of progress by:

  • destroying Transportation Enhancements by making it optional;
  • repealing the Safe Routes to School program, reversing years of progress in creating safe ways for kids to walk and ride bicycles to school;
  • allowing states to build bridges without safe access for pedestrians and bicycles;
  • eliminating bicycle and pedestrian coordinators in state DOTs; and
  • eliminating language that insures that rumble strips “do not adversely affect the safety or mobility of bicyclists, pedestrians or the disabled.”

On Thursday, the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee will mark-up the bill and Representatives Petri (R-WI) and Johnson (R-IL) will sponsor an amendment that restores dedicated funding for Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to School. Representatives Petri and Johnson can only be successful if everyone with a stake in safe sidewalks, crosswalks, and bikeways contacts their representative today.

 

Oklahoma Bike/Ped Biggest Loser in Senate Bill

November 9, 2011 in Bicycling, Walking

photo: pedbikeimages.org / Elvert Barnes

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) dealt a serious blow today to bike/ped funding in Oklahoma when he announced his intention to divert all of the state’s Transportation Enhancement (TE) funds from bike/ped projects to cover “unfunded mandates” under the draft bill that emerged from the Environment and Public Works committee on Wednesday.

Inhofe had the following to say in Wednesday’s committee meeting (via Streetsblog):

Sen. James Inhofe

Sen. James Inhofe speaks at Wednesday's hearing on transportation reauthorization bill. (photo: U.S. Senate webcast)

There’s a difference of opinion and philosophy here as to how much money should be spent on things like bike trails, walking trails, highway beautification, museums and all that stuff. I think the compromise we came up with is a very good one because if a state wants to use that percentage – whether it’s 10 percent as it applies to the surface transportation or two percent of the total funding — they can instead put it in areas of unfunded mandates. And I can assure you there are enough unfunded mandates we have to comply with – I’m talking about endangered species, Americans with Disabilities, Historic Preservation and all that — we can use it. In my state of Oklahoma, that’s where we’re going to use ours.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) had pledged that dedicated funding for Transportation Enhancements would remain in the bill, which it has. However, the bill basically allows states to use the TE funds, historically used only for non-motorized transportation, for any other kind of unfunded mandate they want, including highways.

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