What Happens When a Member of Congress Attacks Trail Funding?

Posted 07/14/14 by Patrick Wojahn in Policy, Taking Action

Photo © Cleo Fogal

Though it may not have made news headlines in your community, last Friday a significant battle was won in our never-ending defense of America's trails.

Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, had proposed an amendment to the Preserving America's Transit and Highways Act to eliminate funding for the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), by far the largest dedicated source of funding for trails and biking and walking infrastructure.

The simple fact is that without TAP, America would not have many of the trails and pathways we use today, and sometimes take for granted.

And so Rails-to-Trails Conservancy realized the great threat that Toomey's amendment presented. We rallied our friends and partners around the country, and urged our individual supporters, people like you, to pressure Sen. Toomey to withdraw the amendment.

What a response you gave. Our supporters sent more than 7,000 messages to Toomey and his peers in Congress voicing their enthusiastic support of TAP and urging elected officials to support programs that help build trails and active transportation facilities.

In Pennsylvania, we quickly gathered a broad coalition of 85 groups representing trails, health, business, tourism and citizen groups to sign a letter to Sen. Toomey, and hand-delivered the letter to the Senator and all Pennsylvanian Congressional representatives, in person, at their offices.

As they continued to apply pressure on Capitol Hill, late on Friday afternoon our policy and government relations staff received confirmation that Sen. Toomey had withdrawn the amendment.

This victory is evidence of two things. The first is the great support in local communities for federal programs to support trails, biking and walking. Where the rubber meets the road, programs like TAP have real and positive impacts in neighborhoods and main streets nationwide. It gets projects built, and it changes lives.

Secondly, it demonstrates the vital importance of RTC's work defending funding for trails. The behind-the-scenes work we do, utilizing relationships with trail building partners across the country, comes into play when we need to exert pressure on key decision makers to protect trails and active transportation.

As a supporter of RTC, it is important that you see the results of your contribution, and enjoy the fruits of our combined labors! This victory - defeating Sen. Toomey's amendment - is a win for the millions of Americans like you who know that trails, biking and walking are key elements of America's future.

Please help support our efforts to defend trails across the country.

Keep informed about RTC's work and trail building efforts in your state by signing up to our news feed: www.railstotrails.org/enews

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