The Heritage Foundation recently took aim at some of the Texas trails’ projects that were included in the SAFETEA-LU transportation bill as “frivolous pork barrel spending.”
There appears to be growing pressure to redirect dollars from the SAFETEA-LU transportation bill to the Gulf Coast for relief and construction in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The Heritage Foundation recently proposed that lawmakers should cut programs across the country in the transportation bill and direct those funds to help rebuild hurricane-damaged areas of the Gulf Coast.
According to an article by Foundation staff member, Ronald D. Utt, “One way to show such sacrifice and resolve would be to agree to shift at least half of the $25 billion dollars that the recently enacted highway bill (SAFETEA-LU) dedicates to frivolous pork barrel spending in local communities around the nation.” Many of these so-called frivolous programs directly affect the Texas bicycling community.
Utt’s list of “Texas’ low-priority highway bill projects that could perhaps be put to higher use powering Louisiana or Mississippi’s economic engine” include
- $800,000 for regional bicycle routes on existing highways in Austin ;
- $3,820,000 to construct Mission Trails Project Packages 4 & 5 in San Antonio ;
- $750,000 to construct a pedestrian/bicycle trail in the Sunnyside area of Houston ;
- $3,300,000 to build a bike trail at Chacon Creek in Laredo ;
- $600,000 to construct bicycle and pedestrian trails in Houston ’s historic Third Ward;
- $7,680,000 for the Bicycle and Pedestrian Trail Network in East Austin ;
- $800,000 to design and construct the Cottonwood Trail pedestrian-bicycle connection in Dallas ;
- $1,600,000 for the Austin to Manor Rail Trail; and
- $1,000,000 for improvements in Cottonwood Trail.
To read the Heritage Foundation articles, please visit these links:
Texas Bicycle Coalition, together with lawmakers and supporters, spent many years advocating for these important bicycle transportation projects. Coalition staff is working on a coordinated response to the Heritage Foundation’s proposal. Look for a member action alert in the near future.