We had a good meeting this week and moved toward developing a shoulder
position. However, I am very concerned--and have been for some years now--in
the VBPC inability to go before the two legislative transportation funds and
simply ask for more resources, particularly for faclities.
By facilities, I mean bikepaths, sidewalks, on/off street facilities, and
roundabouts. Increasingly, I believe the state where it runs its roads
through villages and downtowns must take 100% responsbility for all
pedestrian (and bicycle?)--read sidewalks--construction and maintenance,
including 100% of snow removal costs.
Running roads for cars through our downtowns and village centers is not
"multi-modal, integrated" transportation. Small towns will not seek or
accept funds for nonmotorized (the Marshfields, Pittsfords, Wallingfords,
Chesters, Williamstowns, etc.) and traffic calming village improvements on
state highways without getting the money at 100% (they must now match 10%
while the state highway is provided 100% without lifting a finger!) and being
assured of 100% of the costs of maintenance and snow removal--a small price
for the state to pay for subsidizing the car and truck so that these same
village centers must put up with all kinds of induced traffic.
A few weeks ago, a special enhancement round of selected projects was
announced, about $1.5 million (about 40% of these funds have gone to bike/ped
projects in the past). The story quoted the VAOT to the effect that the
Legislature just decided to throw this money at enhancements, as if they had
no other place to put it. Unfortunately, it is true that the Legsilature has
a hard time spending the largesse that we, as a "gold state" receive. And we
as the bike/ped community, have not once made it to both legislative
transportation committees since the days when we got $4.5 million per year
back in 1992 and 1993.
So, like a record stuck in a groove, I believe that we must in this
session actually seek more bike ped "hard" money (also "soft" for education,
safety, etc.). This has been and should for a while at least be our first
priority. Also, regardless of our priorities, we do need to hire/seek the
help of lobbyists in our quests. This is the advice of one who has seen both
sides--Curt McCormack. Davd Jacobowitz did mention willingness to raise if
we had a goal.
Hopefully we can discuss this more at our next meeting. The time is
short now for the last legsilative session of this milennium.
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