NY, NJ, CT Seize Federal Trails Funding

The Circuit trail network has benefited from federal trails funds | Graphic: connectthecircuit.org

In a bit of good news for cycling and pedestrian safety advocates, 48 states have chosen to keep their recreational trails funding whole—including all three states in our region. News arose of a potential New York State opt-out in late August, but a successful advocacy push helped avert that outcome. Under the terms of MAP-21, America’s new national transportation bill, states have the option of leaving dedicated recreational trails funding intact or shuffling it into the general cyclist/pedestrian project pot called “Transportation Alternatives,” where 50 cents of every dollar could be transferred to non-cyclist/pedestrian projects (like road expansion).

Those states that have opted in will receive trails funding at 2009 levels—New York is set to receive over $2 million, New Jersey over $1 million, and Connecticut just under $1 million. In New York, this means that the state can pursue more projects like Highbridge Park, in New Jersey, The Circuit’s trails could continue to get a boost from these federal funds, and in Connecticut, good, well-maintained bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in places like Hartford’s Keney Park could become more common.

With overall cyclist and pedestrian funding down by about 1/3 in the new federal transportation bill, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut did well to seize these funds. Now, they must also commit to investing the full total of allocated Transportation Alternatives funding on cyclist and pedestrian projects.

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