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In early July, we notified you about a $2.5 billion rescission ordered by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Due to the extremely short notice (one week) given to states to determine from which programs they would rescind, and the possibility of an impending strong focus on a reauthorization bill, we did not issue a grassroots action alert to protect core trail, walking and bicycling programs.
However, we did ask you to consider whether you could work with your state DOT to encourage a rescission that did not disproportionately target core programs.
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s (RTC) analysis summarizes how each state treated Transportation Enhancements (TE) and the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) in this rescission. Nationally, although TE’s share of states’ apportionments is only about two percent, this program comprised nearly 11 percent of the total amount rescinded. See the analysis now.
While these cuts to TE were not as draconian as last year’s rescission (about 26 percent of total), the once again disproportionate rescission of TE funds serves as another reminder of what would happen without protected, dedicated funding.
Although many states were balanced in their decisions—or even protected these core programs from any cuts at all—in general, such a disproportionate national response is extremely troubling. A major sticking point as Congress debates a federal transportation reauthorization is whether or not there should be dedicated funding for core walking and bicycling programs, or whether states should be able to exercise discretion on how—and ultimately if—they will fund these programs. The results of this rescission, and several others previously, foreshadows quite clearly the lack of priority that states will give to crucial walking and bicycling programs if dedicated funding is eliminated.
Since states cannot uniformly be relied on to adequately prioritize active transportation, Congress should reflect the will of people and communities around America by upholding dedicated funding for trails, walking and bicycling in the next transportation reauthorization.
If your state disproportionately targeted TE or RTP in this rescission, please consider what actions you can take with your state leadership or decision-makers to either prevent such disproportionate cuts in the future or to restore some of the funds moving forward.
As always, we stand ready to assist in your efforts.
Vice President of Program