HELP SPEAK UP FOR BICYCLE SAFETY!
NHDOT Proposes 67% Cut to Bike/Ped Funding
The NH Department of Transportation recently released the Draft FY2013-2022 NH Ten Year Transportation Plan. This is the ten year list of programmed projects mandated under state law. The plan as a whole includes major cuts and delays to a broad range of projects, due to recent cuts in State revenue and projected cuts in Federal appropriations.
However the Plan makes disproportionate cuts to bicycle and pedestrian programs, slashing the Transportation Enhancement (TE) program by over 67% for the coming decade (~$1.3 million/year down from ~$4.0 million/year). The TE program is the primary source of funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects in New Hampshire. In addition to assuming an across the board cut of 30% in federal revenues, the Draft Plan proposes to transfer a further 50% out of TE for use on general highway projects – mainly the widening of I93.
A series of hearings on the Draft Ten Year Plan were held throughout the state in September and October. If bike/pedestrian safety advocates, trails groups and others are to be successful in protecting bike/ped funding from these disproportionate cuts, it is CRITICAL that we generate strong written comments from folks whose schedules won't allow them to make the meetings.
Some Talking Points:
- At the federal level, opponents of TE describe it as a highway beautification program. That is one allowable use of TE funding, but nationally the majority of TE funding goes to the improvement of sidewalks and bikeways, and in NH almost all TE funding goes to bike/ped facilities. These improve safety for walkers and cyclists, help reduce traffic congestion, and support economic development (Durham, Newmarket and Portsmouth have all seen TE-funded downtown sidewalk improvement).
- There is strong demand for TE funding. In the most recent biennial TE funding cycle 50 communities submitted project proposals totaling over $22 million, for a pool of only $6 million available.
- Municipalities need to provide 20% matching funding on TE projects, which helps guarantee that projects truly are local priorities.
- TE is one of the few NHDOT programs that allows small local projects to be funded in a timely fashion. Towns or trails groups can develop a project plan, generated needed matching funding, secure federal assistance, and actually complete a project within 4-5 years.
- New Hampshire has a transportation revenue problem. The state gas tax hasn't been increased since 1991, and the federal gas tax hasn't been increased since 1993. The buying power of the NH Highway Fund is 40% lower than in 1991. This together with cost increases in megaprojects such as I93 mean that many smaller projects are continually delayed or eliminated - not just bike/ped projects.
Review the full Draft Plan on the NHDOT Website
Download editable template text for written comments
Can't make it to one of the hearings?
Written comments can be submitted until November 10, 2011. Address written comments to:
William E. Watson
NHDOT Bureau of Planning and Community Assistance
John O. Morton Building
7 Hazen Drive
P.O. Box 483
Concord, NH 03302